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Overheard (June / July 2022)

There is insufficient evidence that the God of my Catholic upbringing exists. If that God does exist, the features ascribed to God need to be revisited in light of how much preventable evil there is in the world. I suspect, on balance, there is reason to believe God is no more alive than your garden gnome.

Eusebius McKaiser, in his column, “I was taught God exists. That is a lie — Here’s why.”

South Africa’s HeraldLive.com, 4-15-22


If he were mortal, the God of Jews, Christians and Muslims would be dragged to The Hague. And yet we praise him. We emulate him. We implore our children to be like him. Perhaps now, as missiles rain down and the dead are discovered in mass graves, is a good time to stop emulating this hateful God. Perhaps we can stop extolling his brutality. Perhaps now is a good time to teach our children to pass over God — to be as unlike him as possible.

Shalom Auslander, in his column, “In this time of war, I propose we give up God.”

The New York Times, 4-15-22


Christian nationalist rhetoric is heavily cloaked in threat narratives. For example, among Christian nationalists, opposition to marriage equality is justified by framing same-sex marriage as a threat to the traditional family, and threat perceptions help explain links between Christian nationalism and support for conservative policies, such as opposition to immigration.

Patricia Y. Sanchez, in her article, “New study indicates social identity threat can boost support for Christian nationalist ideologies.”

PsyPost.org, 4-15-22


One must acknowledge that the GOP is not a political party anymore. It is a movement dedicated to imposing white Christian nationalism. . . . Our political problems are significant, but they are minor compared with the moral confusion that is afflicting the millions of white Christian Americans who consider themselves victims. 

Jennifer Rubin, in her column, “The GOP is no longer a party. It’s a movement to impose white Christian nationalism.”

Washington Post, 4-27-22


Christian nationalism is making significant inroads among some Latino communities, for example, and there the argument is not that a preferred racial group is being replaced but that a preferred religious and cultural value system (with supposed economic implications) is under threat.

Katherine Stewart, as quoted in the Thomas Edsall column, “The MAGA formula is getting darker and darker.”

The New York Times, 5-18-22


If Justice Alito wants you to be governed by the laws of the 17th century, you should take a close look at that century. Is that when you want to live?

Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, in her column, “I invented Gilead. The Supreme Court is making it real.”

The Atlantic, 5-13-22


No atheist, no secularists or materialists could inflict nearly as much damage to the Christian faith as these leaders within the Christian Church have done.

Peter Wehner, in his column, “No atheist has done this much damage to the Christian faith,” responding to the news of the clergy abuse within the Southern Baptist Church.

The Atlantic, 5-24-22


Christianity, let’s just say it, is not on a good run. And it can’t really be blamed on the godless, or video games, or the political party you hate, or the things any of us normally blame for anything. You can’t stand in pulpits and pews and point to all the trouble outside the stained glass windows. The church can’t blame it on somebody else. Because the devil ain’t just in the details anymore, it’s in the robes and vestments and power ties.

John Archibald, in his column, “When churches are the biggest threat to religion.”

AL.com, 5-24-22


We can see how the “great replacement theory” overlaps with Christian nationalism. Both view some specific population as “real” Americans, whether that is defined explicitly as white Christians or in the more vague and coded language of “real” or “native born” or “legacy” Americans. And both frame demographic change as threats to both that population and to the country’s essential character. 

Ruth Braunstein, professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut and the author of the 2021 paper “The ‘Right’ History: Religion, Race, and Nostalgic Stories of Christian America.”

The New York Times, 5-18-22