Week Three of Nonfiction November is all about nonfiction books that almost don’t seem real. Our host, Christopher from Plucked from the Stacks, tells participants, “Basically, if it makes your jaw drop, you can highlight it for this week’s topic.”
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Last year for this prompt, I was happy to share some books on the natural wonders of our world including some Sagan classics, but this year, I’m taking a more… ominous route. While I already knew what Christian Nationalism was, I didn’t fully understand just how far its sinister tentacles reached until I read The Power Worshippers. The author herself only learned the truth about it when The Good News Club came to her children’s (public) school with the intent of indoctrinating her children.
What is Christian Nationalism?
I knew about Christian Nationalism because I had read The Founding Myth, which explains why the axiom “America is a Christian nation” is fundamentally untrue. From what I can tell, Freethinkers, American Gospel, Inventing a Christian America, and Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? tell similar stories about the founding and how it’s been twisted into a lie. One Nation Under God will tell you that this idea of a Christian nation was born much more recently than you think, and you can thank capitalism for it.
Similarly, there are other books that I’ve held off buying and reading until now because they also discuss the rise of Christian Nationalism, like Kingdom Coming, or explain what Christian Nationalism is, like Taking America Back for God. God’s Right Hand isn’t just another story of the rise of religious nationalism, but since it’s a biography of Jerry Falwell Sr., it might as well be.
Upon first glance, I thought American Crusade was another general deep-dive into the deadly phenomenon, but it is actually a case-by-case walkthrough of how the Supreme Court upholds Christian Nationalism. It includes a searing chapter on the case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, and if you want to go more in-depth on Hobby Lobby’s plot to literally take over the country, then you might want to read Bible Nation. American Crusade also introduced me to Dark Money and reminded me to read my copy of The Family (which is also a documentary!).
Good old Christian racism
Any discussion of Christian Nationalism wouldn’t be complete without examining White Evangelical Racism. For in-depth analyses of the tie between white supremacy and the evangelical church, albeit from a white author, try White Too Long or The End of White Christian America. Also from a white author, Bad Faith tells the story of the rise of the Religious Right, like others I’ve listed, but with a more explicit emphasis on racism. The Color of Compromise is an insider’s look at racism in the church.
Other Christians are not afraid to call out the church’s support of racist right-wing politics, either. That’s exactly the task that the authors of Republican Jesus, Confronting Christofascism, Christians Against Christianity, The Religion of American Greatness, and American Idolatry took on for their books.
Of course, we know that Christian Nationalists don’t only target people of color, but all women or pregnancy-capable people. Wrath Of Angels isn’t marketed as a book on Christian Nationalism per se, but I think it is a powerful look at the role religion plays in the rise of anti-abortion extremism and clinic protests.
How Christian Nationalism led to Trump
That’s not to say that men are safe in these spaces, either. Jesus and John Wayne explains how evangelicals inculcate “masculinity” into men from boyhood, which in turn often grooms them into violence, misogyny, and fanatical patriotic chauvinism. This story leads us right into the 2016 election and why Trump’s win wasn’t a surprise after all. Unholy also explores the role white Christian Nationalists played in Trump’s election.
Likewise, Preparing for War tells readers how unsurprising the January 6th insurrection was for someone who grew up in Christian Nationalist culture. The Flag and the Cross tells a similar story, from a broader sociological standpoint.
I hope you enjoyed this master list of Christian Nationalism books, and that you’ll give them a try. I try to keep a lighthearted tone during Nonfiction November, but Christian Nationalism is literally threatening our democracy and using religion as an excuse to strip everyone of their rights. Recently, I started my dream job at Americans United for Separation of Church and State where I dedicate my career to fighting Christian Nationalism. I hope you enjoy these TikToks I created for them giving some recommendations of books on Christian Nationalism, all of which I included in this post!