The relentless focus on White Christian nationalism is spreading a racist myth

It’s been called an “imposter Christianity,” a heretical faith that “sanctifies lies,” and “the most serious threat” to democracy in America.

That’s how critics have described White Christian nationalism, a deviant strain of religion that has infected the political mainstream. White Christian nationalists believe the US was founded as a Christian nation, although the Constitution never mentions God and enshrines the separation of church and state. Its adherents twist biblical language to justify violence, sexism and hostility toward people of color.

But there is another cost to the spread of White Christian nationalism that no one mentions.

The relentless coverage of White Christian nationalism is spreading a racist myth: that Whiteness is the default setting for evangelical Christianity.

This is one of the unintended consequences of the media and public’s fascination with the subject. Feeding this perception is an avalanche of books, articles and now a Hollywood film on the beliefs of White evangelical Christians — the biggest followers of Christian nationalism. In a February 2023 survey, nearly two-thirds of White evangelical Protestants qualified as sympathizers or adherents to Christian nationalism.

The constant linking of Whiteness with evangelical Christianity, though, obscures another major story. There are millions of Black, Latino, African and Asian evangelical Christians who are already profoundly changing America. They represent what one scholar calls the “de-Europeanization of American Christianity.”