The She Prays She Votes bus tour is a concrete representation—a tribute—to the truth that the Lord is sovereign over all things, which includes American politics. Every American has the right to civic engagement, Christians included. It is an honor that we get to be a part of the democratic process in this way.
But what to do about the name-calling? Have you been called a “hypocrite” for trying to engage in politics with a Biblical worldview? Have you been lumped in with the amorphously defined category known as “Christian Nationalist”? You are not alone. Concerned Women for America (CWA) President and CEO Penny Nance, and Annabelle Rutledge, National Director for Young Women for America, joined Washington Journal to discuss the bus tour. They were called “hypocrites” by at least one caller on the line. “Christian Nationalist” is another term that pops up from time to time in the news.
Such comments are bound to arise whenever we put ourselves out there as the face for civically engaged women of faith. It is important to understand these comments and how to respond to them. Here are some ways to think about this topic when the conversation comes up with colleagues, friends, or family. Ultimately, such labels are a result of a misunderstanding of the proper role of faith in politics.
First, we can rest on the fact that Scripture tells us to expect these slights and treat them as a blessing. In the Beatitudes, Jesus states, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me” Matthew 5:11 (NIV). Note the emphasis on verbal attacks. This is exactly what we face in the present day when we are called “hypocrites” or “Christian Nationalist.” We can expect this when we share our belief in Scripture or share why we apply those beliefs to every aspect of our lives, including how we vote.
Why is it a blessing? The reasons are numerous. But the final caller into the Washington Journal was an immediate blessing for the bus tour team. She shared how alone she felt in her community for her belief in the Bible. She shared how encouraged she was that there was a group of people actively trying to share Jesus in the political realm. Through the name-calling, the team was given the gift of giving encouragement to a fellow believer.
We must always respond to verbal attacks firmly, respectfully, and with a Biblical perspective. Of course, no one is perfect or always does this perfectly. But with this sincere intention, the Holy Spirit will use our imperfect selves and “will teach [us] at that time what [we] should say” Luke 12:12 (NIV). When done right, we may not get the other person to vote for the same party, but that person has a shot at getting a better glimpse of the Lord because of our constructive engagement.
What about the phrase “Christian Nationalist”? The phrase often (though not exclusively) amounts to little more than name-calling. For instance, one article blames today’s “Christian nationalists” for the antisemitism towards Jews, then calls for the solution for the GOP to condemn antisemitism (it has many times over, including one condemnation from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia)). Another article throws in the word “white” for good measure. One of CWA’s core issues is support for Israel, and we abhor anti-Semitism. We also strongly condemn racism, knowing that the Lord created all of us in His image. But the phrase “Christian Nationalist” is just another convenient tool to hit well-worn media punching bags.
Sometimes, the phrase receives a veneer of credibility. “Christian Nationalism” has been mentioned by a Member of Congress in a floor speech as a threat to the nation. He cites the report by Baptist Joint Committee (BJC) and Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), “Christian Nationalism and the January 6, 2021 Insurrection.” Notably, BJC comes from a philosophy that faith must remain out of the public square. For instance, it supports the Johnson Amendment, which creates a chilling effect on religious leaders’ ability to discuss politics with congregants. FFRF frequently files suit to remove religious imagery from public property. It is important to keep these perspectives in mind. But even on the merit of the report alone, the supposed case against “Christian Nationalism” is really a superficial attack against former President Donald Trump and his supporters.
In addition to attributing qualities of racism and nativism to “Christian Nationalism,” the Member and the report lump in a host of other qualities. The report references support for “Trump and Trumpism.” The Member describes unnamed Members of Congress, unnamed officials in the previous administration, and presumably Ginni Thomas, wife of Justice Clarence Thomas on the U.S. Supreme Court. Mrs. Thomas in particular said things that—according to the Member—“smacked of White Christian nationalism.” It is a shameful accusation given that Justice Thomas, Mrs. Thomas’ husband, is African-American. Those who broke into the Capitol deserve the consequences of their actions. But “Christian Nationalism,” as it has been put forth by its theoreticians, is a label to oppose conservatives.
What are some statements one can make in response to claims of “hypocrisy” or “Christian Nationalism”? Here is a short list:
- I am a Christian because I believe the Gospel.
- The Gospel is God’s message to us through Scripture to reconcile us to Him because we have strayed and sinned.
- Our reconciliation is possible because Christ died for our sin.
- Christ’s love and role in our lives transcends, age, race, and any other category you can think.
- Laws and government best serve the people when they reflect values in Scripture. This is true even for nonbelievers.
- We often partner with groups of other faiths and no faith so that these values are reflected in law and policy.
- These values are cross-sectarian because they are good.
- Although, God wants nonbelievers to be reconciled to Him, too.
- America was founded on principles of religious freedom and free expression.
- The Constitution preserves my right to advocate for Biblical values.
- Everyone has the right to vote for the candidate who most closely maps onto views rooted in their beliefs and faith, which for me is:
- respect for the sanctity of life in order to honor God’s creation,
- preserving the traditional family and the categories male and female in order to reflect His design for humanity, and
- freedom to exercise one’s faith in the public square, including our jobs, in order to show His love for us and declare His glory.
Be encouraged! We can stand firm on the truth that the Lord wants the unborn child to survive, the girl to be comfortable in her own body with a loving mother and father, and the missionary to serve the vulnerable. By deciding and encouraging others to vote for the candidate that reaches this outcome, we are trying to implement Biblical values in public policy and bring human flourishing to all.