The Christian Nationalism Scale and what it means

Christian nationalism is a term that has been utilized broadly, especially since January 6th, 2021. How do you define Christian nationalism? And how do you know if someone is Christian nationalist?

Lucky for all of us, there are experts out there doing the analysis and creating the path for the rest of us to follow. I’m not one of those experts, but I do what I can to share what I’ve found from two of the best: Andrew Whitehead and Samuel Perry. They’ve written a book called Taking America Back For God and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Please, go buy it.

Defining Christian nationalism

First, a definition of Christian nationalism from their book:

  • Christian nationalism (CN) is a cultural framework — a collection of myths, traditions, symbols, narratives, and value systems — that idealizes and advocates a fusion of Christianity with American civic life

6 Questions

Whitehead and Perry’s research has led them to establishing a Christian nationalism scale, built around 6 questions from the Baylor Religion Study. Let’s find out where you land and what it means.

Answer the following 6 questions with:

  • Strongly Disagree
  1. The federal government should declare the United States a Christian nation

Now that you answered the 6 questions above, here is how you score each question. For questions 1, 2, 4, 5, 6: 0 — Strongly Disagree, 1 — Disagree, 2 — Unsure, 3 — Agree, 4 — Strongly Agree

Question 3 (the Separation of Church and State one) is reverse scored, so it is: 4 — Strongly Disagree 3 — Disagree 2 — Unsure 1 — Agree 0 — Strongly Agree

Add up your scores above and see where you landed on the scale: 0–5 Rejecter 6–11 Resister 12–17 Accomodator 18–24 Ambassador

What follows are my summations from some of the data Whitehead and Perry lay out in their book. Again, please go buy Taking America Back For God and read it. There is way more detail than I’m going to drop in this post.

Rejecters (a zero to 5 score)

21.5% of the US population and believe there should be no connection between Christianity and politics, that the wall of seperation between church and state is high and impenetrable, or at least is should be.

Resisters (6 to 11 score)

26.6% of the US population and may disagree prayer should be instituted in public schools and believe government should not officially declare the US a Christian nation, but may be undecided on display of religious symbols.

They lean toward rejecting CN.

Accomodators (12 to 17 score)

32.1% of the US population and are somewhat undecided toward CN, but lean toward accepting it. Generally comfortable with the idea of America’s Christian foundations and amenable to the idea of a society where Christianity is conspicuous, but don’t fully favor Christianity alone in the public sphere.

Ambassadors (18 to 24 score)

19.8% of the US population and are wholly supportive of Christian nationalism. The 19.8% is across the country on the whole. Where you live, the percentage could be much much higher (looking at myself on that one).

Christian nationalist beliefs

Where you landed on the 6 simple questions, where your overall score put you, it is the primary predictor on a whole host of other issues. What I find truly interesting is there is no single demographic profile for a Christian nationalist Ambassador. You find them across a whole host of religious affiliations (granted at different levels), by region of the country, and by education levels. So you can’t just say “all of this group are Christian nationalists”. But…

…there are common Christian nationalist (CN) ambassador beliefs. Once someone has answered the 6 questions and landed in the Ambassador space, they very likely ALSO believe:

  • The Founders were establishing a Christian nation and merely refrained from choosing a specific denomination

Christian Nationalism In Action

Those core beliefs translate into some very direct correlations to other issues, with Christian nationalist Ambassador being the strongest predictor that Americans:

  • Voted for Donald Trump
  • Oppose scientists and science education in public schools in favor of creationism
  • Hold views in opposition to same-sex marriage or civil unions and transgender rights

The “predictors” above this are pulled from this article: “Christian Nationalism Talks Religion, But Walks Fascism” by Perry and Whitehead.

Those aren’t the only things being a Christian nationalist Ambassador predicts. We are in a pandemic. Want to understand people’s behavior? Know where they fall on the CN scale.

Christian nationalism is one of the strongest predictors that Americans:

  • are more susceptible to conspiracy theories

The predictors above are pulled from this study, “How Culture Wars Delay Herd Immunity” by Whitehead and Perry.

We see it playing out every day in our communities, on social media, and on the news. When you hear it, know it is Christian nationalism.

We can run ourselves ragged fighting issue after issue that pops up all over our collective lawn. Until we realize every one of these weeds showing up are connected, we won’t stop them. The root below all of these issues is Christian nationalism.

See it, say it, fight it.

Andrew Whitehead and Samuel Perry are both on Twitter. I highly recommend you follow them.

I’ve tried compiling a list of books, articles, podcasts, and experts you can check out to better understand what you see happening all around us. Access it here.

I chart Texas Politics at christackettnow.com and write about things that matter (to me at least) whenever the muse hits.