The Seven Deadly Sins of White Christian Nationalism: A Call to Action
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About the Author
What's most impressive about this book is Carter Heyward's ability to document and expose--without mincing words--White Christian nationalism as our country's true original sin. Heyward never shouts in this lucid and timely book.
Carter Heyward sounds the alarm. Seven deadly sins are leading us down the road to "Christofascism," the dangerous merging of right-wing Christianity and autocracy. But fear not, those who have been brutalized by narrow, individualistic views of sin. These seven deadly sins are those of white supremacy, misogyny or the lust for omnipotence and the like and they are set in their true context. But Heyward does not leave you with just the theological diagnosis. The latter part of the book gives the tools we need to help stop it. An absolute tour de force!
Progressive theologian Carter Heyward is as fearless as she is brilliant in naming how our body politic is in political, moral, and spiritual crisis. May her sound advice be heeded before it's too late.
American feminist theologian and Episcopal priest Carter Heywood is one of 11 women whose ordination led to allowing women into the priesthood in the Episcopal Church in 1976. Here she analyzes the current political divide and accompanying violence in the US, arguing that both are grounded in the founding of the US as a presumed "white, Christian nation" controlled by wealthy white men. Heywood traces the paths by which this assumption continues to inform politics, economics, social structures, and values. She views this influence as a threat to American democracy and a challenge to an alternative vision of the US as an inclusive, diverse society that supports "liberty and justice for all." She lists seven sins that make white Christian nationalism so destructive and deems the most dangerous to be the presumption of omnipotence--the desire to have total power and control, leading to replacing democracy with theocracy (a dictatorship claiming to be ordained by a white God). The result is a politics of domination: men over women, whites over Blacks and BIPOC, humans over nature and nonhuman animals. She calls for action grounded in humility; in respect for all persons, the natural world, and animals; and loving nonviolence. Highly recommended.
Writing as a politically progressive white Christian American woman and a lesbian feminist theologian, author and Episcopal priest Heyward defines her audience for this book as being white Protestant Christians who are moderate to progressive in their politics and spirituality. To them she offers her take on what she calls the seven deadly sins of white Christian nationalism ("a movement spawned by white Christian Americans [men] to superimpose their conservative religious values on the leaders and laws of the United States of America"): the lust for omnipotence; entitlement; white supremacy; misogyny; capitalist spirituality; domination of the earth and its creatures; and violence. Readers will decide for themselves which sins are the most grievous, and will be helped by the book's third part, intended to encourage Christians to think about what they can do. Chapter-ending discussion questions may provoke heated debate, since the author is a resolute liberal and provocateur--which makes this book an unqualifiedly exciting read.
Carter Heyward's books are all works of consequence. But this one stands out as the harvest of a lifetime of wisdom. There is extraordinary historical depth (the sins of white Christian nationalism go way back) that is matched to corresponding breadth (the full range of our corporate lives) and a probing exposition of biblical and Christian faith. Not least, she offers action-focused responses to each deadly sin. I'm already making a list of those I will give this book as an urgent read.
A big thank-you to Carter Heyward, for this brave and incisive illumination of the historical roots and moral "sins" of contemporary Christian nationalism.