Christmas is a time to focus on Jesus’ birth. It is a time for hope, peace, joy and love. Recently, however, I remembered Christmases past tainted by Christian nationalism.

For years, my extended family gathered and celebrated on Christmas Eve. I would leave work early, pick up my daughter and dash off to the 5 p.m. service at the church my great-great grandfather helped build after immigrating from Sweden in 1892. From there, we would go to the Christmas Eve celebration for Swedish meatballs, eggnog, gifts and cheer. 

Shortly after Tom (not his real name) arrived, the mood shifted as he warned that this would be our last Christmas because the world as we knew it would end soon. 

We heard the same warnings about the New World Order and other conspiracy theories on countless Christmas Eve gatherings. It sucked the merriment from the occasion and took the focus away from “the reason for the season.”

Soon after Tom retired, he started listening to short-wave radio broadcasts and became consumed with Christian nationalism. “Our country was founded on Christianity,” he said. Ironically, he would not go to church because “organized religion was corrupt,” as were the government and the media. 

Tom constantly warned that the government was going to come after our guns. He made hidden compartments in his house where he hid them.

Guns, according to Tom, would be necessary for the takeover of the government by self-made militias and to protect ourselves in the aftermath of an economic collapse, food shortages and the loss of work. It would be necessary to become survivalists and hide in bunkers with food, water and stockpiles of supplies. 

Since paper money would no longer have value, we would need to invest in gold and silver. A bartering system to trade for necessities would also be necessary. 

After Tom died shortly before Christmas one year, family members discovered a bunker in the backyard that had partially collapsed. Metal tubes were filled with rotten, wet rice buried in the ground.

Some may think Tom was crazy, but he was highly intelligent, humble and a loving family member. 

Like Tom, many self-professed Christians, including well-known pastors and politicians, have become indoctrinated by Christian nationalism. 

Now we are closer to what the Christian nationalists have been warning for years—an end to the world as we knew it—as they demonstrated during the January 6 insurrection. 

Christian nationalism is nothing more than a political movement that uses Christianity as a façade to further its agenda. It distorts the truth, rewrites history and misleads others by spreading conspiracy theories to instill fear, unrest, hatred and despair. 

Christian nationalism does not portray the God of hope, peace, joy and love we celebrate during Christmas. 

However, Christian nationalists have proclaimed that God has sent an unbeliever, a man with narcissistic traits, to restore this country to a Christian nation and make it great again. According to the Christian faith, God has already sent us a savior named Jesus. It is his example we should follow. 

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