Faith and Homeland: The Stronghold of Christian Nationalism in Rural, Conservative States

Unveiling the Heartland: Christian Nationalism's Firm Grip in Rural Strongholds

In Vance, Alabama, a towering cross casts its shadow over a modest church, embodying the essence of a state deeply entrenched in the ideals of Christian nationalism. Recent findings from a survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute reveal that states like North Dakota, Mississippi, Alabama, and West Virginia stand as bastions where support for Christian nationalist sentiments runs highest.

According to the survey, nearly half or even half of the residents in these states advocate for the notion that Christianity should reign supreme across all facets of American society, including its legislative framework. The research, based on interviews with over 22,000 individuals, unveils a landscape where beliefs once considered fringe within Christianity have now taken root across the nation.

Nationally, approximately three in ten Americans either believe in or lean towards the concept of the United States as a Christian nation, advocating for the integration of Christian principles into the country's legal system. These sentiments, intertwined with politics, have notably become emblematic of the political movement associated with former President Donald Trump, asserts Robert P. Jones, President and Founder of PRRI and author of "The Hidden Roots of White Supremacy and the Path to a Shared American Future.

The recent ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court, granting legal protections to frozen embryos akin to those afforded to individuals, epitomizes this intertwining of faith and law. Chief Justice Tom Parker, in his concurring opinion, drew from biblical references, solidifying the influence of Christian nationalism within the legal realm. Jones highlights Parker's appearance on an evangelical podcast on the same day as the ruling, underscoring the concerted effort to advance dominionist principles through positions of authority.

The bedrock of Christian nationalism finds its roots in doctrines like the Seven Mountains Mandate, advocating for Christian dominance across all sectors of society, including government, media, and entertainment. Chief Justice Parker's citation of this mandate in a podcast mirrors the alignment of legal decisions with religious ideologies, further amplifying the influence of Christian nationalism within the public sphere.

White evangelical Protestants emerge as the staunchest proponents of Christian nationalist views, constituting a significant portion of the Republican Party. PRRI's survey indicates that 66% of white evangelical Protestants either support or sympathize with Christian nationalism, showcasing the resonance of these beliefs within religious demographics. Additionally, Hispanic Protestants and Latter-day Saints also demonstrate notable support for Christian nationalist ideals, as outlined in the survey's findings.

As the landscape of American society continues to evolve, the prominence of Christian nationalism in shaping political discourse and legal frameworks underscores the enduring influence of faith on the nation's trajectory. In rural strongholds and beyond, the fusion of religious convictions with civic governance serves as a testament to the enduring power of belief in shaping the contours of society.

Diving deeper into the policy agenda of Christian nationalists, Robert P. Jones sheds light on their advocacy for stringent measures regarding abortion access, LGBTQ rights, and immigration restrictions. According to PRRI's research, individuals subscribing to Christian nationalist beliefs are approximately twice as inclined as their counterparts to rationalize political violence as justifiable.

Jones emphasizes the underlying worldview of Christian nationalists, where political adversaries aren't merely opponents but perceived as existential threats. This mindset, he contends, poses a grave challenge to the very fabric of democracy within the nation, injecting a toxic element into the democratic discourse.

In conclusion, the pervasive influence of Christian nationalism extends far beyond mere religious beliefs, shaping policy agendas and attitudes towards democracy itself. As evidenced by PRRI's research, this ideological framework informs stances on contentious issues such as abortion, LGBTQ rights, and immigration, while also fostering a disturbing tolerance for political violence. Robert P. Jones's insights underscore the urgent need for vigilance in safeguarding democratic principles, as the corrosive effects of viewing opponents as existential enemies threaten to erode the very foundations of democracy in the United States. As society grapples with these challenges, it becomes increasingly imperative to foster dialogue and understanding across ideological divides, ensuring that the tenets of democracy endure in the face of ideological extremism.