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Special Issue "Christian Nationalism in the United States"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 October 2016)

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Mark T. Edwards

Assistant Professor, Department of History, Political Economy, Geography, and Social Studies, Spring Arbor University
Website | E-Mail
Phone: (517) 750-6318
Interests: twentieth-century U.S. history; American intellectual, religious, and diplomatic history

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

America’s allegedly “Christian” founding and culture remains a subject of substantial debate among scholars, as well as the general public. Many persons associate conflicts over the civil religious nature of America with the rise of evangelical conservativism during the 1970s and 1980s. However, the intellectual tradition of Christian nationalism is much older and messier—as studies by historians such as Robert Handy and Frank Lambert, and newer work by Kevin Kruse, Steven Green, and Matthew Sutton, have demonstrated. Their scholarship teaches us several lessons. First, we should avoid “decline and revival” narratives and understand Christian nationalism as a construction (if not fiction) that has arisen at various times in various places to accomplish a myriad of work. Second, Christian nationalism has been advanced by a diversity of persons and groups favorable and hostile to the idea, not just by evangelical Protestants. Third, Christian nationalism can be operational even when its keywords “Christian nation” and “Christian America” are absent. Finally, and most importantly, “Christian nationalism” like “secularism” is a discursive site where politics and history meet—where assertions of identity and power are conjoined.

The essays in this Special Issue will assess and apply (or relate) those lessons to a number of new subjects, events, and time periods within American history. Our intent is not to document every instance of Christian nationalism from every possible perspective. Rather, our aim is to prove the utility of “Christian nationalism” as an analytical concept—like “civil religion” or “culture wars”—to understand continuity and disjuncture throughout U.S. politics, culture, and society. Our respective definitions, redefinitions, and reframing of Christian nationalism should spark further investigations into its multiple manifestations and impact.

Dr. Mark T. Edwards
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 350 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Christian nationalism
  • Religion in America
  • Religion and Politics
  • Civil Religion

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Religions Series: “Christian Nationalism in the United States”—Ebook Introduction
Religions 2017, 8(5), 93; doi:10.3390/rel8050093
Received: 9 May 2017 / Revised: 10 May 2017 / Accepted: 10 May 2017 / Published: 13 May 2017
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(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christian Nationalism in the United States) Printed Edition available

