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Rejecting all things Christian in America

Anti-religious “Rejecters” want to blot out believers from our nation’s history

Historic St. Michael’s church in Charleston, S.C., built in the 1750s iStock.com/(St. Michael’s) paladex; (stamp) Thomas Pajot

Rejecting all things Christian in America
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The anti-religious left has lumped morally orthodox Christians in with a cast of nefarious characters, including Vladimir Putin, and is using this categorization as a political ploy against Bible-believing Americans. They call it “nationalism” or, more specifically, “Christian nationalism.” Popularized by the book Taking Back America for God by Andrew Whitehead and Samuel Perry, the term “Christian nationalists” is broadly defined by the authors to include the majority of Bible-believing Christians in the United States. The authors build a framework that suggests that so-called “Christian nationalists” adopt repressive theories in their homes and churches and would be willing to go so far as to use violence to enforce a dogmatic, racist version of American chauvinism. Another highly touted study has gone so far as to call Christians who believe in the truth of Scripture a national threat.

Such broad associations of Bible-believing Christians with political bad actors would also include Billy Graham, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and others who have nothing to do with fascist techniques and beliefs.

What is often overlooked and underdiscussed is Whitehead and Perry’s description of anti-religious Americans, usually on the political left, whom they call the “Rejecters.” Faithful Christian citizens ought to carefully consider the startling rejection of the role of Christianity in U.S. history made by Rejecters, which involves a dangerous, anti-Christian worldview that we have seen in countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, and China.

According to the authors, Rejectors are largely well-educated in state and/or elite institutions, more urban than the rest of Americans, more likely to live in the Northeast, enjoy higher income brackets, and typically not religious. The study identifies 21.5 percent of Americans as Rejectors.

Rejectors reject any role for religion in today’s public square. Even worse, Rejectors want to eliminate the historical role of Christianity from our history books.

Rejecters rewrite history, claiming that the intellectual underpinning of the United States is rooted in secular rationalist thought associated with the European Enlightenment. Their heroes are more likely to be anti-religious figures such as Voltaire and Thomas Paine. They ignore the emphasis on Christian faith and morality in the writings of key Founding Fathers such as George Washington and Patrick Henry. Rejectors reject the investigations of America’s founding by authors such as Alexis de Tocqueville, the French author of Democracy in America (1835), who showed the thoroughly positive religious influence in the successful outworking of the American experiment in democracy.

This group demands that public institutions, especially our schools, must entirely banish religion from the national narrative and in shaping young minds and hearts.

In contrast, the Rejectors’ viewpoint articulates a different version of the American founding. Many Rejecters are likely to embrace a highly debated and historically challenged redaction of America’s founding—the 1619 Project’s claim that American society is based, primarily and almost exclusively, on the practice of slavery and the ideology of white supremacy.

Rejecters want to believe that the Founding Fathers were, at best, deists or agnostics who largely eschewed religious language and religious symbols in the Constitution and other early American documents. The story of the Pilgrims coming to North America for religious freedom and the 150 years of early American Colonial life, the establishment of schools such as Harvard and Yale to train Christian ministers, the pioneering missionary efforts of Roger Williams and others—all of this is presented as a myth that is best left out of the telling of U.S. history.

Many, though not all, Rejecters see religion as intolerant, dangerous, and having no legitimate place in America’s public square. According to this mentality, moral claims are only to be made on non-religious, ethical grounds such as utilitarianism or whatever can be reasonably agreed upon via democratic elections or litigation. This group demands that public institutions, especially our schools, must entirely banish religion from the national narrative and in shaping young minds and hearts.

Looking at the Rejecters helps us understand what is at stake in the shrill debates about Christian nationalism. Much of this is an assault on Christianity itself. Some want to silence morally orthodox voices on the debates of the day, particularly when it comes to life issues, sexuality, and family. We see this brazenly playing out in Washington. President Joe Biden’s FBI and other agencies now report that they have refocused their energies away from Islamists and other forms of terrorism to focus on nationalists, including so-called Christian nationalists.

As citizens, Christians must support efforts in education and public life that promote a true rendering of American history, including the religious aspirations of the early colonists, the religious worldview of America’s Founders, and the religion-inspired good works of abolitionists, civil rights leaders, and humanitarians over the past three centuries. We must keep up those good works today, not just as ends to themselves but as opportunities to shine a light on the loving motivation for those efforts.

Eric Patterson

Eric Patterson is president and CEO of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington, D.C., and past dean of the School of Government at Regent University. He is the author or editor of more than 20 books, including Just American Wars, Politics in a Religious World, and Ending Wars Well.

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