For the Bible Tells Us So: How To Show Christian Nationalism the Door

Christian nationalism won’t ever show itself out, so we need to help it find the door

LGBTQ+ people are far from alone in knowing the personal and collective impact of the seeping poison of Christian nationalism in our society, as it has steadily and significantly impacted various social and political landscapes, particularly in undermining the rights and dignity of marginalized groups.

As LGBTQ+ people of faith, here’s why we must fervently oppose Christian nationalism, advocating for a progressive, affirming vision of Christianity that genuinely reflects a spirit inclusivity and a love of justice. I have said as much before, but it is critical that it is said again — and again, and again.

And just so we’re all clear, including the folks in the back of the room:

Christian nationalism, by its very nature, seeks to merge a certain Christian identity with national identity, usually prioritizing certain interpretations of Christian doctrine over the foundational principles of equality and universal love. This alignment frequently results in the exclusion and vilification of those who do not fit within a narrow interpretation of what is considered “morally acceptable.”

Historically, this has had dire consequences for the LGBTQ+ community, manifesting in policies and social attitudes that directly conflict with the rights and recognitions of LGBTQ+ individuals.

Remember the “gay panic” defense?  Where do you think that came from?

Historically it has gotten our community arrested, beaten up, fired, denied housing, and even killed. It allowed HIV to get totally out of control and countless thousands to die horrifying deaths. If our younger readers have forgotten that holocaust, get the book And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Schilts.

Why progressive and affirming Christianity is the only option

We must understand that what Jesus taught was about inclusion. At its heart our faith calls for love, compassion, and justice.

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously — take God seriously. (Micah 6:8)

This understanding we have of Christianity makes this a mandate that encompasses all individuals — regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other attribute.

It is a recognition that our faith must grow and adopt an inclusive community that reflects God’s unconditional love for every one of God’s creations. This vision and practice challenges Christian nationalism’s restrictive norms, advocating instead for a faith that uplifts and affirms the dignity of all people, especially those historically marginalized by society.

The United Methodist Church was finally able step away from its decades of Christian-nationalist-perverted behavior. Because it is the church of my confirmation and the church of my formation, I almost have no words to express my heartfelt thankfulness for what has recently come to pass.

Yet this is only a first step; as a Facebook poster recently stated:

The UMC has taken the right step, but more must happen. Now that UMC has repealed the hateful language out of the BoD [Book of Discipline] regarding the LGBT clergy ban and officiating weddings. This is a beginning but it is NOT enough. The ‘incompatibility’ language must be removed as well.

The UMC MUST offer a public act of contrition and repentance seeking forgiveness from those who have been harmed by this rhetoric. They must apologize for this shortsightedness and beg for forgiveness from those who have been wounded, killed and harmed by their garbage theology. It must reinstate all of the Ministers whose lives and careers were destroyed by their hatred and eisegesis interpretation of the scriptures.

The Church must officially reprimand and condemn all of the false shepherds and ‘theologians’ who have held abusive power over the lives and careers of those harmed the last 50 years. Now is the time for new beginnings, not old fights. Reclaim Wesley’s theology of radical inclusion of all in God’s grace.

We must insist on inclusion over judgment

Christian nationalism’s penchant for judgment and exclusion starkly contrasts with the teachings of Christ, who ministered to and embraced those on the fringes of society. A call for the LGBTQ+ faith community to forefully reject Christian nationalism is a call back to these roots — a faith practice characterized not by exclusion, but by radical inclusion and love.

As Stephen Mattson puts it, “Always trust the inclusive love of Christ over the exclusive legalism of any Christian theology.”

This vision of Christianity is that true faith does not discriminate or harm. Rather, it seeks to understand, to heal, and to unite. It is a faith that recognizes the diversity of humanity as a reflection of the universal divine, celebrating and affirming LGBTQ+ identities within its fold rather than condemning them. Remember, we are not alone in this: Jesus spoke to and taught individuals, not governments.

We’re called to act

Christian nationalism’s continued imposition into society has led to significant setbacks for LGBTQ+ rights, as evident in historical and ongoing attempts to legislate morality grounded in a narrow interpretation of what is “normal” and “natural.”

For instance, the controversy surrounding restroom access for transgender individuals is a prime example of how Christian nationalist rhetoric has been used to infringe upon the rights and dignity of transgender people, framing them as “other” and a threat to societal norms.

Furthermore, the battle for marriage equality in various parts of the world, often vehemently opposed by proponents of Christian nationalism, showcases the stark and huge divide between an inclusive, affirming Christianity and a version of the faith used as a tool for exclusion and discrimination.

