Seeking a Faithful Framework for Examining Christian Nationalism and the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners

Photo by Brad Dodson


Waves collapse into the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan while a tangerine sunset splashes across the western sky. Silhouettes crisscross the shoreline: kids running circles around sandcastles, a family savoring a picnic near the sand dunes, an elderly couple walking in the damp sand, teenagers jumping from a MasterCraft anchored offshore. This is Ottawa County, Michigan, wrapped in the beauty of a Mitten State summer evening. But seven miles east of the joyful shoreline is the Ottawa County Administration building where the tense atmosphere of the assembled citizens and County Commissioners contrasts with the tranquility of the surrounding area.

County board meetings were once sparsely attended events, but all this changed in 2023 with the election of eight new county commissioners who were endorsed by a local group called Ottawa Impact (OI). The mission of the group is to “preserve and protect the individual rights of the people in Ottawa County.”[1] The founding of OI can be traced to the fall of 2020, when, following a wave of Covid-19 mandates and closings, a group of concerned parents met with the goal “to replace the county commissioners who refused to protect individual freedoms and parental rights in the face of harsh pandemic restrictions.”[2] These community members rallied around the group’s founders—businessman-now-county-chairperson Joe Moss and Sylvia Rhodea, cofounder and mother-now-county-vice-chairperson—who were frustrated by the longstanding Republican commissioners who were “infiltrated with progressive ideology.”[3] Parents claimed these commissioners were sacrificing the freedoms of the people of Ottawa County, which according to OI, is a conservative stronghold.

During the 2022 election cycle, OI focused on endorsing candidates for school boards and county commissioner seats. Prior to endorsement, candidates were vetted with the group’s “Pro America Vision Statement For Vetting Local Candidates” and required to sign the “Contract with Ottawa,” a pledge of accountability to the people who elected them. Their campaign was a striking success: eight of the nine OI-endorsed candidates won their races in the August 2022 primaries while November’s general election resulted in further victory with candidates winning eight out of the eleven seats on the board including ousting the traditional “pushover” Republican incumbents.

Under the leadership of the new County Board of Commissioners, the once sleepy board room has been embroiled in controversy. On January 3, 2023, the first meeting was held under this new leadership in which the commissioners rapidly pursued and implemented their agenda. They fired the county administrator and legal counsel (and replaced them with conservative alternatives), closed down the county’s diversity, equity, and inclusion office, changed the county motto from “Where You Belong” to “Where Freedom Rings,” and attempted to select a new candidate for the position of health officer rather than the candidate whom the previous board had selected.

Since the initial whirlwind decisions of the first meeting, the boardroom has been fraught with conflict including the filing of complaints, public censorship of one commissioner, and a petition to recall another commissioner. Meetings have been lengthened by a tumult of public comment where residents have expressed either support or outrage for the newly elected commissioners. Concern has been expressed over lack of accountability, transparency, and representation. In March 2023, Ottawa County residents led by the former chair of the Michigan Democratic Party submitted a civil lawsuit alleging that the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners violated the Open Meetings Act by acting as a de facto public body and making private decisions before being sworn in to office.[4] The complaint, which was dismissed and then appealed, also notes that the commissioners added items to the meeting that were not on the initial agenda, preventing public comment. But public comment has been mixed. Citizens have expressed approval for “common-sense” decisions and “righteous” policies, applause for elected officials who “follow through on their promises,” and gratitude for the board’s decision to change the meeting time to encourage attendance and input from residents who work during the day.[5]

The county, known more for its charming beachside towns and annual events like the Tulip Time and Coast Guard festivals than for political turmoil, has garnered national attention for the controversy embroiling the Board of Commissioners. The dominating response of the media—both local outlets like the Holland Sentinel and national outlets including Politico and the Washington Post—swirl around narratives of Christian nationalism. A slew of articles appearing regularly in the Holland Sentinel have labeled OI and the endorsed commissioners as Christian nationalists—a label they reject. Is the Sentinel right? Is Ottawa County being overrun by Christian nationalists? Or is OI just an example of conservative politics at a local level? How does one begin to untangle the threads of faith and political activism in Ottawa County?

This paper seeks to consider to what extent OI is reflective of the Christian nationalist ideology defined by secular research and explores how various Christian figures have responded to the threat of Christian nationalism. The literature suggests that Christian nationalism is an ideology that privileges Christianity in the public sphere through the fusion of Christianity and American citizenship. However, definitional challenges make the term ambiguous in practice. Its application within American politics is complex, as evidenced by the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners. Christian scholars and theologians converge in rejection of Christian nationalism but also differ in their assessment, providing multiple scholarly, Christian lenses to evaluate the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners.

First, this paper will examine the background literature on Christian nationalism and current research challenges to studying Christian nationalism. Then, it will consider why Christian nationalism is a threat not only to American democracy but more specifically, the dangers of politicized religion for the health of Christianity and the legitimacy of the church. Finally, it will offer a case study of Ottawa County through the lens of various Christian scholars and theologians, providing three possible frameworks through which Christians can understand local events in Ottawa County.

Background Literature

Christian nationalism is a term whose usage has exploded within the past two years: in 2021, there were less than 200,000 tweets with Christian nationalism, but in July 2022 alone, there were 289,000 tweets.[6] Despite the prevalence of the term, it remains wrapped in ambiguity in part because it means different things to different people. It is sometimes (wrongly) used synonymously with Christian patriotism or civil religion or tossed about to besmirch conservative Christians who engage their faith in the public sphere. The conflicting and evolving definitions make it difficult for researchers, journalists, and everyday citizens to understand the impact of Christian nationalism and its (possible) threat in American politics. Understanding the body of literature surrounding Christian nationalism, its definition, and accompanying beliefs helps shine clarity into otherwise murky waters.

Defining Christian Nationalism

Sociologists and researchers Dr. Andrew Whitehead and Dr. Samuel Perry are two of the foremost scholars on Christian nationalism whose recently published work on the subject, Taking America Back for God, is widely referenced. They define Christian nationalism as “a cultural framework—a collection of myths, traditions, symbols, narratives, and value systems—that idealizes and advocates the fusion of Christianity with American civic belonging and participation.”[7] Their definition is largely accepted within the literature and used as a reference point by commentators, scholars, and theologians when framing discussions on Christian nationalism. Paul D. Miller, professor at Georgetown University writes, “Christian nationalism is the pursuit of tribal power, not the common good; it is identity politics for the right-wing (and mostly white) Christians; it is the attempt to own and operate the American brand…’ it is an attitude of entitlement among Christians that we have a presumptive right to define what America is.”[8] The Christian nationalist definition of America is linked to Protestant Christianity, not in the formation of a theocracy but in the privileging of Christian faith in the public sphere. Miller explains that Christian nationalists conflate genuine citizenship with a specific Protestant identity. Though there is often an accompanying framework of beliefs, the foundation of Christian nationalism merges religious and civic identity, implying “that to be a good American, one must be Christian.”[9]

American Founding

The Christian nationalist fusion of civic identity with Christianity is based, at least in part, on misperceptions of the American founding. Although the founders were profoundly influenced by Christianity, they did not design a constitutional order only for Chrisitans. They held diverse views and prioritized religious liberty.[10] They explicitly prohibited religious tests for federal offices and were committed to the proposition that all people should be free to worship God (or not) as their consciences dictate.[11] Yet their commitment to religious liberty did not preclude faith from the public sphere. Political science professor Mark David Hall writes, “They agreed that civic authorities could promote and encourage Christianity and that it was appropriate for elected officials to make religious arguments in the public square… they believed…that of ‘all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.’”[12] In his book Did America Have a Christian Founding?, Hall contends that religion plays an important role in American identity because it embodies the transcendental ideals upon which the country was founded. He writes, “Without religion, the ideas that are necessary to the American project are meaningless.”[13] The founders did not seek to establish a Christian theocracy, nor did they reject the role of Christianity in the American experiment; they were distinctly influenced by their faith yet simultaneously celebrated religious plurality.

The founding plays a critical role in Christian nationalist ideology because of the extent to which individuals think America had an explicitly Christian founding. Survey data measuring Christian nationalist views of the founding highlight the importance of a perceived Christian founding. Survey data suggests that particularly among white Christian nationalists, there is an “ideological” approach to history with a “set of conscious (if erroneous) beliefs about America’s past”[14] that inextricably links Christianity with American democracy. This nostalgic vision of a mythical Christian past coupled with rising secularism and declining societal influence of Christianity motivates the Christian nationalists’ desire to achieve power. Christian nationalism “is a minority movement, espousing a claim that might not have seemed terribly controversial a few decades ago: that America is, and should remain, a Christian nation.”[15]

Definitional Challenges

While research has theoretically helped to clarify the definition of Christian nationalism, definitions in practice pose a serious challenge. Christian nationalism is easily—and often—confused with civil religion, Christian patriotism, white evangelicalism, and American exceptionalism. The term is haphazardly tossed about to refer loosely to a variety of ideas, but distinctions between these terms must be made. Civil religion is “benign”[16] and sees “Christianity and democracy as potentially complementary, rather inherently opposed.”[17] It often includes patriotic traditions celebrating American heritage. A healthy civil religion acknowledges “the spiritual reality of the country” and that “America is a nation full of people of faith.”[18] The spiritual reality of America is a diffused faith, not necessarily Christian, but a shared cultural acknowledgement of religious influences invoked for civic purposes.

Christian patriotism differs from civil religion but does not present the inherent problems of Christian nationalism. Patriotism is simply the love of country and “loyalty…to one’s constitution or political regime.”[19] David French, evangelical, legal scholar, and political commentator, further distinguishes Christian patriotism, writing, “To echo C.S. Lewis and George Washington, it’s a love of home and place and neighbor that does its best to fulfill the vision of peace and justice articulated by the prophet Micah so many long years ago—‘Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid.’”[20] Christian nationalism extends beyond civil religion and Christian patriotism by tying citizenship with a particular religious and often ethnic identity that demands allegiance.

While Christian nationalists embrace American exceptionalism, the terms are not interchangeable. American exceptionalism embodies a love of country —like patriotism—but elevates the United States as a distinctly worthy country whose values, political systems, and ideology are morally superior. However, unlike Christian nationalism, American exceptionalism focuses more on the role of the United States in an international political arena as a shining “city on a hill.” While Christian nationalism idealizes the United States, it uses that rationale to focus on domestic issues.

Christian nationalism is also not synonymous with white evangelicalism. While data suggests that white evangelical protestants are more supportive of Christian nationalism than any other group,[21] not all white evangelicals are Christian nationalists and not all Chrisitan nationalists are white evangelicals.[22] Perry and Whitehead write, “Christian nationalism, simply put, is not an exclusively evangelical ideology. It exists independently.”[23] Diagnosing Christian nationalism is a challenge because the threads of what Christian nationalism is and what it isn’t are tangled. Making these distinctions between civil religion, Christian patriotism, white evangelicalism, and American exceptionalism is crucial to fairly evaluating each ideology.

Methods (and Challenges) of Measuring Christian Nationalism

While these clarifications help to tease out definitions of Christian nationalism, the challenge of accurately measuring the prevalence of Christian nationalism persists. Taking America Back For God is the first book to offer a serious academic examination of Christian nationalism. Both qualitative and quantitative data are integral to the research methodology of Christian nationalism. Typical qualitative methods include in-depth interviews and participant observation, while quantitative data are collected from various surveys, the most comprehensive of which include the Baylor Religion Survey, the General Social Survey, the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) Religious Landscape Surveys, and the 2023 PRRI/Brookings Institute Christian Nationalism survey.

Quantitative surveys include various questions or statements, termed indicators, that participants respond to on a scale of strongly agree to strongly disagree. For example, for their book The Flag and the Cross, Perry and Gorski chose seven “indicators” of Christian nationalism to be utilized in their data collection in a nationally representative survey from 2019 through 2021, Perry and Whitehead relied heavily on the six indicators from the 2017 BRS, and the 2023 PRRI Christian nationalism survey presented respondents with five indicator statements. Each indicator expresses some facet of how an individual sees the relationship between Christianity and civic life.[24] There are similarities and often overlap in the statements used between surveys, as indicated below:

  • The U.S. government should declare America a Christian nation (2023 PRRI and 2007-2017 BRS)
  • U.S. laws should be based on Christian values (2023 PRRI. 2007-2017 BRS similarly stated: “The Federal government should advocate Christian values.”)
  • If the U.S. moves away from our Christian foundations, we will not have a country anymore (2023 PRRI)
  • Being Christian is an important part of being truly American (2023 PRRI)
  • God has called Christians to exercise dominion over all areas of American society (2023 PRRI)
  • The federal government should enforce strict separation of church and state (2007-2017 BRS)
  • The federal government should allow the display of religious symbols in public spaces (2007-2017 BRS)
  • The success of the United States is part of God’s plan (2007-2017 BRS)
  • The federal government should allow prayer in public schools (2007-2017 BRS).

Significant differences are seen between survey results. For example, Perry and Whitehead concluded that nearly 52% of Americans are at least sympathetic to Christian nationalism,[25] while results from PRRI suggest that only 29% are at least sympathetic.[26] Both studies utilized similar methods but provided respondents with slightly different indicator statements and resulted in significantly different conclusions.

Despite the comprehensive PRRI survey and the good-faith efforts of Perry and Whitehead to examine Christian nationalism, interpretational challenges have led some commentators to note limitations to relying on such open-ended survey statements.[27] How someone interprets the indicator statement will influence the answer they give, directly affecting their score on the Christian nationalist index. Without a direct interview, it is nearly impossible to gauge to what extent respondents classified as the strongest supporters adhere or differ from the researcher’s accepted definition of Christian nationalists. For example, someone may interpret the statement “America should promote Christian values” as suggesting that the U.S. should promote exclusively Christian values; whereas someone else might see that statement as suggesting that the US should promote values that are not exclusively Christian, but rather good moral values, some of which might align with Christian principles. For this reason, skeptics, including Hall and Miller note the threat of subjectivity in such quantitative surveys.[28]

What Christian Nationalists Believe

Despite limitations and concerns with accuracy, researchers continue to rely on surveys to understand Christian nationalist ideology, which has a constellation of accompanying beliefs. Supporters of Christian nationalism today believe that the United States has a “special relationship with God” and link obedience to scripture with the success of America.[29] Survey results indicate that American exceptionalism runs parallel to Christian nationalism, with 83% of Christian nationalists agreeing with the statement “God intended America to be a new promised land where European Christians could create a society that could be an example to the rest of the world.”

Christian nationalism is also correlated with anti-black racism, anti-immigrant views, anti-semitic views, and anti-Muslim views.[30] These beliefs are motivated by adherence to the Great Replacement Theory and reflect a nativist, tribalist perspective on who constitutes as a real American. Perry and Whitehead explain,

Americans who embrace Christian nationalism, particularly if they are white, remain committed to the belief that real Americans…are native-born, white, Christians…the embrace of Christian nationalism provides the cultural materials used to build walls around American identity…that exclude ethnic or religious outsiders.[31]

This is reflected in the White American Christian nationalists desire to maintain rigid racial boundaries within marriage and adoption.[32] There is a connection between Christian nationalism and the unwillingness to see police injustice against black Americans.[33] Data suggests that the most extreme Christian nationalists are comfortable with using violence to protect their version of a Christian America.[34]

On key issues like travel-bans, abortion rights, and military support, Christian nationalists are in lock-step with Trump. Survey data shows that even after controlling for a variety of relevant factors, including sexism, religion, anti-black and immigrant prejudice, and economic dissatisfaction, Christian nationalist ideology was a “robust predictor” of a vote for Trump.[35] Among Christian nationalists, there is also support for an authoritarian leader.[36] Additionally, Christian nationalists tend to hold traditional views on gender roles, marriage and sexuality, divorce, abortion, same-sex marriage, and transgender rights.[37]

Who Are Christian Nationalists

Despite the pattern of beliefs that accompany Christian nationalism, there is no uniform Christian nationalist. While Christian nationalists exist across every social, economic, and political spectrum, there are distinct demographic trends that correlate with support for Christian nationalism. Republicans are about four times as likely as Democrats to be adherents of Christian nationalism[38] while two-thirds of the strongest supporters of Christian nationalism are conservative.[39] Christian nationalism predicts voting for Trump,[40] and in 2022, seven out of ten Christian nationalist adherents had a favorable view of Trump.[41] However, Christian nationalists are found at both ends of the political spectrum and in the middle: 27% of Ambassadors—the strongest supporters—claim to be politically moderate, and one study suggests 25% of Christian nationalists are Democrats.[42]

PRRI found no significant gender differences in adherence to or rejection of Christian nationalism[43] while Perry and Whitehead found that 70% of the strongest Christian nationalist strongest supporters were women.[44] Multiple studies agree that Christian nationalists tend to be less educated.[45] Support for Christian nationalism increases with age,[46] and the strongest supporters are significantly older, on average, than other groups.[47] Some studies suggest that the strongest supporters are significantly more likely to reside in towns or rural areas than cities, while almost half reside in the South.[48] Other data suggest that “variation in support for Christian nationalism clearly exists across geographic space.”[49]

PRRI reported minimal differences in adherence to Christian nationalism by race, with roughly the same rates of support among black and white Americans, while other studies suggest a different picture, indicating the strongest adherents are 70% white and only 11% black or hispanic.[50] Interestingly, among white Americans, data suggests “almost equal numbers of Ambassadors, Accommodators, Resisters, and Rejects” while among African Americans, Accommodators are the largest group, with “65% of African Americans supportive of Christian nationalism, which is the largest proportion of any racial group.”[51] Multiple studies found that white evangelical protestants are more supportive of Christian nationalism than any other group surveyed.[52] Research found that “Americans who lean toward supporting Christian nationalism are not, as some have theorized, Christian in name only. They are significantly more likely than other Americans to be connected to churches and to say religion is important in their lives.”[53] The strongest adherents to Christian nationalism pray more often, attend church more frequently, hold traditional religious beliefs, and read scripture more than other groups.[54] While there are no uniform Christian nationalists, particular demographics create the perfect storm that prompts increased support for Christian nationalism.

Personal Religiosity and Christian Nationalism

Personal religiosity and Christian nationalism often influence political views in opposing directions. For example, multiple studies found that once Christian nationalism was taken into account, increased religiosity (measured in church attendance) correlated with increased openness to immigrants.[55] Similar trends are seen in other circumstances: while personal religious commitment is positively correlated with Christian nationalism, religiosity seems to influence attitudes toward racial minorities, racial injustice in policing, transracial marriage and adoption, attitudes toward refugees, attitudes toward Muslims, and attitudes toward Jews in the opposite direction as Christian nationalism.[56] Christian nationalism fosters a “distinct moral worldview” that deviates from personal religiosity.[57]

Christian Perspectives on the Problem of Christian Nationalism

Despite the definitional and methodological challenges to understanding the prevalence of Christian nationalism, one thing is clear: Christian nationalism, as defined by Perry, Whitehead, and others, must be rejected by Christians. Ultimately, the politicizing of religion threatens both the church and the state. The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty states that Christian nationalism is the “single biggest threat to religious freedom in the United States today”[58] while Christians Against Christian Nationalism cite it as a threat to religious communities and democracy.[59] In The Religion of American Greatness: What’s Wrong with Christian Nationalism? Miller further underscores the illiberalism of Christian nationalism and its threat to the American experiment. Christian nationalism is not only a threat to American democracy but a threat to true religion. It is an ideology that espouses the belief that salvation can be found through the state. Christian nationalism replaces identity as a follower of Christ, redeemed by grace through faith, with a specific national identity.

In addition to damaging personal faith and spirituality by idolizing country over God, extremist ideologies like Christian nationalism are connected to secular backlash. There is bipartisan consensus on the “God-gap,” between parties. But this did not exist prior to the 1970s, when there was “essentially no connection between ‘voters’ degree of religiosity and partisan leaning.”[60] This is certainly not the case today, with Republicans exhibiting more religiosity across a variety of metrics than Democrats. Increasingly, young people are leaving the church, seeing it a mere extension of partisanship.[61] Additionally, a study found that religious Nones have risen the most in areas with the most activity from far-right organizations.[62] The rising secularization is therefore, at least to some extent, a consequence of co-opting religion for partisan, political purposes. “Religionists and secularists alike need to recognize that the mixture of religion and partisan politics both threatens the state of religious tolerance in America and muffles religion’s potential to be a prophetic voice.”[63]

Christian responses to the problem of Christian nationalism fall across a spectrum from sympathy to enmity. Hall, Miller, Russell Moore, French, and Kristin Du Mez all reject the Christian nationalist ideology defined by Perry and Whitehead but fall into distinct frameworks (sympathizer, resistor, despiser) that inform Christian responses.


Mark David Hall – Political science professor and senior research fellow at the Center for Religion, Culture, and Democracy, Hall is the author of two books articulating the importance of Christianity to the American Founding and the role Christianity has played in the flourishing of the American experiment. Hall rejects Christian nationalism but chastises those who dismiss conservative policies as Christian nationalism. He critiques the literature opposing Christian nationalism, condemning it as “written by polemicists who rely more on rhetoric than arguments, and, if they offer evidence to support their claims, it is often based on unsubstantiated assertions.”[64] He specifically points to Perry and Whitehead, highlighting the flaws in their research methodology that he argues overestimate the prevalence of Christian nationalism. According to the Perry and Whitehead survey, Hall would score 20 points on the Christian nationalist survey, making him an “Ambassador” despite his clear rejection of the ideology.[65] Hall also notes the implicit bias of Perry and Whitehead that are evident in the way they treat conservative Christian issues, specifically abortion, by their inaccurate contention that pro-life Americans are committed to “male authority over women’s bodies.”[66]

Hall rejects the Christian nationalism outlined by its critics and celebrated by its supporters. Instead, he urges for a “better way.”[67] He states, “Christians should be patriotic, and we must bring our faith into the public square to advocate for liberty, justice, and equality for all.[68] In his book Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land, Hall describes how Christians have historically used their faith to be agents for justice, including opposing slavery and Jim Crow and advocating for prison reform. He points to Jeremiah 29:7 which calls Christians to “seek the peace and prosperity of the city.”[69] While Hall rejects Christian nationalism, he sees a tendency from the left to villainize American Christians seeking to engage their faith politically, using Christian nationalism as an extremist term to dismiss their legitimate desires to pursue policy decisions that reflect their faith commitments.

Paul D. Miller – Professor at Georgetown University, author of several books, and former White House staffer, Miller expresses his concern for Christian nationalism in The Religion of American Greatness while encouraging Christian patriotism. He points to historical American Christians who advocated for Christian principles (normal political engagement) rather than power or culture (Christian nationalism).[70] In his book, Miller argues that Christian nationalism is “illiberal” and in opposition to the “American experiment.”[71] He condemns Christian nationalism for using the name of Jesus for a “worldly political agenda.”[72] Miller contends that there is no single, political Christian worldview other than “‘fear God, honor the king’ pay our taxes, love our neighbors, and seek justice.”[73] Miller points out that white, conservative Protestants have become increasingly on the defensive and possess a narrowing view of social reform compared to their forefathers, focusing primarily on issues like abortion and religious liberty.[74] Miller cautions against harnessing Christianity for a political agenda and instead urges a biblical expression of Christian political activity that focuses on loving your neighbor and advancing justice.

In the conclusion of his book, Miller articulates a critical point: sometimes the difference between Christian nationalism and conservative Christianity is subtle and hardly distinguishable from the outside. He writes:

The difference between unhealthy Christian nationalism and healthy Christian political witness is clear in the big picture…But there is a real dilemma: Christians who reject Christian nationalism nonetheless want to see the US government govern justly, wisely, even righteously, because “righteousness exalts a nation…” The difference can be subtle, sometimes a matter of our inner motivation and the orientation of our hearts. We might pursue the same policies—school reform, say, or religious liberty—for republican motives or for nationalist motives.[75]

To guard against Christian nationalism, Miller encourages self-reflection and accountability within a community of diverse Christians. What is shaping our actions? A desire for power? Protection? A fear of change? A focus on the past? Miller’s sympathizer framework insists that Christians abandon the ideology of Christian nationalism but not their pursuit of Christian policies, which may run parallel to Christian nationalist beliefs.


Russell Moore – A theologian and once the leader of the political arm of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), Moore left the SBC in 2021, citing the issues of lack of accountability in addressing sexual abuses as well as the issues of racial reconciliation.[76] From the SBC, Moore went to pastor a church in Tennessee before becoming director of Public Theology at Christianity Today, where, in 2022, he became editor-in-chief. Author of the recently published Losing Our Religion: An Altar Call for Evangelical America, Moore has been outspoken in his indictment of evangelical Christianity and Christian nationalism. Echoing Hall’s understanding of the founding, he affirms America’s pluralistic identity. He declares, “Secular America should expect an evangelical Christianity that understands the pluralistic nature of American society and is not lamenting the loss of a Christian America. In an evangelical understanding of what it means to be a Christian—a new birth—there never was a Christian America.”[77]

            Moore does not reject civic engagement (he acknowledges the need for political organization), but he is acutely aware of the dangers of politicizing religion and using the gospel as a means to an end. He condemns Christian nationalism as “idolatry,”[78] writing:

Our ultimate affection then does not belong to any group, to any nation, to anyone other than ultimately to Jesus Christ. And because we are in Christ and heirs of a new creation, we don’t look backward to some golden age. We don’t look forward to some moment of inevitable progress. We instead know that our harmony and our integrity is found ultimately in Christ, so we are not outraged as though someone is taking something away from us. We cannot be shaken.[79]

Christianity, therefore, ought to ultimately be about following Jesus. Legitimate loves, including a patriotic love of country, ought to be submitted to the kingship of Christ. Moore urges Christians to prioritize the church above the state, the gospel above earthly allegiances. He condemns the tribalist, nativist tendencies of Christian nationalism, reminding Christians that they are “stranger and aliens to every culture”[80] and ought to be conscious of the “multiethnic nature of the church.”[81] Moore rejects Christian nationalism with more urgency than Hall; perhaps his background in the church revealed the imminent dangers of a politicizing religion that supplants gospel truths with political agendas.

David French – Evangelical Christian, conservative commentator, former constitutional lawyer, and columnist for the NYT, French writes on law, politics, and faith. He describes the external threat that conservative Christians feel from the culture as something that has fueled their desire to seek political authority. He writes, “In Christian America, the belief that ‘we’ are good leads to the conviction that the churches will suffer, our nation will suffer and our families will suffer unless ‘we’ run things.”[82] French contrasts this with the gospel message that evil and sin come from within the heart of each person. Like Moore, he points out how the Christian nationalist pattern of thinking co-opts the gospel message for narrow, unbiblical purposes. French contrasts Madison’s famous Federalist 51, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary,”[83] with the pro-Trump and Christian nationalist refrain that “the people” are righteous enough to rule. Rather than having a serious education on Christian political engagement, French suggests many Christians have “a deep set of emotional convictions, and those convictions place the United States in a special, virtuous, godly position in world history,”[84] and therefore, the privileging of Christianity need not be condemned.

