Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Andrew Whitehead & Samuel L. Perry's "Taking America Back for God"

Andrew L. Whitehead is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Clemson University and Assistant Director of the Association of Religion Data Archives. He is the author of numerous articles on Christian nationalism and religion in the modern world.

Samuel L. Perry is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Religious Studies at the University of Oklahoma. He is the author of over 70 peer-reviewed journal articles and two books, Addicted to Lust and Growing God's Family.

They applied the “Page 99 Test” to their new book, Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States, and reported the following:
Our book Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States seeks to understand, as comprehensively as possible, a particular cultural framework that conflates Christian identity (along with other implied identities) with American civic belonging and participation. More specifically, we want to understand the ideological and demographic sources of this cultural framework, and, perhaps even more importantly, its powerful consequences. We find over and over again that once we know where you stand on various Christian nationalist views―whether you reject them, resist them, accommodate them, or serve as an enthusiastic ambassador of them―we can predict a lot about your views toward a host of issues: Trump, racism, immigration, abortion, gender roles, gay marriage, Muslims, and gun control.

Page 99 gives us a taste of what you’ll see throughout our book. At the top of the page we find most of the last paragraph of a section devoted to Americans’ attitudes toward immigration. We report that Americans who believe being Christian is an essential marker of national belonging are much more likely to resist the idea that immigrants can ever be “truly American.” Rather, anyone who comes to the United States is “indelibly ‘them,’ not ‘us.’” This is a central theme throughout: Christian nationalism―particularly when it is endorsed by white Americans―provides ideological support for xenophobic and racist views. It strengthens the symbolic border walls that ultimately lead to the physical border walls separating “us” from “them.”

The rest of page 99 begins the next section focusing on how Christian nationalism has historically and continues to undergird strong symbolic racial boundaries around national identity. While the payoff of our findings comes on a later page, this section begins with us introducing the historical relationship between Christianity, racism, and national identity. This is something we do throughout Taking America Back for God. Our survey research and interviews are situated in the historical record, helping readers make sense of not only where we are today, but what led us here.

So, on Page 99 readers get a taste of how we examined Christian nationalism in the United States and its relationship with racial boundaries and hierarchies. With an eye on our history, we provide the first sustained examination of Christian nationalism’s causes and consequences within American society. We’re able to show how much of the polarization in the media, around our kitchen tables, and even in our congregations is due to the power of Christian nationalism.
Learn more about Taking America Back for God at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue