“They Fear Diversity”: Rob Reiner on the Danger Presented by Christian Nationalism

Anjali Jain
They're Frightened of Diversity': Rob Reiner on the Threat of Christian Nationalism

Rob Reiner, so to speak, has made a complete circle.
Reiner first made his impression decades ago, prior to The Princess Bride and A Few Good Men, as Michael “Meathead” Stivic, the liberal son-in-law of the bigoted, conservative Archie Bunker, on All in the Family, one of the most popular television programs of the 1970s. Stivic defended liberal values week after week despite Bunker’s jingoistic and bigoted nationalism. Although conservatives despised him, he was one of the few progressive voices of conscience on national television.
Now, fifty years later, Reiner has collaborated on the production of the new documentary God and Country, which can be likened to an extended discourse with Archie’s descendants: the Christian nationalists who were instrumental in the January 6 uprising, constitute the most devoted supporters of Donald Trump, and render Bunker’s racist patriotism seemingly archaic.

“Archie Bunker was a patriot and a conservative, but he was also a racist,” Rolling Stone journalist Reiner explains. “At present, we are witnessing the weaponization of prejudice itself… Christian nationalists are amenable to the notion that the United States ought to be a Christian nation dominated by white people. They are apprehensive of the diversity-related developments occurring in this country. We are, however, a pluralistic society. “Unum pluribus.”
As per the book The Power Worshippers by Katherine Stewart and directed by Dan Portland, God and Country argues that Christian nationalism has always existed in the United States, but assumed its current form in the 1950s, following the Brown v. Board of Education case and the desegregation of public schools. Right-wing, white Christians began to recognize that their nation was undergoing change at that time. In reaction to the Brown v. Board of Education case, they established a network of religious institutions known as “segregation academies”—institutions that, at least temporarily, retained the authority to reject non-white pupils.
However, how precisely does the maintenance of segregation pertain to Christianity? When did Jesus instruct against the mixing of races?
Christian nationalism is, as numerous clergy and religious academics in God and Country demonstrate, more of a political movement dressed in religious attire than anything grounded in the Bible or Christian theology.
Stewart stated, “Leaders of the movement frequently assert that this is a theological and religious dispute, but this is not merely a dispute over theology or the culture wars.” “A political war is underway.”
According to “God and Country,” the conflict in question commenced in earnest during the 1970s, when “segregation academies” came under attack. At the outset, movement leaders exhibited a broad range of concerns, including opposition to feminism and the protection of “religious liberty” (i.e., the freedom to discriminate against African Americans), among others. However, one controversy arose: abortion.
According to numerous popular histories, the modern Christian right arose as a result of the reaction to Roe v. Wade. However, God and Country demonstrates that Christian conservatives initially paid little attention to it.
“The Christian nationalist movement started in the 1950s,” Reiner asserts. However, by the 1970s, segregation support had transformed into “an ugly, galvanizing issue.” Consequently, they abandoned that and revitalized the movement with the Roe v. Wade decision. However, Christian nationalism revolves around the white species at its foundation.
After losing the conflict for nearly four decades, the Christian nationalist movement managed to secure a few victories. Undoubtedly, Ronald Reagan initiated a period characterized by a resurgence of cultural conservatism. However, Roe remained in effect, America continued to become more diverse, and many Christian nationalists perceived that the country was literally spiraling into damnation in light of LGBTQ equality and same-sex marriage.
Welcoming Donald Trump.

