A group of Christian leaders have put out a statement warning others in the community about the threat of 'Christian nationalism' - arguing that Christian and American identities must remain separate to not distort "both the Christian faith and America's constitutional democracy."
"Christian nationalism demands Christianity be privileged by the State and implies that to be a good American, one must be Christian. It often overlaps with and provides cover for white supremacy and racial subjugation," according to the statement. "We reject this damaging political ideology and invite our Christian brothers and sisters to join us in opposing this threat to our faith and to our nation."
"Conflating religious authority with political authority is idolatrous and often leads to oppression of minorities and other marginalized groups as well as the spiritual impoverishment of religion," the statement adds.
Nineteen Christian leaders from various groups, including the Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, the Franciscan Action Network, the Episcopal Church, and Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, endorsed the letter. Dozens have signed the statement in agreement.
"Christian nationalism harmfully suggests that to be a good American, one must be Christian and that to be a good Christian, one must be American," Amanda Tyler, Executive Director of the Baptist Joint Committee, said in a statement on the group's website. "When religious authority is conflated with political authority, it tends to marginalize our fellow Americans and undermine our own spiritual health."
Tony Campolo, a founder of the Red Letter Christian Movement, added that "the true Jesus is neither a Republican nor a Democrat, but what I often hear preached on some radio and television programs seems to me to be an American Jesus who differs from the Jesus that I read about in the gospels, and often comes across as being politically partisan."
White evangelical Protestants have consistently expressed support for Republican candidates, supporting President Donald Trump 77% to 16% in the 2016 presidential election, according to the Pew Research Center. Among all voters, those who reported attending service on at least a weekly basis favored Trump, compared to Hillary Clinton, by a margin of 58% to 36%.
Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg, a gay Episcopalian Christian, has openly criticized Vice President Mike Pence and other Christians who support Trump.
"Whether we worship at a church, mosque, synagogue, or temple, America has no second-class faiths," the statement reads. "All are equal under the US Constitution. As Christians, we must speak in one voice condemning Christian nationalism as a distortion of the gospel of Jesus and a threat to American democracy."
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