These instances underscore the necessity for the LGBTQ+ faith community to stand firmly against the ideologies propounded by Christian nationalism.

A faith-based rejection of Christian nationalism isn’t just a stand against discrimination; it’s an affirmation of the expansive, inclusive love that Christianity actually espouses. It’s a call to action for faith communities to embody a Christianity that embraces progress, affirms LGBTQ+ individuals wholeheartedly, and practices inclusion over judgment.

Richard Rohr makes that clear when he writes:

Saying a person is a heretic because they don’t believe this, or that they’re going to hell because they don’t believe that, or that God doesn’t love them because they don’t have this mental abstraction that we have decided would save us — where did Jesus say any of this? Where did Jesus say there was a set of mental abstractions we had to believe that would make God love us or that would ensure that we would go to heaven?

For us as a community to continue to support and entertain, whether tacitly or overtly, those faith traditions that allow such spiritual mediocrity to flourish is to do nothing while our sisters and brothers are slaughtered emotionally, mentally and physically.

For just such a time as this

Remember the story of Esther? How she tried to avoid doing anything?

When Hathach told Mordecai what Esther had said, Mordecai sent her this message: ‘Don’t think that just because you live in the king’s house you’re the one Jew who will get out of this alive. If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for the Jews from someplace else; but you and your family will be wiped out. Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.’ (Esther 4:13-14)

By vocally and actively opposing Christian nationalism, the LGBTQ+ faith community asserts that faith and love cannot be co-opted by ideologies that seek to exclude and divide. Instead, we champion a vision of Christianity that is compatible with our rights — a vision characterized by love, inclusivity, and justice for all.

My own church’s Eastertide Bible study has been centered on Skye Jethani’s book What If Jesus Was Serious? — a certainly tongue-in-cheek title encompassing a series of short essays that frame key teachings of Jesus in a modern, everyday context. As we progress through our weekly lessons, we have yet to encounter anything that feels remotely designed to stoke the kind of fear-based witness that is Christian nationalism’s currency of choice.

Instead, not shockingly, it’s all about love. Here are three sample statements from Chapter 4 of the book, titled “Love in Action”:

If Jesus was serious … then our self sacrifice should extend to even our enemies.

If Jesus was serious… then prayer will transform how we see our enemies.

If Jesus was serious… then we will love with our actions, not merely our feelings.

Calling out Christian nationalism isn’t only a matter of justice — it’s witness. It’s how we reflect the true spirit of our faith.

Rejecting Christian nationalism is how our faith truly becomes a source of hope, healing, and unity in a divided world.

Standing together against Christian nationalism is how we unite in love and faith as we work toward a more inclusive and accepting society for all.

Let’s take our stand together

We can — and must — stand together in the way the Prophet Isaiah said:

The Master, God, has given me
    a well-taught tongue,
So I know how to encourage tired people.
    He wakes me up in the morning,
Wakes me up, opens my ears
    to listen as one ready to take orders.
The Master, God, opened my ears,
    and I didn’t go back to sleep,
    didn’t pull the covers back over my head.
I followed orders,
    stood there and took it while they beat me,
    held steady while they pulled out my beard,
Didn’t dodge their insults,
    faced them as they spit in my face.
And the Master, God, stays right there and helps me,
    so I’m not disgraced.
Therefore I set my face like flint,
    confident that I’ll never regret this.
My champion is right here.
    Let’s take our stand together!
Who dares bring suit against me?
    Let him try!
Look! the Master, God, is right here.
    Who would dare call me guilty?
Look! My accusers are a clothes bin of threadbare
    socks and shirts, fodder for moths! (Isaiah 4-9)

We must never forget that the true essence of faith lies in its ability to bring people together, not drive them apart.

Let us strive towards this unity and use our voices to advocate for a world where all individuals are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their gender or sexual identity.

Together, we can bring about a more compassionate and loving future for all. We must continue to stand firm and unwavering against Christian nationalism, for the sake of love, faith, and justice for all. Let this be our legacy — one that truly embodies the teachings of Jesus and stands up against discrimination in all its forms.

And let us remember that the LGBTQ+ faith community is not alone in this fight. There are many others who share our beliefs and stand by our side as allies in this struggle for true inclusivity and acceptance.

Together, we can create a more loving and understanding world, where all individuals are embraced and celebrated for who they are and as they are.

Let us continue to work toward this vision, with love and compassion as our guiding principles.

In the end, it is not about winning or losing, but about standing up for what is right and just. The LGBTQ+ faith community must continue to be a beacon of hope and love in the face of discrimination and hate. For who knows but that for such a time as this have we been called.