Readings in Christian Nationalism

Malcom Gregory Scott
11 min readFeb 25, 2024

I’ve been reading all these books about Christian nationalism, and I now believe the confluence of Donald Trump’s opportunism with a surge in this extreme movement represents a singular threat to our already tattered constitutional democracy, and poses a grave and immediate danger to queer people.

Like many queer activists, I’ve been observing and opposing the Christian nationalist movement most of my adult life.

When Queer Nation mounted the pentagon steps to fight the ban on LGBTQ military service, we were standing against Christian nationalism.

When dozens of us were arrested while protesting Cardinal O’Connor’s Mass for the Unborn at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, we were assailing Christian nationalism.

And when we petitioned the District of Columbia to repeal its antiquated sodomy laws, we were, in fact, confronting Christian nationalism.

These are the same forces queerkind has been battling since before Stonewall… and ever since.

So… queers please hear this: our liberties hang in the balance, imperiled as perhaps they haven’t been since the early years of the AIDS crisis, when US cabinet secretaries openly mused tattooing people with AIDS, and putting us in camps.

I know it sounds like hyperbole. But, after a lifetime of enduring Christian approbation and a year of studying a reinvigorated Christian nationalist agenda, and foreseeing the inevitability of a Trump nomination, I can assume no other posture.

Christian Nationalism is not a religion; it’s a top-down political movement seeking to undermine the separation of church and state, privilege a particular strain of white evangelical Christianity over other religions and non-belief, and ultimately to implement Old Testament biblical law, right here in the good ole USA.

The movement is openly hostile to LGBTQ Americans, and its influence on the Republican Party is evident in recent red state policy backlashes targeting queer visibility, gender affirming care, and marriage equality.

Adherents to Christian nationalism have made two things very clear: they hate queerkind and they love Donald Trump. Can you hear the alarm bells?

I’ve assembled a bibliography for those interested in learning more about this imminent threat to queer life and liberty. I first read some of these books years ago upon their initial publication, but they remain relevant today, especially for their contemporaneous accounts of the rise of Christian nationalism through the decades, and in some cases their jarring prescience. However, most of these titles have been published only in the last few years, as more critics grow concerned about the movement’s mounting influence, and more proponents have openly defended their extreme authoritarian agenda.

I’ll be amending this list with brief summaries in the near future, as well as producing videos discussing some of them in greater detail. (Last edited 03/01/24.) I’ve loosely organized the titles by categories, and, though chosen for my own purposes, I’ve included them here should others find them helpful. They should not be construed as authoritative in any way.

Readings in Christian Nationalism Bibliography

Category key:

1. journalist critique

2. theological critique

3. memoir/personal critique

4. legal critique

5. historical critique.

6. sociological critique

7. political critique

8. social psychology

9. historical defense

10. theological/philosophical defense

11. political defense

12. policy proposal/strategy

Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right (1)

by Sara Diamond (South End Press, Boston, 1989)

Sociologist Sara Diamond has made a lifelong study of the Christian Right, and this, the first of her several books on the topic, provides one of the best contemporaneous accounts of the newly organized white evangelical Christian political movement as it emerged in the latter 20th century. Deeply researched and painstakingly cited, it offers a broad thematic analysis of the network of organizations and personalities that comprised the then nascent movement, the issues that animated it, and the shifts in theology and biblical interpretation that permitted it.

Mine Eyes have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America (1)

by Randall Balmer (Oxford University Press, New York, 1989)

Randall Balmer is an Episcopal priest and an historian of American religion who has published numerous critiques of the Christian right. In Mine Eyes he travels the country, taking readers into the “heart of evangelical America” to offer a summary history of evangelicalism, and a prescient one, too. Among the places he visits is Multnomah Bible College, still going strong as Multnomah University, right up the road from my Portland home, and following exactly the road Balmer foresaw. This book is a companion to a PBS television series, full episodes of which are still available to stream on YouTube as of this writing.

The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power (1)

by Jeff Sharlett (HarperCollins Pubilshing, New York, 2008) AND

C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy (1)

by Jeff Sharlett (Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2010)

The first two books by journalist and religious studies scholar Jeff Sharlett, taken together, provide a thoroughly investigated and comprehensive account of white evangelical Christianity’s most elite powerbrokers, and illustrate how extreme, fundamentalist, often regressive views, held by only a minority of Americans but abetted by a fortune in donors’ money, achieved outsized influence in Washington D.C. In breathless, sometimes mournful prose, Sharlett traces the roots of modern American fundamentalism to 1935 and the ideas of Abram Vereide to tell an origin story for a muscular, masculine, “key man” gospel aimed at the elites of industry and commerce, and destined to ultimately wrap the powerful, reputedly righteous heirs of this gospel in an ideological cloak of blamelessness, however egregious their sins. Alongside Kristin Kobes Du Mez’ historical ethnography of masculinity’s intersection with white evangelical Christianity in Jesus and John Wayne and André Gagné’s explanation of the Cyrus prophecy in American Evangelicals for Trump, these are essential reading for understanding how the Christian nationalist movement was easing the way for Trump long before he came down the escalator.