Like Hall, French contends that the prevalence of Christian nationalism is overstated and too often confused with Christian patriotism but he also urges caution when embracing patriotism. Pointing to the words of theologian John Piper, French writes:

Though our ultimate identity is found in Christ and not our nationality, Piper also notes that “God means for us to be enmeshed in the world in various ways.” This is the classic, “in, but not of ” formulation of the Christian life. As Piper says, “We are in the world. We are not supposed to be of the world.” But that does not preclude a “special love or affection” for your national home…But as Piper says, “[W]e have got to be very careful about exalting our racial or ethnic or cultural patriotism or at-homeness, our slippers, to the point where we begin to demonize and actually hurt others.[85]

French suggests that because the American cultural slippers fit so well it became easy for white, Protestant Christian Americans to see themselves “as ‘in’ and ‘of ’ the United States of America.”[86] This only reinforces an us versus them mentality. French laments that such division and hostility characterizes our communities. Instead of drawing battle lines, French’s lens urges a more nuanced, less fractious expression of patriotism. He writes, “America isn’t 1619 or 1776. It’s 1619 and 1776.”[87]


Kristin Du Mez – A professor of history and gender studies at Calvin University, Du Mez is the author of Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation. In her book, Du Mez traces the history of White American evangelicals, arguing that their support for Donald Trump was not a choosing the lesser of two evils but a choice that was the fulfillment of their values; values that, Du Mez argues, are centered around militant, patriarchal masculinity, populated through consumeristic and cultural evangelicalism. She writes, “From the start, evangelical masculinity has been both personal and political. In learning how to be Christian men, evangelicals also learned how to think about sex, guns, war, borders, Muslims, immigrants, the military, foreign policy, and the nation itself.”[88] The ideology that Du Mez is describing parallels Christian nationalism. She writes:

For conservative white evangelicals, the “good news” of the Christian gospel has become inextricably linked to a staunch commitment to patriarchal authority, gender difference, and Christian nationalism, and all of these are intertwined with white racial identity. Many Americans who now identify as evangelicals are identifying with this operational theology—one that is Republican in its politics and traditionalist in its values.[89]

Like others, she highlights the amorphous nature of Christian nationalism and expresses the difficulty in teasing out who are just “salt-of-the-earth Americans who love their country and their God” and who pose a threat.[90] However, unlike the sympathizer framework, for Du Mez and other Despisers, refuting Christian nationalism is not “tilting at windmills.” She writes, “The degree to which Christian nationalism poses a threat to American democracy is as of yet not entirely clear, but it depends on the willingness of Christians—including conservative white evangelicals—to denounce extremists, even (especially) extremists who share their vision for social and moral traditionalism.”[91] Faithful to her expertise as a historian, Du Mez sees her speciality more in “tracing the roots” than proposing solutions but she encourages collaboration and focusing on shared commonalities within a local community.

Case Study

Equipped with an understanding of Christian nationalism, the beliefs it espouses, the threat it poses to the church and state, and three Christian frameworks for responding to Christian nationalism, let us now return to the Great Lakes State and the battleground Ottawa County Board of Commissioners. Does OI embody Christian nationalism, as some have claimed? Or are Commissioners and OI supporters “salt-of-the-earth” residents? Acknowledging the danger of Christian nationalism as well as the challenges to distinguishing Christian nationalism from conservative Christian beliefs, this paper will now examine the core beliefs of Ottawa Impact.

Ottawa Impact

Following a careful reading and analysis of the documents available on the website for OI (including acts, resolution, position statements, reports, assessments, and contracts), several principles begin to emerge that clarify the concerns, motivations, and goals of the group:

Parental rights/education – The position statement for OI cites concern with the sexualization of children in local schools, more specifically, with Planned Parenthood’s Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) program.[92] They do not support sex-ed that promotes abortion or LGBTQ+ issues but puport that it is the parents’ responsibility to educate their children as they see fit, citing the Michigan School Code as the basis for their position. An additional fourteen-page document outlines the history of various actors whom they argue are responsible for the progressive indoctrination in Michigan schools.[93] They conclude: “Michigan’s education system and government bureaucracy has been infiltrated by activism, nonprofits, and special interest groups aligned with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, placing the promotion of a divisive racial and sexuality equity agenda ahead of the educational needs of students.”[94] Their concern with DE&I agendas in school curricula parallels their concern over the sexualization of Michigan schools. Hand-in-hand with their dissatisfaction for CSE in schools is their strong pro-life commitment, dovetailed with concern over pro-abortion resources in school curricula.[95]

Also under the banner of parental rights and policy is OI’s concern regarding Covid-19 management, including mask-mandates, testing, and immunization requirements. In 2021, they encouraged current County Commissioners to sign a “Resolution to End Enforcement of Covid-19 Orders and Restore Constitutional Freedoms to Ottawa County,” declaring that “Constitutional freedoms are not suspended in times of crisis.”[96] They note that students were required to undergo “coerced medical procedures in the form of forced COVID-19 testing of student athletes, and quarantine of healthy students without due process.”[97] They declare:

We recognize government will never be perfect as long as imperfect people are involved, and we have no desire to force religion on others through government. However, it is also not constitutional for the radical left to institutionalize and impose their religion of sexuality and secular humanism onto children, parents, and individuals through schools and government. They are not entitled to raise our nation’s children as their own.[98]

Health freedom – The “Resolution to End” expresses, at length, dissatisfaction over the violation of constitutional rights during Covid-19 by Governor Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. They note that her almost 200 executive orders were declared unconstitutional by the Michigan Supreme Court, only to have similar orders issued through other branches of the administration.[99] In the resolution, they note:

“Governor and MDHHS stripped citizens of personal choice and eroded the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens and parents, resulting in undue burden, restrictions, and irreparable harm to citizens, local businesses and employees, loss of student education and socio-emotional development, and increased mental health and suicide risks of the youth of Ottawa County.”[100]

While they appreciate the “seriousness of COVID-19 to citizens in vulnerable demographics,”[101] they insist on policies that protect constitutional rights, freedom of conscience, and economic interests.

            Restoring American exceptionalism – Throughout OI’s various statements and documents, it is clear that they hold to the belief that America is a nation blessed by God. On a local level, they emphasize the beauty and uniqueness of Ottawa County. In their resolution to change the county motto from “Where You Belong” to “Where Freedom Rings,” they state,

“America is an exceptional nation made up of a diverse and beautiful people. America is the land of systemic opportunity, built on the Consti tution, Christianity, and Capitalism—the opportunity that jobs provide for social uplift. We need to return our nation to our roots which made America exceptional, rather than apologize for them.”[102]

Elsewhere, in a document entitled “Freedom is our Default” they envision President Reagan’s “City on a Hill” being built in Ottawa county.[103]

Dismissing DE&I – OI is concerned with a “divisive” DE&I agenda, not only as implicated in the Comprehensive Sexuality education in schools, but also through county wide programing. A 59-page document entitled “Pro-life Protection Assessment: Public Health + DE&I Departments,” reads that, despite being a “consistently Republican county[…]Ottawa County has been strategically targeted by the progressive left on racial and cultural issues for the last decade, with little defense from its Republican County Commissioners.”[104] In 2018, the County Commissioners voted to establish the DE&I department at the urging of local corporations who were “concerned the county’s demographics of being over 90% white and largely Conservative would make it difficult to retain the ‘best and the brightest from other areas of the country and the world,’ as they may feel less welcome.”[105] They argue that “While stating it is merely looking to root out elusive implicit bias from county policies, the Ottawa County DEI Department is giving a foothold to the ideology of the left and membership with progressive GARE [Government Alliance on Race and Equity] through our county bureaucracy.”[106] OI rejects equity as a “core tenet of Critical Race theory” which “leads down the road to socialism” and “jeopardizes liberty.”[107] Instead, they believe in equality, “which provides equal opportunity to all and rewards personal effort.”[108] Their position statement also emphasizes that they value people regardless of ethnicity, sexuality, religion, gender, age, born or unborn.

