Michael Flynn, Trump and America’s Christian nationalism risk

In September, the Related Press and PBS Frontline launched the primary a part of an in-depth reporting challenge how retired basic Michael Flynn, former President Donald Trump’s safety adviser who pleaded responsible to mendacity to the FBI, has been relentlessly stumping for Trump whereas warning his audiences that the U.S. is within the midst of non secular warfare. Flynn “has drawn collectively election deniers, masks and vaccine opponents, insurrectionists, Proud Boys, and elected officers and leaders in state and native Republican events,” writes Michelle R. Smith. In sum, the report particulars how Flynn has grow to be a central determine in a community of extremists, conspiracy theorists, and election deniers held collectively by the integrating mechanism of Christian nationalism. 

Christian nationalism is changing into an even bigger issue amongst Republican voters, with 61 % of Republican respondents saying they supported declaring america a Christian nation.

Additionally final month, a brand new College of Maryland Essential Points Ballot was launched suggesting Christian nationalism is changing into an even bigger issue amongst Republican voters, with 61 % of Republican respondents saying they supported declaring america a Christian nation.

These two issues are usually not unconnected. 

As the students Samuel Perry and Philip Gorski present of their latest work “The Flag and the Cross,” white Christian nationalism particularly just isn’t about orthodox Christian perception and even Christian apply. The “Christian” in Christian nationalism is known as a cultural id that makes use of Christian symbols and myths to bind collectively American nationalism to white ethnicity. In different phrases, it offers a transcendent authority to a motion that seeks to consolidate political energy and, typically, preserve white ethno-cultural requirements. 

Michael Flynn speaks on stage through the ReAwaken America tour at Cornerstone Church, in Batavia, N.Y., on Aug. 12, 2022.Carolyn Kaster / AP file

One of many geniuses of Christian nationalism is its agility. As a cultural id, Christian nationalism is nimble and versatile sufficient to incorporate each militia teams, QAnon theorists and election deniers who consider Trump is the rightful president — to not point out conservative Christians for whom the rhetoric of non secular warfare and apocalypse are on a regular basis parlance. 

Flynn is a very high-profile chief who has seamlessly married religion, conspiracy, politics and militancy. However he’s not precisely distinctive. Loads of Christian nationalists on the American proper have gotten MAGA celebrities. Some earn vital sums by claiming the election was stolen and asking God to revive the nation to greatness, even when it takes a civil warfare. (And so they’re typically saying so in much more bombastic methods than Flynn.)

What is distinctive about Flynn is that he was as soon as a respectable insider within the American armed forces. The three-star basic could have retired from the army, however he stays a loyal soldier in Trump’s military. Within the minds of his audiences, Flynn’s authority and credentials are unassailable. Thus, his attraction stretches throughout the varied dimensions of the MAGA motion, making him a robust node in a hardy coalition. When, because the AP/Frontline report exhibits, Flynn says that America is within the midst of “non secular warfare,” claims that public faculties are educating “filth” and “pornography,” explains that many Individuals are “evil” and “don’t assume and act like us,” and asserts that Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a literal demon, it hits in a different way. 

Whereas the report from AP is alarming, those that learn Flynn’s memoir already knew how conspiratorial his worldview had grow to be over the past decade. Former President Barack Obama warned Trump to not choose Flynn as his nationwide safety advisor — to no avail. Shortly after Flynn began the job, staffers shortly grew to become frightened about how excessive his views appeared. Throughout a  December 2020 assembly with Trump, Flynn reportedly unfold lies about election fraud and referred to as for martial legislation. He has not softened his tone.

Whereas Christian nationalism is extra about cultural id than theology or non secular apply, it’s value peering behind the rhetoric to grasp the theological underpinnings of this campaign to “save” America. Flynn has teamed up with a particular model of Christian extremists who belong to a motion largely unknown to most Individuals, dominionism, impressed by one thing generally known as the 7 Mountain Mandate. Flynn appeared on stage with outstanding dominionist Rev. John Hagee at Hagee’s San Antonio church throughout a November 2021 cease on the “ReAwaken America” tour. There, Flynn referred to as for a nationwide American faith. “If we’re going to have one nation beneath God, which we should, now we have to have one faith. One nation beneath God, and one faith beneath God,” he stated. 

Dominionism, like Christian nationalism, remains to be principally a descriptive time period utilized from the skin, by lecturers and journalists. Nonetheless, now that varied right-wing politicians and pundits have began to embrace the time period “Christian nationalist” we’d begin to see a extra open embrace of “dominionism” as properly. 

The motion has roots in Pentecostalism, which in flip has its roots in a Nineteenth-century American motion centered on the Holy Spirit and the conferral of pastoral authority by means of direct anointing from God. However dominionism additionally attracts vital affect from R.J. Rushdoony’s Christian Reconstructionism, which requires theonomy — a society ruled by the biblical legal guidelines and pointers discovered within the Hebrew Bible. Dominionism particularly requires Christians to reclaim the “seven mountains of dominion” in society for God: household, faith, schooling, media, leisure, enterprise, and authorities. 

The dominionist subgroup that has arguably gotten probably the most traction these days is the New Apostolic Reformation. Based by C. Peter Wagner within the Nineteen Nineties, adherents like Paula White grew to become well-known through the Trump administration. NAR adherents consider in modern-day prophets with a direct line to God, anointed apostles, and non secular warfare fought by Christians in opposition to demons. Sure adherents of non secular warfare consider that not solely individuals, however buildings and establishments, may be possessed by evil spirits (therefore Flynn’s feedback about Pelosi.) 

Because the AP/Frontline report highlights, white Christian nationalism has united disparate elements of the MAGA motion by providing them a cultural id to rally behind. And whereas it could be arduous to consider, Flynn is definitely extra understated and matter of reality than most of the movie star pastors and pundits who garner headlines. That makes him highly effective — and the results of that energy are worrisome. 

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