Kanye West, Trump, anti-Semitism can separate Christian nationalists

  • Recent anti-Semitic comments by Kanye West and Nick Fuentes have sparked widespread outrage.
  • But they also revealed a darker side to Christian nationalism that has always been there, experts say.
  • This shift could hamper the recent resurgence of Christian nationalism in mainstream politics.

Former President Donald Trump’s meeting with Kanye West and Nick Fuentes has helped shine a light on anti-Semitism that some on the right have tried to ignore – and could hamper the growing influence of Christian nationalism.

“The label of Christian nationalism was already causing a lot of debate among conservative Christians in the United States. Now you’re throwing anti-Semitism into the mix, and I think that’s creating yet another set of divisions,” Philip Gorski, sociologist at Yale University and the co-author of “The Flag and the Cross: White Christian Nationalism and the Threat to American Democracy,” Insider said.

Trump met with Ye and Fuentes — a white supremacist and Christian nationalist known to hold racist and anti-Semitic views — at Mar-a-Lago on November 22. The former president later denied knowing anything about Fuentes, but weeks before the meeting Ye had also received criticism for his own anti-Semitic comments, including saying he was going to go ‘death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE’.

Ye’s anti-Semitism continued, boosted by the notoriety of the meeting with Trump. On Dec. 1, the rapper appeared with Fuentes on Alex Jones’ Infowars show, during which he praised Adolf Hitler and downplayed the Holocaust.

Ye working with Fuentes and meeting Trump — and how he’s already been embraced by others on the right, from Fox News’ Tucker Carlson to GOP members of the House Judiciary Committee — has forced some conservatives and Christian nationalists to reckon with one side of the movement they preferred to pretend wasn’t there.

Christian nationalism and white supremacy

Gorski said he and other scholars of Christian nationalism had long said the ideology was intertwined with white supremacism, but received a lot of pushback for it. “People say, ‘That’s not true. I don’t know anyone who is like that. I don’t know anyone who thinks that,” Gorski explained.

The recent scandals with Ye and Fuentes have “just brought some of this deeper, uglier stuff to the surface and into the open, but it was there all the time.”

Christian nationalism can generally be boiled down to the belief that Christianity and the United States are intrinsically linked and that religion should have a privileged position in American society. Americans who support Christian nationalist ideas may not identify as Christian nationalists. They could also embrace some aspects of the ideology but not others, so there is a wide range of Christians who could be considered part of the movement.

“White Christian nationalism is older than the United States itself, and it really dates back to the 17th century,” Gorski explained, adding that the concept “came up in many ways as a way to justify the theft of Indigenous lands. and the murder of Natives, and the enslavement of the kidnapped”. Africans.”

Today there are still many Christian nationalists who, when they talk about good Americans, mean people who look and think like them, he said: “It means, above all, Christians conservative whites.

Andrew Whitehead, sociologist at IUPUI and co-author of “Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States,” found similar links between Christian nationalism and anti-Semitism.

“In our book, we show that Americans who more strongly embrace Christian nationalism are more likely to agree that ‘Jews have values ​​that are morally inferior to me,’ ‘Jews want to limit personal freedoms people like me” and “Jews endanger the physical safety of people like me,” Whitehead told Insider.

Additional research has also found strong links between Christian nationalism, anti-Semitism, QAnon supporters and Trump supporters. And a practical guide to Christian nationalism published in September by Gab founder Andrew Torba was plagued with anti-Semitism.

The Divided Christian Right

Despite the connection, Gorski said Christian nationalists would likely have “pretty complicated reactions” to Ye and Fuentes’ situation “because they have a pretty complicated relationship with Israel, Judaism and American Jews.”

Gorski said there was far less blatant anti-Semitism among conservative Christians in the United States than there was in the mid-20th century. He said it’s hard to quantify, but he thinks the average “Christian nationalists of the garden variety are probably not explicitly or consciously anti-Semitic,” even if there is a “hardline faction” that is. .

The American right has also been closely linked to support for Israel in recent decades, in part because of what Gorski described as a expansion pack for Christian nationalism: Christian Zionism – which refers to the belief some Christians that the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 was the fulfillment of biblical prophecy.

A 2017 LifeWay poll found that 80% of evangelical Christians, a group more likely to embrace Christian nationalism, believed the creation of Israel was part of the fulfillment of a Bible prophecy that would lead to the return of Christ. Survey respondents were also overwhelmingly politically conservative.

Gorski noted that there is also a sentiment among some conservative Christians that differentiates Jews by location, describing the thought as follows: “The true homeland of Jews is Israel, therefore a good Jew is in Israel, therefore an American Jew is not is not a good Jew. “According to this strange logic, a Christian Zionist could be considered a better Jew than a Jew,” he explained, noting a comment made in October by the wife of Doug Mastriano, the failed candidate for governor of Pennsylvania In response to accusations of anti-Semitism against her husband, Rebecca Mastriano said “we probably love Israel more than a lot of Jews.”

The division among Christian nationalists when it comes to Jewish people was highlighted when Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia publicly criticized Fuentes, even though she herself was accused of anti-Semitism and even attended an event with him earlier this year.

Greene is one of the few prominent Republicans — and the only congressman — to openly identify as a Christian nationalist. But after the appearance of Alex Jones, she publicly denounced Fuentes and its “racist” and “anti-Semitic” ideology. She also called him ‘racist’ and ‘immature’ on her To display and said it “makes no sense” for Ye to line up with him.

Sources replied attacking her character: “She wants to be the face of Christian nationalism. She is divorced and actively adulterous,” he said, referring to rumors. “How are you going to be the face of Christian nationalism when you’re a divorcee girlboss?”

Saying the Quiet Part Out Loud Could Hurt the Christian Nationalist Movement

Greene’s rejection of Fuentes was also notable, as he forced her to confront a side of Christian nationalism that she had previously refused to acknowledge.

In addition to identifying with the term, she has become a major proponent of its ideals. Greene has said the GOP should be the party of Christian nationalism and even sells products emblazoned with the term. She also tried to dismiss criticism of the movement as coming from the “godly left” who hate both the United States and God, and ignored those who pointed to documented links between Christian nationalism and white supremacy.

But Fuentes and Ye, bolstered by a high-profile encounter with the former president, have made those connections much harder to ignore — and could help deter conservative Christians who would otherwise have been intrigued by the move.

While Christian nationalism as a concept is still in historic decline, its recent resurgence and influence in mainstream politics could be under threat if more far-right figures continue to shine a light on its uglier aspects.

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