Truthful journalism – OI emphasizes the need for truthful journalism to counteract the “local fake news media” in West Michigan, which they argue targets conservatives and labels “salt-of-the-earth Americans…as radical extremists.”[109] Holding true to their promise to create an alternative news source, in the spring of 2023, OI officially launched their news media website: Simply American Media. The website describes their mission as “truthful journalism and cultural conversations for everyday Americans in Ottawa County.”[110] The site published an article criticizing the Holland Sentinel and editor Sarah Leach for false, biased, subjective reporting on OI, citing her involvement in Ottawa Objects, a local activists Facebook group whose mission is to “to defeat OI and fascism in Ottawa County government.” The article was written by “Henry,” whose profile is listed alongside ten additional journalists with equally memorable names like Washington, Madison, Publius, Reagan, and Hamilton.

Empowering “The People” – OI prioritizes civic engagement and empowering people to engage with local politics. They write, “Civic engagement, from the ground up, is critical to preserve a healthy, moral society.”[111] They contend that it is the “The People’s” responsibility to hold elected officials accountable. This is reflected in their Contract with Ottawa, which states that candidates contracted with Ottawa are accountable to the people that elect them. Their rhetoric reveals the desire to return government to the people and highlights the role of local politics. “The People took decisive action to defend their piece of America— to protect individual freedoms, parental rights, and freedom of religion and conscience, as outlined in the Contract with Ottawa.”[112] This is epitomized in their position statement, which says their first loyalty is to “The People.”[113]

First Amendment principles – Throughout their various documents and statements runs a deep commitment to constitutional freedoms, specifically First Amendment principles. Their position statement declares, “We reject political correctness and cancel culture, recognizing tyranny reigns in the absence of truth, free thought, and accountability for corruption.”[114]

For OI and their supporters, these principles are interrelated under their umbrella commitment to protect and defend “American Values;” values they argue that have been eroded in Ottawa County under the poor leadership of county officials opting into a progressive left agenda rather than representing the interests of the people of Ottawa County. They emphasize the importance of “values dear to our communities” but it is not made explicitly clear what these values are or who defines community. Their position statement loosely defines “American Values” by describing the importance of preserving religious freedom and America’s Judeo-Christian heritage, promoting the role of parents, protecting the pre-born, supporting the nuclear family, America first, respecting the flag, and teaching true history. Their position statement also addresses other policy areas—law and order, Second Amendment rights, land and environment, fiscal responsibility—but it becomes clear that restoring the above “American values” are prioritized. The frustration with perceived lack of representative leadership at the local level during Covid-19 fueled their vision for “restoring” Ottawa County and electing leadership whose policy decisions reflect the county as a “conservative stronghold.”

Referring to the OI-endorsed commissioners, Roger Bergman, the only Republican incumbent not replaced by an OI candidate, told Politico, “It’s becoming more and more evident that these people are Christian nationalists.”[115] John DeBlaay, member of the local Republican Party’s executive board disagrees, insisting it is not Christian nationalism but just “everyday family people” who “value our faith, our family and our freedom.”[116] The question then remains: to what extent is this Christian nationalism? Using OI as a case study, we will apply the lenses of Christian thinkers to illustrate three distinct responses.

Sympathizers – Mark David Hall and Paul D. Miller

In Ottawa County, Sympathizers would be skeptical of slandering OI as Christian nationalist. They’re skeptical of progressives who use the term to smear OI’s conservative positions on marriage, sexuality, and the sanctity of life. Instead of dismissing OI as Christian nationalist, Sympathizers consider each commissioner and evaluate their motives and actions as individuals. As a group, OI denies the accusation of adhering to Christian nationalism. Their statement parallels the concern of the words of Hall and other Sympathizers:

Many Christians are not bothered by the term Christian nationalism, equating it to loving God + loving and protecting our nation, which is vastly true of those accused of being Christian Nationalists. But the left has applied a harsher definition, which evokes charges of racism, white supremacy, imposition of religious beliefs onto others through government, and other such extreme ideologies. “Christian Nationalism” is simply the latest slight of terms and defamation of convenience to affect the outcome of an election.[117]

Sympathizers would take issue with the Sentinel’s broad claims of Christian nationalism in Ottawa County but would also find problematic those who endorse the ideology. Hall and Miller articulate a “better way”[118] of Christian patriotism that emphasizes liberty, justice, and equality for all—human rights values similarly promoted by OI. OI claims, “We are simply Americans. Americans who love God, our country, and our children” with “no desire to force religion on others through government.”[119] While their policies may privilege Christianity, they explicitly reject the fusion of Christianity with American civic belonging, instead striving for freedom to advocate their personal faith in the political sphere. Rather than “tilting at windmills” of Christian nationalism in Ottawa County, the Sympathizer framework encourages an honest, individual assessment directly addressing the evils and injustices in our communities.

Resistors – Russel Moore and David French

A Resistor framework is less concerned with the left smearing conservative values and more concerned with conservative Christians seeking political authority through Christian nationalism. French writes that the mindset that the left is “out to get” conservative Christians motivates a problematic search for power. He writes, “The mindset sees the Christian use of power as inherently protective, and the desire to censor as an attempt to save children from dangerous ideas.”[120] This is evident in OI’s prioritization of parental rights and their concern with progressive infiltration in public education.

Resistors disagree with OI on the nature of the founding and reject their pursuit of a Christian America. Instead of harking back to OI’s “Christian America” or “silent majority,” Moore suggests an alternative route for conservative Christians: build “collaborative majorities issue by issue.”[121] Moore’s advice is nowhere to be seen in the radical, divisive actions of the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners within their first week. Whereas OI created an us versus them paradigm that resulted in rapid firing and censoring, French reminds Christians that biblical teaching underscores the corruption of every soul. Resistors condemn the demonization of the progressive left by OI: “The People” of OI are not any more righteous than those they oppose. Resistors condemn the tribalist tendencies surrounding the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners that stem from a desire to protect mythical claims of a Christian America.

While OI argues for America First, Resistors explicitly reject such a claim. Moore writes, “Not America first because we are first Christians, part of a broader body of Christ, a theologically, biblical, spiritually rooted foundation.”[122] A Resistor framework warns Christians in Ottawa County of idolizing a national, political ideology and co-opting the transforming gospel of Jesus. Our allegiance is to Christ, not an earthly nation. Our calling is to pursue justice, not magnify division. Resistors do not reject Christian civic engagement so long as it is subservient to the gospel calling. Instead of drawing battle lines and hurling insults in the form of op-eds and public comment at County meetings, a Resistor framework urges a less fractious expression of patriotism that orders an honest eyes-wideopen love of country that falls beneath biblical truths.