Trump, as Reiner explained, appears to be an improbable savior to a religious conservative populace at first glance. According to an interview with a pastor for God and Country, he was once regarded as the embodiment of the seven deadly sins. “Upon witnessing the rise of Trump and the movement that supported this corrupt, failed pathological liar,” says Reiner, “I became extremely curious as to why this was occurring.” Why did they select this individual? It is acknowledged that historically, evangelical Christians have been significant Republican Party supporters. However, why would one elect Donald Trump as opposed to Jeb Bush, an authentic evangelical?
In the film, Reiner and several experts assert that power is the solution. As it turned out, Trump was appropriately perceived as the “tough guy” capable of accomplishing what “nice guys” were unable to. Following an early 2016 meeting with Trump, one Christian-right leader remarked, “This individual is the one who will succeed.”
The endorsement of Trump by Christian nationalism served as evidence to several religious leaders profiled in the documentary that the movement had never been firmly rooted in Christianity, but rather in a specific form of nativist ethnopolitics. But among devout Christian nationalists, Trump emerged as the one selected by God to guide the United States in the correct direction. In fact, the numerous personal shortcomings of Trump were interpreted as evidence that this was indeed the work of a divine hand. And indeed, Trump delivered: the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the appointment of conservative Christian justices to fill the federal bench (selected by one of their own, in that manner), and confirmation of the worldview that America has lost its former grandeur and must strive to regain it.

Theologically speaking, therefore, it was unthinkable for Trump to lose the 2020 election. A movement scholar and Christian nationalist Jonathan Seidel poses the question in the film, “How the election could not have been stolen?”
Consequently, according to Stewart, “Christian nationalism was an inescapable part of the attempted coup, and it remains a cornerstone of the MAGA movement and Trumpism.” While not all attendees at the capitol on January 6 adhered to Christian nationalism, an examination of the videos reveals an abundance of Christian flags, Jesus 2020 signs, and religious symbols such as crosses and shofars.
Possibly the most unsettling aspect of God and Country is the possibility that the situation could deteriorate further, even in the event that Joe Biden prevails in the upcoming election. Christian nationalists erroneously believe that the majority of Americans support them and view the United States as a Christian nation. Indeed, almost three-quarters of Americans support same-sex marriage, while nearly two-thirds support the right to obtain an abortion.
Furthermore, Christianity as a whole is white. Eighty percent of white evangelicals (representing a quarter of the U.S. population) voted for Trump, according to exit polls. Black Christians cast ninety percent of their votes in favor of Biden. Furthermore, the once-dominant white Christian demographic is declining consistently; this is one reason why many Christian nationalists have openly opposed democracy. The choice between democracy and the sacrosanct, divinely ordained mission of America is unmistakable for Christian nationalists.
They are armed, have their own media and cultural universes, believe they are fighting for their own salvation as well as the essence of America, and will not simply dissipate if Biden wins in November. Despite constituting a minority, this group is highly organized, incensed, and progressively poses a risk to the American experiment.
“Can we preserve 249 years of self-rule created by the Founding Fathers, or will we slip into a theocratic autocracy?” inquires Reiner. “Autocracy and theocracy are on the rise throughout the world; Donald Trump is the conduit through which this occurs in the United States.” “This movement has the potential to obliterate all that we have labored for.”

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Hello, I'm Anjali Jain, a passionate writer navigating the dynamic realms of entertainment, politics, and technology. My blog serves as a digital canvas where I explore the intricate threads that weave together these diverse spheres, offering readers a comprehensive and engaging perspective. Entertainment Aficionado: As an avid consumer of all things entertainment, I delve into the worlds of movies, television, music, and more. Through my blog, I share insightful analyses, reviews, and behind-the-scenes glimpses into the ever-evolving landscape of pop culture. Political Explorer: I'm not one to shy away from the complexities of the political arena. From local issues to global affairs, my writings aim to unravel the intricacies of political events, fostering meaningful conversations about the societal impact of policy decisions. Tech Enthusiast: With an insatiable curiosity for technology, I keep my readers abreast of the latest innovations and trends in the tech world. My articles break down complex concepts, making technology accessible and exploring its profound influence on our daily lives. Narrative Architect: Through my writing, I craft narratives that bridge the gap between entertainment, politics, and technology. Each blog post is a journey, offering readers a thought-provoking exploration of the forces shaping our world. Join me in unraveling the stories that define our culture. Connect with me on Facebook, Instagram and X for real-time updates, discussions, and a shared passion for the fascinating intersection of entertainment, politics, and tech.
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