Baptizing America - Word&Way

Baptizing America

Christian Nationalism seems to be everywhere in our public life. House Speaker Mike Johnson uses bad history and fake quotes to claim the U.S. is “a Christian nation.” Allies of Donald Trump are planning ways to codify Christian Nationalistic policies if he wins in November. State lawmakers across the country are pushing bills to bring more religion into public schools. The chief justice in Alabama invoked God while declaring in a ruling that fertilized frozen embryos are people.

This ideology is even showing up on the big screen, with the God & Country film hitting theaters earlier this month. And it’s a concept sparking more scrutiny from scholars and journalists. Despite all this attention, there’s still a critical piece missing from the conversation: the role of mainline Protestants in giving rise to Christian Nationalism.

To fill this gap, we wrote Baptizing America: How Mainline Protestants Helped Build Christian Nationalism. And we want the readers of A Public Witness to be the first to know our new book is now available for pre-order!

While the Christian Nationalism advanced by conservative evangelicals and Pentecostals has rightly received a lot of attention since the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, this phenomenon isn’t merely a heresy of Trumpian Christians. In many ways, today’s evangelical and Pentecostal proponents of Christian Nationalism are just teaching and legislating what they learned from mainline Protestants.

While many Christians in the mainline denominations are doing great work today challenging Christian Nationalism, they haven’t reckoned with their tradition’s past support for the ideology or the ways it continues to infect their churches today. We hope our book will change the conversation and spark more efforts to separate the chaff of Christian Nationalism from the wheat of the gospel.

You can help make that possible by pre-ordering the book. Although it won’t come out until early summer, strong pre-orders will convince bookstores to stock the title and help others discover this important book. The other good thing about pre-ordering is there’s no need to worry about forgetting to buy it later; mark it off your list now and it will just show up in your mailbox!

You don’t have to take our word that Baptizing America is worth ordering and reading. It comes with a beautiful foreword by Rev. Adriene Thorne, senior minister at The Riverside Church in New York City (perhaps the most prominent mainline congregation in the United States). And the book’s been endorsed by some other incredibly smart and faithful people. Here’s a taste of what some of them are saying:

  • “Anyone interested in confronting and opposing Christian Nationalism must read this book.” —Dr. Andrew Whitehead, Associate Professor of Sociology at Indiana University-Indianapolis and author of American Idolatry: How Christian Nationalism Betrays the Gospel and Threatens the Church.
  • “I have come to count on Kaylor and Underwood for their thorough and detailed historical context to understand how Christian Nationalism is spreading in harmful ways today. Their new book adds an important and provocative angle for Christians from the mainline Protestant denominations to examine their own complicity with perpetuating Christian Nationalism and White supremacy.” —Amanda Tyler, executive director of Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, lead organizer of Christians Against Christian Nationalism, and author of the forthcoming How to End Christian Nationalism.
  • “With deep historical research and trenchant analysis, Brian Kaylor and Beau Underwood have produced a jeremiad that expands the net of complicity for Christian Nationalism beyond the usual suspects.” —Dr. Randall Balmer, John Phillips Professor in Religion at Dartmouth College, Episcopal priest, and author of Saving Faith: How American Christianity Can Reclaim Its Prophetic Voice.
  • “Kaylor and Underwood’s Baptizing America is an essential contribution to the growing body of work on Christian Nationalism in the United States.” —Dr. Bradley Onishi, Research Associate at the UC Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion, co-host of Straight White American Jesus podcast, and author of Preparing for War: The Extremist History of White Christian Nationalism—And What Comes Next.
  • “This is a book that sharpens to a very fine edge the argument about the relationship between Christianity and public life in America.” — Dr. David P. Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University, Chair of Christian Social Ethics at Vrije Universiteit (“Free University”) Amsterdam/IBTS, and author of Defending Democracy From Its Christian Enemies.

So we hope you’ll pre-order Baptizing America and be among the first to receive a copy once it’s officially released. You can order it now almost anywhere you buy books online, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million. You can also buy it directly from Chalice Press, which is offering readers of A Public Witness 33% off the cover price when you use the promo code “BaptizingW&W.”

As Jim Wallis put it, “[Baptizing America] shows how all of White Christianity, including mainline Protestants, has fallen victim to American nationalism. But it also suggests how mainline Protestants could help us find a better way, not just by blaming others, but leading by example.”

That’s why we wrote this book. We hope it will help you — and so many others — better understand and respond to the heresy of Christian Nationalism.

As a public witness,

Brian Kaylor & Beau Underwood

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