Despiser – Kristin Du Mez

Despisers like Du Mez align closely with the conclusions of Perry and Whitehead and prioritize denouncing extremists. As a professor at a university in neighboring Kent County, Du Mez has a close up view of Ottawa County and has commented directly on OI and the County Board of Commissioners. She considers the difficulty in teasing out who are “salt-of-the-earth Americans who love their country and their God” and who pose a threat but has declared that Christian nationalism is certainly “alive and well in Ottawa County” and “that it’s nothing new there.”[123]

She expresses sadness at the events in Ottawa County, lamenting that a county government, once interested in strengthening their community, is caught in a divisive polarized battle. The Despiser framework sees conservative Christianity as a driving factor in political polarization. Du Mez writes:

This God and country faith is championed by those who regularly attend evangelical churches and by those who do not. It creates affinities across denominational, regional, and socioeconomic differences, even as it divides Americans—and American Christians—into those who embrace these values, and those who do not. In this way, conservative white evangelicalism has become a polarizing force in American politics and society.[124]

Du Mez notes that since Trump’s presidency, Christian nationalist rhetoric of embattlement has become more normalized in Christian circles and Christians have been more emboldened to pursue power through the state.[125] Resistors conclude that despite the cultural and political power that white conservative Christians continue to possess in Ottawa County, they divide communities as they seek to militantly restore values perceived as lost or threatened.


Perry and Whitehead would align OI with Christian nationalism. Their position statements echo beliefs that often coexist with Christian nationalist ideology: a rejection of DE&I, embracing ideas of American exceptionalism, and prioritizing religious liberty, rights of conscience, and parental rights. They posit false claims of a Christian founding and proudly proclaim “America First.” More likely than not, OI-endorsed candidates on the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners would score as Accommodators or Ambassadors on Perry and Whitehead’s Christian nationalism scale. But so would thinkers like Hall, French, and Miller, Christian scholars who clearly and articulately reject the Christian nationalism described by Perry and Whitehead. This paper has identified three distinct lenses through which Christians can consider OI and the events of Ottawa County.

Sympathizers acknowledge the illiberalism of Christian nationalism but they caution against using the term to dismiss the political engagement of conservative Christians. They are mindful of the parallels between conservative Christian policies and Christian nationalism, emphasizing the need for individual discernment in Ottawa County. They resist the idea that Christianity translates to a particular political ideology, reminding local residents to be mindful of the motives of their own hearts.

Resistors warn against the dangers of politicized religion, urging Christians to remember their allegiance is not to “America first” but first to the body of Christ which is diverse in the pursuit of truth and the spread of the gospel. Rather than villainizing the progressive left, Resistors harken back to Federalist 51 and caution conservative Christians to remember that every soul is corrupt. They condemn disparaging left-leaning organizations in Ottawa County and resent giving the conservative policies of Ottawa Impact a salvific quality. Resistors encourage collaboration as they pursue civic engagement.

Despisers lament the divisive culture of OI, holding conservative Christians accountable for the political polarization. Rejecting the Christian nationalist narrative that Christians are a threatened minority, they encourage Ottawa County residents to embrace commonalities and a shared local identity.

I resonate with accessing OI through the Resistor framework. Its rejection of Christian nationalism warns Christians in Ottawa County of weaponizing the reconciling gospel to advance a narrow political agenda. Like Resistors, I’m deeply concerned with the dangers of politicizing the church. Research suggests that my generation has walked away from faith in part because of the church’s conflation of genuine Christianity with specific policy goals that do not resonate with the top political concerns of young people.[126] I’m troubled by the struggle of myself and my peers to reconcile a biblical understanding of grace and love with the violent, militaristic, tribalistic actions justified by Christian nationalism. In the context of Ottawa County, I’m also compelled by the sympathizers’ plea to evaluate the motives of each actor rather than dismissing the pursuit of conservative values as “Christian nationalism gripping the nation.” Our faith ought to shape our policy preferences and inform how we conduct ourselves in political conversations as citizens whose allegiance is to an eternal kingdom. It is right and good that we have affection for our country, but our well-ordered patriotism must not devolve into Christian nationalism. We must be careful not to seek salvation through political engagement or replace the gospel of the cross with the gospel of our political worldview. It is saddening when our political affiliations blind us from loving our neighbors and our communities well. Conservative Christians in Ottawa County have the opportunity to reject the divisive, narrow ideology of Christian nationalism when it emerges among their elected officials, and instead seek to embrace a holistic expression of their faith in the public sphere that pursues the peace and justice that Jesus embodied.

Noel Vanderbilt ’25 studies political science and creative writing. She is from Saugatuck, Michigan. She is grateful for Dr. David Ryden’s assistance on this research piece.


[1] Ottawa Impact, “About,” Accessed February 26, 2024,

[2] Ottawa Impact, “Our Story,” Accessed July 27, 2023,, 2.

[3] Ibid, 5.

[4] Scribd, “Judge Dismisses Open Meetings Act Lawsuit | PDF,” Accessed February 26, 2024, https://www.scribd. com/document/659092352/Judge-Dismisses-Open-Meetings-Act-Lawsuit.

[5] January 10, 2023 Ottawa County Board of Commissioners Meeting,

[6] Kristen Du Mez, “Understanding Christian Nationalism,” Substack newsletter, Du Mez CONNECTIONS, October 28, 2022.

[7] Andrew L. Whitehead, Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States, (New York, NY, United States of America: Oxford Univeristy Press, 2020).

[8] Thomas B. Edsall, “The Capitol Insurrection Was As Christian Nationalist As It Gets,” The New York Times, Opinion section, January 28, 2021.

[9] Edsall, “The Capitol Insurrection Was As Christian Nationalist As It Gets.”

[10] Philip S. Gorski, The Flag and the Cross: White Christian Nationalism and the Threat to American Democracy, (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2022), 5.

[11] Hall, “Did America Have a Christian Founding?”

[12] Ibid.

[13] John D. Wilsey, “The Many Faces of Christian Nationalism,” Law and Liberty, September 26, 2022, https://

[14] Gorski, The Flag and the Cross, 24.

[15] Kelefa Sanneh, “How Christian Is Christian Nationalism?” The New Yorker, March 27, 2023, https://newyorker. com/magazine/2023/04/03/how-christian-is-christian-nationalism.

[16] Russel Moore, “Faith, Fiction, and Christian Nationalism,” Plough, June 24, 2023, topics/faith/witness/faith-fiction-and-christian-nationalism.

[17] Edsall, “The Capitol Insurrection Was As Christian Nationalist As It Gets.’”

