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Most Americans were shocked by the violence they witnessed at the nation's Capital on January 6th 2021. But perhaps even more bewildering were the images that accompanied it: a wooden cross and wooden gallows; "Jesus saves" and "Don't Tread on Me;" Christian flags and Confederate Flags; even a
prayer in Jesus' name after storming the Senate chamber. Where some saw a jumble, Gorski and Perry saw a pattern. Authoritarian violence, libertarianism, white supremacy, and conservative Christianity have long gone together. They still do. What unites them is the ideology of white Christian
In this short primer, Gorski and Perry explain white Christian nationalism is both a "deep story" about America's past and a political vision for its future. Tracing its history back three centuries, they show how Biblical metaphors of "blood" within white Christian nationalism have animated the
oppression, exclusion, and even extermination of minority groups while securing privilege for white Protestants. They also show how white Christian nationalism has come to work in tandem with its fraternal twin-white Christian individualism. Today this combination lets Americans on the right demand
sacrifice from others in the name of religion and nation, while denying their own sacrifices in the names of "liberty" and "property."
Gorski and Perry show white Christian nationalism and white Christian individualism motivate the anti-democratic, authoritarian, and violent impulses on display in our current political moment. The future of American democracy, they argue, will depend on whether a broad spectrum of
Americans--stretching from democratic socialists to classical liberals--can unite in a popular front to combat the threat to liberal democracy posed by white Christian nationalism.
Philip Gorski is a comparative and historical sociologist who writes on religion and politics in early modern and modern Europe and North America. His work has been featured and discussed in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR and other national media outlets. He is the author, most
recently, of American Babylon: Christianity and Democracy Before and After Trump (Routledge, 2020) and American Covenant: A History of Civil Religion from the Puritans to the Present (Princeton, 2017).
Samuel L. Perry is a sociologist of American religion, race, politics, sexuality, and families. In addition to his scholarship in leading scientific journals, he has written for outlets like The Washington Post and Time Magazine and his work has been featured in Time, The New Yorker, The Economist,
the New York Times, and elsewhere. He is the author or co-author of four books including Growing God's Family (NYU 2017), Addicted to Lust (Oxford 2019), Taking America Back for God (Oxford 2020), and now Power in the Blood (Oxford 2022).
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