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Open AccessArticle “Our Country Is Destined to be the Great Nation of Futurity”: John L. O’Sullivan’s Manifest Destiny and Christian Nationalism, 1837–1846
Religions 2017, 8(4), 68; doi:10.3390/rel8040068
Received: 12 December 2016 / Revised: 11 April 2017 / Accepted: 14 April 2017 / Published: 17 April 2017
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Abstract
As founding editor of the United States Magazine and Democratic Review, John L. O’Sullivan (1813–1895) preached a particular form of Christian nationalism that centered on expansionist fever occurring during the 1830s and 1840s. O’Sullivan’s Christian nationalism was known as “Manifest Destiny”. He
[...] Read more.
As founding editor of the United States Magazine and Democratic Review, John L. O’Sullivan (1813–1895) preached a particular form of Christian nationalism that centered on expansionist fever occurring during the 1830s and 1840s. O’Sullivan’s Christian nationalism was known as “Manifest Destiny”. He famously coined the term in 1845 while defending the right of the United States to annex the Republic of Texas. The central argument of this essay is that Manifest Destiny, as O’Sullivan articulated it in the pages of the Democratic Review, follows the contours of the innovative and heterodox political religion developed by Elie Kedourie and expounded upon by Anthony D. Smith. O’Sullivan’s Manifest Destiny was a conglomerated nationalistic paradigm consisting of elements from Protestant theology, Lyman Beecher’s vision for civilizing the West, and German idealism via George Bancroft’s use of historicism in his History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the American Continent. As a form of Christian nationalism located in the context of antebellum America, Manifest Destiny is helpful to historians as they trace both continuity and change over time in how Americans have self-identified in religious terms since their origin as a collection of colonial, and later independent, polities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christian Nationalism in the United States) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle William Apess, Pequot Pastor: A Native American Revisioning of Christian Nationalism in the Early Republic
Religions 2017, 8(2), 18; doi:10.3390/rel8020018
Received: 29 September 2016 / Accepted: 11 January 2017 / Published: 27 January 2017
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Abstract
Pequot Native and Methodist Minister William Apess has received growing recognition among historians as a unique voice for Native Americans—and minorities in general—during the early Republic. This essay began by inquiring into Apess’s relationship with the Christian nationalism of his day. Extensive readings
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Pequot Native and Methodist Minister William Apess has received growing recognition among historians as a unique voice for Native Americans—and minorities in general—during the early Republic. This essay began by inquiring into Apess’s relationship with the Christian nationalism of his day. Extensive readings of Apess’s works, scholarship on all aspects of Apess’s life, and analyses of Christian nationalism during the early Republic initially revealed severe conflict. Apess is fiery in his critique of Anglo American society and religion; he questions the integrity of Christians who treat Native Americans with a double standard. Analyzing Apess’s critiques and his proposed solutions in depth, however, shows that his main problem rests with faulty implementation of genuinely good ideals. Apess’s solutions actually rest on revising and enforcing, not destroying, the main components of Christian nationalism. This essay concludes that Apess should be read as advancing his own revised form of Christian nationalism; his plan for the future of America and national unity embraced establishing a more perfect Christian union. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christian Nationalism in the United States) Printed Edition available
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle The Protestant Search for ‘the Universal Christian Community’ between Decolonization and Communism †
Religions 2017, 8(2), 17; doi:10.3390/rel8020017
Received: 2 December 2016 / Revised: 18 January 2017 / Accepted: 19 January 2017 / Published: 24 January 2017
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Abstract
This article investigates the history of American Protestant thought about peoples living beyond the North Atlantic West, in Asia in particular, from 1900 to the 1960s. It argues that Protestant thought about the Global South was marked by a tension between universalism and
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This article investigates the history of American Protestant thought about peoples living beyond the North Atlantic West, in Asia in particular, from 1900 to the 1960s. It argues that Protestant thought about the Global South was marked by a tension between universalism and particularism. Protestants believed that their religion was universal because its core insights about the world were meant for everyone. At the same time, Protestant intellectuals were attentive to the demands of their coreligionists abroad, who argued that decolonization should herald a greater appreciation for national differences. The article traces three distinct stages of Protestant attempts to resolve these tensions; support for imperialism in the early twentieth century, then for human rights at mid-century, and finally for pluralism in the 1960s. In doing so, it shows that the specter of the Soviet Union intensified the Protestant appreciation of national differences and ultimately led to the disavowal of Protestant universalism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christian Nationalism in the United States) Printed Edition available
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle America’s “Peculiar Children”: Authority and Christian Nationalism at Antebellum West Point
Religions 2017, 8(1), 6; doi:10.3390/rel8010006
Received: 2 October 2016 / Revised: 22 December 2016 / Accepted: 29 December 2016 / Published: 6 January 2017
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Abstract
This essay examines how the United States Military Academy at West Point developed an explicitly “federal” Christianity to help train the antebellum officers of the United States Army. It begins by examining how the Episcopal Church was quietly “established” at West Point, and
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This essay examines how the United States Military Academy at West Point developed an explicitly “federal” Christianity to help train the antebellum officers of the United States Army. It begins by examining how the Episcopal Church was quietly “established” at West Point, and how the church allied with the federal government and US Army to encourage a potent Christian nationalism that collapsed the sovereignty of the United States into the sovereignty of God. The case of West Point illustrates how federal officials, Army leaders, and Academy administrators understood religion as a central component of national security. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christian Nationalism in the United States) Printed Edition available
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Religion, the Federalists, and American Nationalism
Religions 2017, 8(1), 5; doi:10.3390/rel8010005
Received: 30 September 2016 / Revised: 23 December 2016 / Accepted: 27 December 2016 / Published: 5 January 2017
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Abstract
It may seem a truism to assert that the Federalist Party in the Early American Republic possessed a nationalist emphasis, but the question remains as to the character of their nationalism. This article draws on categories from the historian John D. Wilsey to
