A Patriotic Review of Paul Miller's The Religion of American Greatness: What’s Wrong with Christian Nationalism

Per Miller, "...nationalists of various stripes seek to define the nation by a characteristic of a people group such as language, culture, religion, or ancestry (and thereby privilege that group and its values in society)" - Providence

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

It’s an interesting review and sounds like an interesting book. A bit more…

Miller defends an “open American exceptionalism” (248) where the government practices a “cultural neutrality” (93) (but, importantly, not a moral neutrality).For Miller, the government ought not to privilege one particular expression of culture or religion. All citizens deserve equal treatment under law. To make his point abundantly clear, Miller addresses the hot button issue: Drag Queen Story Hour. Miller argues that public libraries ought to remain neutral towards various cultural expressions in their practices: “How hard is it to say both drag queens and fundamentalist Christians can both use the library and host events there? … denying [drag queens] access to public facilities on the basis of their beliefs or identities would be simply unfair or unjust, a clear misapplication of government’s duty to promote good and punish evil” (99). The ideals of an open society demand equal treatment under the law – even towards those with whom we disagree most strongly.

I want to address the rest of Miller’s book by highlighting three contrasts that Miller makes between Christian Nationalism and the American ideals. Then, I will offer one critique of Miller’s analysis that will hopefully help clarify what is at stake in this debate.

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Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

JD Miller's picture

Well Aaron it appears from the quote above that the author and Trump have similar views on this subject.  Trump was definitely an America 1st economic nationalist, but was not a "Christian values to save the country" nationalist, although he was against abortion.  I point this out because so many want to connect "Christian values nationalism" with Trump and I just don't see it.  Ironically that is one of the reasons many evangelicals were suspect of Trump in 2016.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Trump's rhetoric doesn't seem to support the "not a 'Christian values to save the country' nationalist" view. I'm certainly prepared to believe he says a lot of things he doesn't really believe, though... (because he thinks it's what his fans want to hear--much like others I could name on both the left and the right).

But I can't blame anyone for connecting Trump to Christian Nationalism. His most ardent and vocal supporters have pushed that more than him, fair enough, but they wouldn't be pushing it if it hadn't been for him setting the stage.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

JD Miller's picture

Are you suggesting that we should never have an elected official suggesting that Christian values are important?  I remember when that was not even a controversy among Christians.  We have reached the point where taking a stand against crime and taking a stand against child mutilation, and taking a stand against pedophiles are all morality issues and are now considered taboo by many in places of power.  I have said many times that I am against dominion theology/ theonomy, - and now that I have heard of it I will add 7 mountains since it seems to be just another form of dominion theology, - but I am not willing to get upset with a politician for promoting Christian values.  I can find plenty of reasons to be critical of Trump and I wish he would just quietly retire and be quiet, but I am uncomfortable with the idea of silencing Christian voices in the public sphere.