The flag and the cross White Christian nationalism and the threat to American democracy

Philip S. Gorski

Book - 2022

In this short primer, Gorski and Perry explain what white Christian nationalism is and is not; when it first emerged and how it has changed; where it's headed and why it threatens democracy. Tracing the development of this ideology over the course of three centuries and especially its influence over the last three decades, they show how white Christian nationalism motivates the anti-democratic, authoritarian, and violent impulses on display in our current political moment.

Saved in:

2nd Floor Show me where

1 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 261.7/Gorski Checked In
New York, NY : Oxford University Press [2022]
Main Author
Philip S. Gorski (author)
Other Authors
Samuel L. Perry (author), Jemar Tisby (writer of foreword)
Physical Description
xii, 157 pages : illustrations, charts ; 22 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 135-152) and index.
  • Foreword
  • Introduction: Eruption
  • 1. "This Is Our Nation, Not Theirs"
  • 2. The Spirit of 1690
  • 3. Freedom, Violence, Order
  • 4. Avoiding "The Big One"
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Index
Review by Choice Review

Literature on white Christian nationalism is expanding, and prior works have explored it through the lenses of journalism, biography, and philosophy. Sociologists Philip Gorski (Yale) and Samuel Perry (Univ. of Oklahoma) make a distinctive contribution to this literature with this report on their carefully designed survey, which exposes the links between race, religion, party affiliation, and political views. Topics include immigration, COVID-mask mandates, and individual economic liberty. The authors put this data in a historical context that sets the roots of white Christian nationalism far earlier in American history then do other books on the topic, a finding that makes an important contribution to understanding this phenomenon. The authors note that this nationalism is a political ideology unconnected to historic Christian teachings; in fact their survey shows that Christians who attend church are more likely to be sympathetic to the vulnerable and the outsider than are those who claim to be Christian but are not churchgoers. Though the book classes as religion, it will be important reading for students of sociology and political science as well as students of religion, given its sophisticated survey work. It will also interest nonacademic readers struggling to understand the impact of this movement on American politics. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty; professionals; general readers. --Aaron Wesley Klink, Duke University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Two sociologists examine polling data and American history to chart the dangerous rise of White Christian nationalism. The so-called Christian right isn't strictly Christian, write Gorski and Perry. They point to one survey in which one-fifth of those who identified as "Christian" also said they were secular or belonged to some other religion, meaning that "religious terms like 'Christian' and 'evangelical' are becoming markers of social identity rather than just religious conviction." Many Christian nationalists are aggrieved Whites who believe that liberals are bent on "replacing" them with immigrants and minorities. By the logic of those adherents, events such as the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol are not insurrectionary but instead acts of self-defense, a violence that Christ's purported followers endorse with full throats. Interestingly, according to Gorski and Perry, this Christian right, at whose heart lies "anti-Black animus" that dates back hundreds of years (whence the furor over the corrective 1619 Project), does not consider Muslims or even atheists to be existentially threatening. The real, dreaded enemies are "socialists," and even if many Christian right-wingers probably couldn't define what a socialist is, the thinking is that everything from taxes to the pandemic lockdowns are socialist ploys to take away rights that White Christian nationalists believe should be reserved unto Whites. Unfortunately, given the trajectory of American history, the authors write, there is no reason to think that this movement will fade away anytime soon. If decentralized power means that the worst of nationalist authoritarianism would be localized if Trump or some acolyte came to power, the authors suggest that it would be disastrous all the same: "Ironically, a serious attempt to 'make America great again' would probably end up making it chaotic and poor." A jarring analysis of a powerful and determined political minority bent on power. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.