Old-school Christian nationalism’s avatar of racism, antisemitism and conspiracies

by | Mar 7, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — The Rev. Gerald L.K. Smith loved Jesus so much he built a seven-story statue on the top of an Ozark mountain to honor his savior.Smith loved America, too, but despised many of his fellow Americans. Especially those who were Black, Jewish or immigrants.
An ordained Disciples of Christ pastor, master showman, skilled fundraiser, prolific writer and “minister of hate,” Smith spent decades warning white Christians that they were in danger of losing their country to devious forces conspiring against them.
To combat those forces, Smith founded a political party, ran for U.S. Senate and churned out tens of thousands of copies of The Cross and the Flag, a monthly magazine dedicated to the cause of Christian nationalism.
For Smith, that work was defined not by Jesus or the Constitution. His main concern was preserving Christian power and what he called “traditional Americanism.”
“The first principle for which we stand is: Preserve America as a Christian Nation being conscious of the fact that there is a highly organized campaign to substitute Jewish tradition for Christian tradition,” he wrote in “This Is Christian Nationalism,” which outlined the 10 pillars of his movement.
Among the other pillars of Christian nationalism: outlawing communism, destroying the “bureaucratic fascism” of income tax and the Supreme Court, and preserving racial segregation forever.

Smith aimed to take the latent prejudices and anxieties of American society and fan them into flames, wrote the late Glen Jeansonne, a longtime University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee history professor and Smith’s bio …

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