[18] Yonat Shimron, “A Q & A with Evangelical Writer David French on Christian Nationalism,” Washington Post, February 5, 2021,

[19] Gorski, The Flag and the Cross, 8

[20] David French, “Discerning the Difference Between Christian Nationalism and Christian Patriotism,” in The Dispatch, January 31, 2021,

[21] PPRI, “A Christian Nation? Understanding the Threat of Christian Nationalism to American Democracy and Culture,” February 8, 2023,

[22] Whitehead, Taking America Back for God, 42.

[23] Ibid, 58.

[24] Gorski, The Flag and the Cross, 15.

[25] Whitehead, Taking America Back for God.

[26] PRRI, “A Christian Nation?”

[27] Mark David Hall, “Tilting at Windmills: The ‘Threat’ of Christian Nationalism,” Standing for Freedom Center, February 8, 2022,

[28] Hall, “Tilting at Windmills.”

[29] Whitehead, Taking America Back for God, 36.

[30] PRRI, “A Christian Nation?”

[31] Whitehead, Taking America Back for God, 91.

[32] Ibid, 100.

[33] Ibid, 78.

[34] PRRI, “A Christian Nation?”

[35] Whitehead, Perry, and Baker, “Make America Christian Again.

[36] PRRI, “A Christian Nation?”

[37] Whitehead, Taking America Back for God, 75–76, 132, 136, 139

[38] PRRI, “A Christian Nation?”

[39] Whitehead, Taking America Back for God, 38.

[40] Ibid, 67.

[41] PRRI, “A Christian Nation?”

[42] Whitehead, Taking America Back for God, 38.

[43] PRRI, “A Christian Nation?”

[44] Whitehead, Taking America Back for God, 37.

[45] Ibid, 37.

[46] PRRI, “A Christian Nation?”

[47] Whitehead, Taking America Back for God, 37.

[48] Ibid, 37.

[49] PRRI, “A Christian Nation?”

[50] Whitehead, Taking America Back for God, 37.

[51] Ibid, 41.

[52] Ibid, 37.

[53] PRRI, “A Christian Nation?”

[54] Whitehead, Taking America Back for God, 37

[55] Ibid, 115.

[56] Ibid, 115.

[57] Ibid, 115.

[58] Center for American Progress, “Christian Nationalism Is ‘Single Biggest Threat’ to America’s Religious Freedom,” April 13, 2022,

[59] Christians Against Christian Nationalism, “Christians Against Christian Nationalism Statement,” Accessed July 27, 2023,

[60] Campbell, “The Perils of Politicized Religion.”

[61] Ibid.

[62] Ibid.

[63] Ibid.

[64] Mark David Hall, “Christian Reflections on Christian Nationalism,” (Centennial Institute, February 2023),, 2.

[65] Hall, “Tilting at Windmills.”

[66] Whitehead, Taking America Back for God, 76

[67] Hall, “Christian Reflections on Christian Nationalism,” 5.

[68] Ibid, 8.

[69] “Jer 29:7 NIV, “Also, Seek the Peace and Prosperity of.”

[70] Miller, “What Is Christian Nationalism?”

[71] Paul D. Miller, The Religion of American Greatness: What’s Wrong with Christian Nationalism, (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, an imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2022), 5.

[72] Miller, “What Is Christian Nationalism?”

[73] Ibid, 263.

[74] Miller, The Religion of American Greatness, 198.

[75] Ibid, 263.

[76] Wehner, “The Scandal Rocking the Evangelical World.”

[77] Tyler Ashman, “Engaged Alienation: Dr. Russell Moore on Christianity and American Politics,” (April 10, 2022),

[78] Moore, “Faith, Fiction, and Christian Nationalism.”

[79] Ibid.

[80] Moore, “Can the Religious Right Be Saved?”

[81] Ibid.

[82] David French, “Who Truly Threatens the Church?” The New York Times, Opinion section, July 9, 2023, https://

[83] James Madison, “Federalist Papers No. 51,” (1788).

[84] Shimron, “A Q & A with Evangelical Writer David French on Christian Nationalism.”

[85] French, “Discerning the Difference Between Christian Nationalism and Christian Patriotism.”

[86] Ibid.

[87] French, “Who Truly Threatens the Church?”

[88] Kristin Du Mez, Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation, First edition, (New York, NY: Liveright Publishing Corporation, a division of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2020), 296.

[89] Ibid.

[90] Du Mez, “Understanding Christian Nationalism.”

[91] Ibid.

[92] Ottawa Impact, “Position Statement,” Accessed February 26, 2024,, 6.93 Ottawa Impact, “Sexualization of Michigan Children in Public Schools.”

[93] Ottawa Impact, “Sexualization of Michigan Children in Public Schools,” Accessed February 26, 2024, https://

[94] Ibid, 5.

[95] Ottawa Impact, “Pro-Life Protection Assessment,” Accessed February 26, 2024, download/Ottawa_Impact_Pro_Life_Protection_Assessment.pdf.

[96] Ottawa Impact, “Ottawa Resolution to Restore Freedom – Sign Here,” Accessed February 26, 2024. https://

[97] Ibid.

[98] Simply American Media, “We Are Simply American,” March 8, 2023,

[99] Ottawa Impact, “Ottawa Resolution to Restore Freedom – Sign Here.”

[100] Ibid.

[101] Ibid.

[102] Ottawa Impact, “Resolution to Establish ‘Where Freedom Rings’ As New County Vision Statement,” Accessed February 26, 2024,

[103] Ottawa Impact, “Freedom Is Our Default,” Accessed February 26, 2024, Ottawa_Impact_Freedom_is_Our_Default.pdf

[104] Ottawa Impact, “Pro-Life Protection Assessment.”

[105] Ibid.

[106] Ibid.

[107] Ottawa Impact, “Freedom of Conscience,” Accessed February 26, 2024, Ottawa_Impact_Freedom_of_Conscience.pdf, 5.

[108] Ottawa Impact, “Freedom of Conscience.”

[109] Ottawa Impact, “Our Story.”

[110] Simply American, “Home,” Accessed February 26, 2024,

[111] Ottawa Impact, “Freedom Is Our Default.

[112] Ottawa Impact, “Ottawa Resolution to Restore Freedom – Sign Here,” 1.

[113] Ottawa Impact, “Position Statement,” 2.

[114] Ibid.

[115] Siders, “What It Looks Like When the Far Right Takes Control of Local Government,” POLITICO, February 21, 2023,

[116] Ibid.

[117] Hall, “Christian Reflections on Christian Nationalism,” 2.

[118] Ibid, 5.

[119] Simply American Media, “We Are Simply American.”

[120] French, “Who Truly Threatens the Church?”

[121] Moore, “Can the Religious Right Be Saved?”

[122] Moore, “Can the Religious Right Be Saved?”

[123] Du Mez, “Christian Nationalism in the Neighborhood,” Substack newsletter, Du Mez CONNECTIONS, January 29, 2023,

[124] Du Mez, Jesus and John Wayne, 7.

[125] Du Mez, “Understanding Christian Nationalism.

[126] Mitchell, “On the Cusp of Adulthood and Facing an Uncertain Future,” Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project, May 14, 2020,

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