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Editorial

Religions Series: “Christian Nationalism in the United States”—Ebook Introduction

Department of History, Political Economy, Geography, and Social Studies, Spring Arbor University, 106 E Main St, Spring Arbor, MI 49283, USA
Religions 2017, 8(5), 93; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8050093
Received: 9 May 2017 / Revised: 10 May 2017 / Accepted: 10 May 2017 / Published: 13 May 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christian Nationalism in the United States)
While Christianity in American history remains a vibrant subfield, the subject of Christian nationalism in the United States remains understudied. The best survey on the topic, Robert T. Handy’s A Christian America: Protestant Hopes and Historical Realities, was lasted updated in 1984. The long absence of studies is particularly striking, given that related abstractions such as “civil religion” and “culture wars” receive regular updates. Recently, a number of historians have returned directly and indirectly to the subject of Christian nationalism, including John Fea (Fea 2016), Steven Green (Green 2015), Amanda Porterfield (Porterfield 2015), David Sehat (Sehat 2011), Emily Conroy-Krutz, (Conroy-Krutz 2015), Matthew Sutton (Sutton 2004), Kevin Kruse (Kruse 2015), Michael Thompson (Thompson 2015), and Sam Haselby (Haselby 2015), among others. Their scholarship teaches us several lessons. First, we should avoid “decline and revival” narratives and understand Christian nationalism as a construction (a “myth,” as Green terms it) 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” 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.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

References

  1. Fea, John. 2016. Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? Revised Edition: A Historical Introduction. Louisville: Westminster John Knox. [Google Scholar]
  2. Green, Steven. 2015. Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding. New York: Oxford University Press. [Google Scholar]
  3. Porterfield, Amanda. 2015. Conceived in Doubt: Religion and Politics in the New American Nation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. [Google Scholar]
  4. Sehat, David. 2011. The Myth of American Religious Freedom. New York: Oxford University Press. [Google Scholar]
  5. Conroy-Krutz, Emily. 2015. Christian Imperialism: Converting the World in the Early American Republic. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. [Google Scholar]
  6. Sutton, Matthew Avery. 2014. American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism. Cambridge: Belknap Press. [Google Scholar]
  7. Kruse, Kevin. 2015. One Nation under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America. New York: Basic. [Google Scholar]
  8. Thompson, Michael. 2015. For God and Globe: Christian Internationalism in the United States between the Great War and the Cold War. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. [Google Scholar]
  9. Haselby, Sam. 2015. The Origins of American Religious Nationalism. New York: Oxford University Press. [Google Scholar]
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