Tennessee Faith Group Decries "Christian Nationalism"

Advocate Andy

Southern Christian Coalition says doctrine represents "extreme" agenda

A group of Tennessee pastors affiliated with the Southern Christian Coalition held a press conference today during which they decried the influence of so-called "Christian Nationalism" on America's public policy landscape.

Rev. Dr. Lillian Lammers, Associate Pastor of First Congregational Church in Memphis, opened the press conference by defining and explaining Christian nationalism and its danger. "I want to be perfectly clear, Christian nationalism, sometimes called White Christian nationalism, is not a true representation of the Christian faith. The definition of Christian nationalism is the belief that the American nation is defined by Christianity, and that the government should take active steps to keep it that way. This is a dangerous ideology that is actually contrary to the Gospel of Jesus, who never tried to overtake the government, or align God with empire as a means of asserting power or control. Yet, that is the agenda of white Christian nationalists in the United States and specifically in Tennessee right now." 

Lammers referred to Christian Nationalism as "non-biblical" and a "distortion" of the Christian faith.

"Increasingly in our judicial system, we see the influence of national groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom and Family Action Council, who claim the Christian faith, but are actually pushing a more extremist agenda from the Christian Nationalist playbook, which is a non-biblical distortion of the Christian faith. From promoting discriminatory, anti-democratic and intensely pro-firearm policies, the agenda of Christian nationalists not only corrupts and misrepresents our Christian faith, it also undermines and corrupts our democracy. And the violent insurrection on January 6, and the criminal conspiracy to overturn the will of the voters in the 2020 election are perfect examples of white Christian nationalism in action."

Lammers then pointed to the dangers of mixing Christianity with government dictates.

"To be perfectly clear, I love God, I love Jesus. I've devoted my professional life to studying and talking about the Christian faith. While we all like to see our own values and beliefs reflected in the world around us, there is a dangerous precedent and a horrendous history in this country and others, when the Christian faith becomes too closely aligned with Empire, with our government, America's strengths and potential rest in an appropriate separation of church and state, so that the many diverse populations that reside here can truly claim the principle of freedom that we so proudly celebrate."

Rev. Dr. Kevin Riggs, Pastor of Franklin Community Church, warned of the blurring of the lines between church and state that is promoted by White Christian Nationalists. "White Christian nationalists are trying to rewrite history and include it in our public school curriculum, and use our public funding to further remove the separation of church and state. Governor Lee's attempt to bring 100 Christian Hillsdale charter schools to Tennessee and use their curriculum that teaches a whitewashed history is another example of this blurring of the separation of church and state and trying to bring Christian nationalism into our public schools."

Rev. Eugene Se'Bree, Associate Pastor of Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church in Nashville, spoke about the connection of women's reproductive health to Christian Nationalism. "One of the key tenets of Christian nationalism is the subjugation of women. You can see this is their traditional view of women existing only for the purpose of childbearing, that women must exist for the pleasure and purpose of some men. As a pastor and father of two girls, I can plainly declare that this ideology is contrary to the liberation of women found in Jesus's words and the gospel, and is not a part of the Christian faith."

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Andy Spears is a middle Tennessee writer and policy advocate. He reports on news around public policy issues - education, health care, consumer protection, and more.

Nashville, TN
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