The Interfaith Caucus of North Carolina Democrats held a “Faith and Democracy” event in Charlotte, North Carolina, last week. Good Faith Media was invited to provide coverage for the event, with numerous local and national leaders discussing the importance of political engagement and the dangers of Christian nationalism.

Chairman of the Caucus, Rev. Paul McAlister, told GFM: “Faith and democracy affect all of us. This conversation is intended to deal with a whole corpus of ideas to help us reckon with in a responsible way how we treat each other, how we practice our faith, how we live together, and how we elect those that govern us.”

The conference was held at Watershed Church in Charlotte. There were 100-140 participants, with another 50 joining virtually. While conveners hoped for a better turnout, the discussion remained lively and poignant.  

Leaders, speakers and participants agreed that 2024 is a pivotal year for faith and democracy.  With the rise and popularity of authoritarian theology and politics, communities concerned about the survival of democracy need to communicate and collaborate.

Helms Jarrell, Organizing Pastor of Beloved Community Church and Co-Director of QC Family Tree, both in Charlotte, told the crowd, “Embodying the common good can compel people” to have a change of heart and mind.  

Conference participants hope Jarrell is correct.  Not since the rise of fascism in Europe and America before World War II has democracy faced such a terrifying threat.

Katherine Stewart, author of “The Power of Worshipers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism,” warned participants, “Christian nationalism creates a false narrative to promote authoritarian policies. (It) is radically antidemocratic.”

Stewart also noted, “Religious nationalists use religion to divide their country so they can consolidate their power.”  The conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation recently released its “Project 2025” goals, which are exactly what Stewart warns against.

Project 2025 clearly states its objective: “Our goal is to assemble an army of aligned, vetted, trained, and prepared conservatives to go to work on Day One to deconstruct the Administrative State.”  

If the Republican presidential candidate is elected this year, Project 2025 recommends firing thousands of federal employees who have served across numerous conservative and progressive administrations.  Most of these employees have served our government regardless of political ideology and what party controls the federal government at the time.  

Ideological loyalists and those willing to follow the movement’s leadership would replace those patriotic employees. In other words, all federal employees must be loyal to Trump and Trumpism, not the Constitution, if the former president wins the election.  

After this week’s Iowa Republican caucuses, exit polls revealed that two-thirds of evangelicals support Donald Trump and his policies.

Project 2025 intends to achieve the goal of consolidating power by using four pillars:

“Pillar I – this volume (Project 2025) – puts in one place a consensus view of how major federal agencies must be governed and where disagreement exists brackets out these differences for the next President to choose a path. 

Pillar II is a personnel database that allows candidates to build their own professional profiles; coalition members can then review and voice their recommendations. These recommendations will then be collated and shared with the President-elect’s team, greatly streamlining the appointment process. 

Pillar III is the Presidential Administration Academy, an online educational system taught by experts from our coalition. For the newcomer, this will explain how the government functions and how to function in government. For the experienced, we will host in-person seminars with advanced training and set the bar for what is expected of senior leadership. 

In Pillar IV – the Playbook – we are forming agency teams and drafting transition plans to move out upon the President’s utterance of ‘so help me God.’”

Dr. Obery Hendricks, author of “Christians Against Christianity: How Right-Wing Evangelicals Are Destroying Our Nation and Our Faith,” described these individuals and policies as Christofascism.  

The term Christofascism is gaining momentum in the United States. Christofascism describes a far-right-wing political ideology where fascism and Christianity intersect.  Moreover, Christofascism attempts to consolidate society under the rule of Jesus Christ as determined by the movement’s leaders.  

In other words, Christofascists advocate for their specific practice of Christianity (which they claim is the only way to interpret and apply Scripture) to rule over individual and communal life. In most cases, this practice is a literal interpretation and rigid application of the biblical texts (and, in some cases, a direct misinterpretation and misapplication of the texts).

The conveners, leaders, and participants at the Interfaith Caucus of North Carolina believe a counter to these movements must quickly emerge if democracy is to be saved.

Anne Nelson, author of “Shadow Network: Media, Money and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right,” believes one of the most effective ways to counter these movements is to engage in productive dialogue.

Nelson remarked: “The ‘othering’ of our country is killing us.” In an on-camera interview following her presentation, she told Good Faith Media how powerful and wealthy organizations use division to further their agendas. She believes the best strategy to counter this division is “to educate people on religious liberty, church/state separation and democracy.”

Good Faith Media remains a nonpartisan organization providing reflection and resources at the intersection of faith and culture through an inclusive Christian lens. Therefore, when movements oppose an inclusive gospel and a democracy that protects that inclusiveness, a clarion call needs to be sounded.

We must rally and collaborate to counter movements like religious nationalism, Christian nationalism and Christofascism.  

The time for people of good faith to stand up, speak out and step forward is now!  

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