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It may seem a truism to assert that the Federalist Party in the Early American Republic possessed a nationalist emphasis, but the question remains as to the character of their nationalism. This article draws on categories from the historian John D. Wilsey to determine how “open” or “closed” Federalist nationalism was. It looks to public utterances of Federalist leaders to find that they attempted to hold up the nation as an ideal, but that they avoided expansionistic tendencies in foreign affairs. This allows the article to posit Federalist nationalism as “open.” It then considers what role religion played in supporting this “open” Federalist nationalism. It finds that Federalist religious nationalism developed in three stages: “Republican,” “Federalist,” and “Voluntarist,” as Federalists responded to needs within, and changes to, the new nation. The article concludes that religion (predominantly Protestant Christianity) thus operated creatively in support of an “open” Federalist nationalism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christian Nationalism in the United States) Printed Edition available
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle “This World Is Not My Home”: Richard Mouw and Christian Nationalism
Religions 2017, 8(1), 2; doi:10.3390/rel8010002
Received: 6 November 2016 / Revised: 22 December 2016 / Accepted: 23 December 2016 / Published: 27 December 2016
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Abstract
American evangelicalism has often been punctuated by dual commitments to the United States and to God. Those commitments were strongest within politically conservative evangelicalism. Though representing a solid majority among professing evangelicals, conservatives could not speak for the movement as a whole. Politically
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American evangelicalism has often been punctuated by dual commitments to the United States and to God. Those commitments were strongest within politically conservative evangelicalism. Though representing a solid majority among professing evangelicals, conservatives could not speak for the movement as a whole. Politically progressive evangelicals, beginning in the 1960s, formed a dissenting opinion of the post-World War II revival of Christian nationalism. They dared to challenge American action abroad, noticeably during the Vietnam War. Their critique of Christian nationalism and conservative evangelicals’ close ties to the Republican Party led them to seek refuge in either progressive policies or the Democratic Party. A third, underexplored subgroup of evangelicalism rooted in reformed theology becomes important to consider in this regard. These reformed evangelicals sought to contextualize nationalism in biblical rather than partisan or political terms. This goal is championed well by Richard Mouw, resulting in a nuanced look at evangelical Christians’ difficult dual role as both citizens of the Kingdom of God and the United States. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christian Nationalism in the United States) Printed Edition available
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Ambassadors for the Kingdom of God or for America? Christian Nationalism, the Christian Right, and the Contra War
Religions 2016, 7(12), 151; doi:10.3390/rel7120151
Received: 3 October 2016 / Revised: 4 December 2016 / Accepted: 7 December 2016 / Published: 18 December 2016
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Abstract
This essay uses the concept of Christian nationalism to explore the religious dynamics of the Contra war and U.S.–Nicaraguan relations during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Religious organizations and individuals played crucial roles on both sides in the war in Nicaragua and in the debates
[...] Read more.
This essay uses the concept of Christian nationalism to explore the religious dynamics of the Contra war and U.S.–Nicaraguan relations during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Religious organizations and individuals played crucial roles on both sides in the war in Nicaragua and in the debates in the United States over support for the Contras. Evangelistic work strengthened transnational ties between Christians, but also raised the stakes of the war; supporters of the Sandinistas and Contras alike alleged a victory by their adversary imperiled the future of Christianity in Nicaragua. Christian nationalism thus manifested itself and intertwined in both the United States and Nicaragua. Examining how evangelicals and Catholics in the United States and Nicaragua, as well as the Reagan administration, the Contras, and the Sandinistas, used Christian nationalism to build support for their policy objectives sheds light on both the malleability and the power of identifying faith with the state. Having assessed Christian nationalism as a tool and a locus of conflict in the Contra war, the essay then steps back and considers the larger methodological implications of using Christian nationalism as a category of analysis in U.S. foreign relations history. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christian Nationalism in the United States) Printed Edition available
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Beyond Christian Nationalism: How the American Committee on Religious Rights and Minorities Made Religious Pluralism a Global Cause in the Interwar Era
Religions 2016, 7(12), 149; doi:10.3390/rel7120149
Received: 4 October 2016 / Revised: 7 December 2016 / Accepted: 8 December 2016 / Published: 16 December 2016
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Abstract
During the 1920s and 1930s, the American Committee on Religious Rights and Minorities offered a potent challenge to the view of the United States as a Christian nation. The Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish members of the committee drew on a wealth of interfaith
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During the 1920s and 1930s, the American Committee on Religious Rights and Minorities offered a potent challenge to the view of the United States as a Christian nation. The Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish members of the committee drew on a wealth of interfaith commitments to develop a critique of religious persecution around the world, especially the increasing anti-Semitism across Europe. In an era marked by isolationism, nationalism, and Christian triumphalism, the committee offered a competing vision of pluralist internationalism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christian Nationalism in the United States) Printed Edition available
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Revivalist Nationalism since World War II: From “Wake up, America!” to “Make America Great Again”
Religions 2016, 7(11), 128; doi:10.3390/rel7110128
Received: 30 September 2016 / Revised: 20 October 2016 / Accepted: 24 October 2016 / Published: 1 November 2016
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Abstract
Between 1945 and 1980, evangelicals emerged as a key political constituency in American politics, helping to form the Religious Right and work for the election of Ronald Reagan and other conservative Republicans. This article argues that they embraced a distinctive type of revivalist
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Between 1945 and 1980, evangelicals emerged as a key political constituency in American politics, helping to form the Religious Right and work for the election of Ronald Reagan and other conservative Republicans. This article argues that they embraced a distinctive type of revivalist nationalism, centered around the mass revival. Case studies of Billy Graham, Bill Bright, Jerry Falwell, and Ronald Reagan offer a narrative of postwar revivalist nationalism and demonstrate that evangelicals renegotiated the relationship between personal salvation and national renewal during this period, facilitating their mass entry into partisan politics. Billy Graham presented in his early crusades an unsophisticated assumption that mass conversion would lead to national renewal. Later revivalists such as Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, sought to reorient revivalism toward directed political organization, leading in the 1970s to decreasing emphasis on personal conversion and increasing focus on the political process. By the 1980 presidential election, the Religious Right had completely abandoned the priority of personal conversion and sought instead to revive the “principles” of a Christian America. Ronald Reagan embodied this principle-oriented revival, and helped crystalize a revivalist nationalism that remains embedded in contemporary evangelical politics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christian Nationalism in the United States) Printed Edition available

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