“Christian Nationalism is a radical, fanatical departure from the teachings of Jesus and any faithful reading of either the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament, and it is also dangerously anti-democratic,” said Orrtanna resident Pamela Cooper-White, speaking on the second anniversary of the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington by a mob of supporters attempting to keep Donald Trump in power by preventing a joint session of Congress from formalizing the victory of President-elect Joe Biden.
The author of Christian Nationalism: Why People Are Drawn in and how to talk across the divide, Cooper-White spoke to a crowd of over 70 people, plus an additional dozen who attended via Zoom, at the Adams County Democratic Committee headquarters.
The presentation was the first of what the committee hopes is an ongoing series of presentations and discussions.
Cooper-White’s book addresses three topics: what Christian Nationalism is and how it relates to other right-wing religious movements; why people can be attracted to such a group, and how to converse with people who believe some or all of the beliefs of Christian Nationalism.
Cooper-White began by reviewing the religious gloss that was superimposed on the January 6 insurrection: groups praying by crosses outside the Capitol building, Christian symbols merged with those used by Trump, insurrectionists praying inside the House and Senate chambers. Cooper-White said she found a group called “Jericho March blowing a shofar (“Joshua Horn”) “to bring down the walls of government especially blasphemous.
Cooper-White addressed the political dimensions of the movement, notably the key role of Trump, who she said “tapped into a deep and broad reservoir of resentment and paranoia that has been accumulating for decades.”
Cooper-White noted that many Christian Nationalists believe “God has withdrawn ‘His’ blessing from America because ‘she’ has fallen into profligacy.” She also commented on the limited “Christianity” in Christian Nationalism, noting that Christian Nationalist preachers ‘tend to leap across the Bible from the Old Testament to the Book of Revelation, . . . making scant reference (if at all) to the teaching of Jesus about love, healing, and justice.”
Cooper-White pointed out the central and extremely dangerous role played by our state senator Doug Mastriano, whose rallies and web page are suffused with Christian Nationalist themes, who organized transportation for participants to the Capitol Building attack, and who made it himself at least as far as the Capitol grounds.
She also reminded the audience of how close to home this movement has struck, citing the July 4, 2020 presence around Gettysburg of armed forces similar to those who attended the January 6 attack and the following weekend’s Black Lives Matter rally on the square, when groups of armed militia created an intimidating presence.
Following her talk, Cooper-White engaged in a lively question and answer period and ended with an autograph session. Her inventory of books sold out quickly.
“The Psychology of Christian Nationalism: Why People Are Drawn in and How to Talk Across the Divide,” Minneapolis, Fortress Press, 2022. Copies are available at the Adams County Democratic Committee, 24 Chambersburg St., Gettysburg, PA 17325 and on Amazon.
Leon Reed, freelance reporter, is a former US Senate staff member, defense consultant, and history teacher. He is a seven year resident of Gettysburg, where he writes military history and explores the park and the Adams County countryside. He is the publisher at Little Falls Books, chaired the Adams County 2020 Census Complete Count Committee and is on the board of SCCAP and the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. He and his wife, Lois, have 3 children, 3 cats, and 5 grandchildren.