The Undertow: Scenes from a Slow Civil War (1)

by Jeff Sharlett (W.W. Norton, New York, 2023)

This heartbreaking book, the third in Sharlett’s trilogy, carries readers to the farthest outposts of America’s religious politics to reveal some of the country’s hidden enclaves of extreme Christian nationalism and political rebellion. From Michael Flynn’s ReAwaken America Tour to prosperity gospel megachurches to the steps of the Capitol on January 6, 2021, Scarlett weaves a story of American dissolution punctuated with touches of poignant hope, and even some small redemptions. Of all the books I’ve read on this topic, Undertow stands out for its capture of authentic and profound American emotional experiences, and its singular depiction of the psychic costs of our “slow civil war.”

The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelism in an Age of Extremism (1/3)

by Tim Alberta (HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2023)

This personal memoir from a professional journalist, raised in the evangelical church founded by his preacher father, recounts his discovery, upon his father’s death, that Trumpism and the MAGA movement are perverting his father’s congregation, as well as American evangelicalism writ large. After being harassed at his father’s funeral for his earlier book, critical, as it had been, of Trump, Alberta sets out on a quest to understand how the evangelicalism of his childhood morphed into the Christian nationalism of the Trump era. With an all-access pass to a veritable who’s who in evangelicalism today, Alberta’s is one of the more interesting personal efforts to track this consequential shift.

American Idolatry: How Christian Nationalism Betrays the Gospel and Threatens theChurch (2/6)

by Andrew L. Whitehead (Brazos Press, Grand Rapids, MI, 2023)

With his professional sociological expertise as a framework, the author uses his personal memoir of growing up in the white evangelical world to explore the tensions between his Christian and American identities, and how tenants of the Christian nationalist movement contradict his own understanding of the Christian gospel.

American Evangelicals for Trump: Dominion, Spiritual Warfare, and the End Times (2,7)

by André Gagné (Routledge, New York, 2024)

This well-cited and concise work, translated from Gagné’s French by Linda Shanahanm, attempts to explain to a non-American audience why white evangelical Christians would support Trump, hardly a moral exemplar. Gagné organizes this treatise around the three big ideas held commonly among the Christians most devoted toTrump: (1) dominionism, a theology of power that mandates Christians, and only Christians, rule the earth, (2) a faith in spiritual warfare that calls followers to defeat, through prayer, the demons and spirits that they believe control the government, as well as every other sector of American life, and (3) a revised understanding of the end times that requires Christains to establish God’s kingdom here on earth right now. Though brief compared to other surveys of the topic, American Evangelicals for Trump does achieve its goal of explaining Trump’s appeal to these sects of Americans, and provides detailed notes and a deep bibliography for further study.

Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse? An Analysis of Christian Reconstructionism (2/5)

By H. Wayne House and Thomas Ice (Multnomah Press, Portland, OR, 1988)

This thoughtful analysis from evangelical scholars follows the theological and hermeneutical developments within the evangelical movement that undergird its most Christian nationalist trends. It provides a granular biblical critique of dominion and reconstruction theologies, as well as parsing the complexities of eschatology and examining how shifts in beliefs about the end times changed the culture of the church.

Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived toTake All (or Almost All) of It Back (3)

by Frank Schaeffer (Carroll & Graf Publishers, Cambridge, MA 2007)

This engrossing memoir finds us inside the evangelical movement of the early 1970’s alongside a scion to one of the first families of America fundamentalism. Schaffer tells how he not only watched, but acted as right hand man as his influential father successfully united evangelical christians around opposition to abortion in the years following Roe v. Wade. Told with a retrospectively critical understanding of tactics, goals, and personalities, this honest coming-of-age account explains why Schaefer ultimately walked away from his influential position in the evangelical world, having realized the religious right leaders to whom he and his father had leant credibility were, in fact, “anti-American religious revolutionaries.”

Youth Group: Coming of Age in the Church of Christian Nationalism (3)

by Lance Aksamit (John Hunt Publishing, Ltd., Alresford, Hampshire, UK, 2023)

Taking us along on his experiences growing up as a “missionary kid”, Aksamit offers a hilarious millennial perspective on the evangelical Christian movement’s lean into Christian nationalism through the 2000’s. Each chapter opens with humor-tempering, sometimes even heartbreaking, testimony from his contemporaries growing up in an evangelical subculture at war with the world at large. From Confederacy fetishization and masculinity cults to evangelical science classes and purity culture, Aksamit affords us an on-the-ground glimpse into the evangelical bubble as the movement was making an historic turn towards a radical politics.

Testimony: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Failed a Generation (3)

by Jon Ward (Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, MI, 2023)

Preparing for War: The Extremist History of White Christian Nationalism — and What Comes Next (3/5)

by Brad Onishi (Broadleaf Books, Minneapolis, MN, 2023)

The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism is Un-American (4)

by Andrew L. Seidel (Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., New York, 2019)

American Crusade: How the Supreme Court is Weaponizing Religious Freedom (4)

by Andrew L. Seidel (Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., New York, 2022)

Heaven on Earth: The Social and Political Agendas of Dominion Theology (5)

by Bruce Barron (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1992)

Barron argues that dominion theology represents a radicalized, advanced phase of evangelical political involvement by those who have been driven to more extreme visions of theocracy by the failure of earlier mobilization efforts to defeat secularization.

Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation (5)

by Kristin Kobes-du Mez (Liveright Publishing Corporation, New York, 2020)

American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (5)

by Chris Hedges (Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York, 2006)

White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America (5)

by Anthea Butler (The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2021)

Nature’s God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic (5)

by Matthew Stewart (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2014)

White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity (5/6)

by Robert P. Jones (Simon & Schuster, New York, 2020)

The founding CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) cites his own family’s religious history as white southerners alongside the extensive data sets on politics and religion maintained by his organization to provide a multi-faceted analysis of the “repressed history of the symbiotic relationship between Christianity and white supremacy.”

The Hidden Roots of White Supremacy and the Path to a Shared American Future (5/6)

by Robert P. Jones (Simon & Schuster, New York, 2023)

The founding CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) traces the history of white supremacy in the Americas from the 1493 Doctrine of Discovery to three contemporary communities in Mississippi, Minnesota, and Oklahoma, thereby reframing America’s origin story to explain how the founders built a “democratic society on a foundation of mass racial violence — and why this paradox survives today in the form of white Christian nationalism.”

The End of White Christian America (6)

by Robert P. Jones (Simon & Schuster, New York, 2016)

The founding CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) draws on “one of the largest troves of survey data on contemporary politics and religion” to show that today’s politics can only be understood in light of the anxieties experienced by white Christians as they confront historic racial, religious , and cultural changes.

Prophets and Patriots: Faith in Democracy across the Political Divide (6)

by Ruth Braunstein (University of California Press, Oakland, 2017)

Braunstein compares two populist political movements of the Obama era, a progressive failth-based community organization and a conservative Tea Party group, as they “put their faith into action.”

The Flag and the Cross: White Christian Nationalism and the Threat to American Democracy (6)

by Philip S. Gorski and Samuel L. Perry (Oxford University Press, New York, 2022)

Providing three hundred years of historical context, and relying on contemporary sources and data collected by the authors, this concise primer on Christian nationalism outlines “what it is, when it emerged, how it works, and where it’s headed.”

Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States (6)

by Andrew L. Whitehead and Samuel L. Perry (Oxford University Press, New York, 2020)

Analyzing large scale quantitative data and fifty in-depth interviews with Americans who endorse or challenge the “privileging of Christianity in… civic life”, the authors seek to understand “who Christian nationalists are, and how Christian nationalism influences their lives” within the contemporary Christian nationalist movement.

Political Visions and Illusions (7)

by David T. Koyzis (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 2003)

The Conspiracy to End America: Five Ways My Old Party is Driving Our Democracy to Autocracy (7)

by Stuart Stevens (Hachette Book Group, Inc., New York, 2023)

Former Republican political strategist outlines five critical elements historically required to steer a democracy into an autocracy, and shows how Trump’s GOP is now using this playbook to “end democracy as we know it.”

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion (8)

by Jonathan Haidt (Pantheon Books, New York, 2012)

The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science — and Reality (8)

by Chris Mooney (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ, 2012)

Did America have a Christian Founding? Separating Modern Myth from Historical Truth (9)

by Mark David Hall (Nelson Books, Nashville, TN, 2019)

The Revivalist Manifesto: How Patriots Can Win the Next Era (9)

by Scott McKay (Post Hill Press, New York/Nashville, 2022

The American Story: The Beginnings (9)

by David and Tim Barton (Wallbuilder Press, Aledo, TX, 2020)

America: A Call to Greatness (9/10)

by John W. Chalafant (America — A Call to Greatness, Inc.,1996)

Mere Christendom (9/10)

by Douglas Wilson (Canon Press, Moscow, ID, 2023)

Invading Babylon: The Seven Mountain Mandate (10)

By Lance Wallnau and Bill Johnson et al (Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., Shippensburg, PA, 2013)

God’s Chaos Code: The Shocking Blueprint that Reveals 5 Keys to the Destiny of Nations (10/11)

By Lance Wallnau (Killer Sheep Media, Inc., Keller, TX, 2020)

God’s Chaos Candidate: Donald J. Trump and the American Unraveling (10/11)

By Lance Wallnau (Killer Sheep Media, Inc., Keller, TX, 2016)

Christian Nationalism: Biblical Guide to Taking Dominion and Discipling Nations (10)

by Andrew Torba and Andrew Isker (Gab AI, Inc., Troutdale, OR, 2022)

Revelation Riddle: Kingdom Age of the Saints and End Times for the New World Order (10)

by Benjamin Thomas (Gloriam Meia, LLC, 2023)

The Case for Christian Nationalism (10)

by Stephen Wolfe (Canon Press, Moscow, ID, 2022)

Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise 2025 (12)

edited by Paul Dans and Steven Groves (The Heritage Foundation, Washington, DC, 2023