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HomeNewsMichael Flynn, Trump and America's Christian nationalism threat

Michael Flynn, Trump and America’s Christian nationalism threat

In September, the Related Press and PBS Frontline launched the primary a part of an in-depth reporting undertaking how retired basic Michael Flynn, former President Donald Trump’s safety adviser who pleaded responsible to mendacity to the FBI, has been relentlessly stumping for Trump whereas warning his audiences that the U.S. is within the midst of non secular warfare. Flynn “has drawn collectively election deniers, masks and vaccine opponents, insurrectionists, Proud Boys, and elected officers and leaders in state and native Republican events,” writes Michelle R. Smith. In sum, the report particulars how Flynn has turn out to be a central determine in a community of extremists, conspiracy theorists, and election deniers held collectively by the integrating mechanism of Christian nationalism. 

Christian nationalism is changing into a much bigger issue amongst Republican voters, with 61 p.c of Republican respondents saying they supported declaring the USA a Christian nation.

Additionally final month, a brand new College of Maryland Essential Points Ballot was launched suggesting Christian nationalism is changing into a much bigger issue amongst Republican voters, with 61 p.c of Republican respondents saying they supported declaring the USA a Christian nation.

These two issues will not be unconnected. 

As the students Samuel Perry and Philip Gorski present of their latest work “The Flag and the Cross,” white Christian nationalism particularly is just not about orthodox Christian perception and even Christian observe. The “Christian” in Christian nationalism is mostly a cultural identification that makes use of Christian symbols and myths to bind collectively American nationalism to white ethnicity. In different phrases, it offers a transcendent authority to a motion that seeks to consolidate political energy and, usually, preserve white ethno-cultural requirements. 

Michael Flynn speaks on stage through the ReAwaken America tour at Cornerstone Church, in Batavia, N.Y., on Aug. 12, 2022.Carolyn Kaster / AP file

One of many geniuses of Christian nationalism is its agility. As a cultural identification, Christian nationalism is nimble and versatile sufficient to incorporate each militia teams, QAnon theorists and election deniers who consider Trump is the rightful president — to not point out conservative Christians for whom the rhetoric of non secular warfare and apocalypse are on a regular basis parlance. 

Flynn is a very high-profile chief who has seamlessly married religion, conspiracy, politics and militancy. However he’s not precisely distinctive. Loads of Christian nationalists on the American proper have gotten MAGA celebrities. Some earn important sums by claiming the election was stolen and asking God to revive the nation to greatness, even when it takes a civil struggle. (They usually’re usually saying so in much more bombastic methods than Flynn.)

What is distinctive about Flynn is that he was as soon as a official insider within the American armed forces. The three-star basic could have retired from the army, however he stays a loyal soldier in Trump’s military. Within the minds of his audiences, Flynn’s authority and credentials are unassailable. Thus, his enchantment stretches throughout the assorted dimensions of the MAGA motion, making him a strong node in a hardy coalition. When, because the AP/Frontline report reveals, Flynn says that America is within the midst of “non secular warfare,” claims that public colleges are educating “filth” and “pornography,” explains that many People are “evil” and “don’t suppose and act like us,” and asserts that Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a literal demon, it hits in another way. 

Whereas the report from AP is alarming, those that learn Flynn’s memoir already knew how conspiratorial his worldview had turn out to be over the past decade. Former President Barack Obama warned Trump to not choose Flynn as his nationwide safety advisor — to no avail. Shortly after Flynn began the job, staffers shortly turned nervous about how excessive his views appeared. Throughout a  December 2020 assembly with Trump, Flynn reportedly unfold lies about election fraud and known as for martial regulation. He has not softened his tone.

Whereas Christian nationalism is extra about cultural identification than theology or non secular observe, it’s price peering behind the rhetoric to grasp the theological underpinnings of this campaign to “save” America. Flynn has teamed up with a particular model of Christian extremists who belong to a motion largely unknown to most People, dominionism, impressed by one thing generally known as the 7 Mountain Mandate. Flynn appeared on stage with outstanding dominionist Rev. John Hagee at Hagee’s San Antonio church throughout a November 2021 cease on the “ReAwaken America” tour. There, Flynn known as for a nationwide American faith. “If we’re going to have one nation beneath God, which we should, we’ve to have one faith. One nation beneath God, and one faith beneath God,” he mentioned. 

Dominionism, like Christian nationalism, continues to be principally a descriptive time period utilized from the surface, by teachers and journalists. Nonetheless, now that varied right-wing politicians and pundits have began to embrace the time period “Christian nationalist” we would begin to see a extra open embrace of “dominionism” as nicely. 

The motion has roots in Pentecostalism, which in flip has its roots in a Nineteenth-century American motion centered on the Holy Spirit and the conferral of pastoral authority via direct anointing from God. However dominionism additionally attracts important affect from R.J. Rushdoony’s Christian Reconstructionism, which requires theonomy — a society ruled by the biblical legal guidelines and pointers discovered within the Hebrew Bible. Dominionism particularly requires Christians to reclaim the “seven mountains of dominion” in society for God: household, faith, schooling, media, leisure, enterprise, and authorities. 

The dominionist subgroup that has arguably gotten essentially the most traction recently is the New Apostolic Reformation. Based by C. Peter Wagner within the Nineties, adherents like Paula White turned well-known through the Trump administration. NAR adherents consider in modern-day prophets with a direct line to God, anointed apostles, and non secular warfare fought by Christians towards demons. Sure adherents of non secular warfare consider that not solely folks, however buildings and establishments, may be possessed by evil spirits (therefore Flynn’s feedback about Pelosi.) 

Because the AP/Frontline report highlights, white Christian nationalism has united disparate elements of the MAGA motion by providing them a cultural identification to rally behind. And whereas it might be onerous to consider, Flynn is definitely extra understated and matter of reality than most of the movie star pastors and pundits who garner headlines. That makes him highly effective — and the implications of that energy are worrisome. 

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