In an article this week, the Washington Post put it as bluntly as we have in the past: “Christian nationalists in fact harbor a set of extreme beliefs at odds with pluralistic democracy.”

Reporting on a new poll released by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution, the Post breaks down the most alarming figures from this poll.

To establish the level of commitment to Christian nationalist beliefs, the poll measured agreement with the following five statements:

  • “The U.S. government should declare America a Christian nation.”
  • “U.S. laws should be based on Christian values.”
  • “If the U.S. moves away from our Christian foundations, we will not have a country anymore.”
  • “Being Christian is an important part of being truly American.”
  • “God has called Christians to exercise dominion over all areas of American society.”

It probably comes as no surprise to you that 10% of people agree or strongly agree with these statements. After all, we have been ringing the alarm bells about this for years. 

But add to that the 19% who agree with at least some of those statements, and you are looking at almost a third of American adults—roughly 70 million—siding with the dangerous and extreme Christian nationalist ideology. 

Among white evangelical Protestants, that number rises to almost two-thirds at least somewhat agreeing.

A Christian nation. Basing laws on “Christian values.” Dominion over our society. These beliefs are fundamentally incompatible with our values as atheists and out of step with the overwhelming majority of Americans.

Are these Christian nationalists a majority? No. But are they politically engaged and influential? You bet. And their allies in government are more than happy to reinforce these prejudices.

In her response to Tuesday’s State of the Union Address, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated, with a wink and a nod to these voters, that “Every day, we are told that we must partake in their rituals, salute their flags, and worship their false idols…”

YouTube screenshot

The hypocrisy is almost too much.

Later, she added: “We know not what the future holds, but we know who holds the future in His hands. And with God as our witness, we will show the world that America is still the place where freedom reigns and liberty will never die.”

It would be easy to dismiss these ideologies as the ramblings of misguided cranks and opportunistic politicians. We could sit on our hands in the hope that forward-thinking people will ensure that our pluralistic ideals will remain, despite the drumbeat of nationalism of the worst kind.

But you and I both know that we can’t afford to take that chance. Demographics, as the saying goes, are not destiny.

We have always been fighters for religious freedom and pluralism. This data confirms what we’ve always said: Our values are American values. Standing up for church-state separation is both necessary and popular with our fellow Americans. Thank you for all you do to stand up for those values.


Nick Fish

P.S. We’re gearing up for our 2023 National Convention in Phoenix! If you haven’t joined us for an in-person conference in the past few years, now is the perfect time. With three days of community, interesting talks, and fun with hundreds of your fellow atheists from all over the country, it’s the one event you don’t want to miss. Get your tickets today!

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