They are whispering in Donald Trump's ear to prepare for his possible second term as president of the United States, says the Politico site in a recent article.

And it is also their ideology which prompted the Supreme Court of Alabama to decide that an embryo was already “a child” to be protected, the Anglo-Saxon media have repeated since this very controversial judgment rendered on February 16.

Christian nationalists have become a “biblical threat” to American democracy, says Max Burn, a Democratic electoral strategist in an opinion article published on Saturday February 24 by the American political information site The Hill. 

A group of fundamentalists with vague contours

That's also what Rob Reiner, the director of hit films like "Princess Bride" and "When Harry Met Sally," thinks.

Released on February 16, his latest documentary, "God & Country", focuses on the rise of Christian nationalists and is alarmed by their political influence.

According to a 2023 Public Religion Research Institute (PPRI) opinion poll, approximately 10% of Americans identify as “Christian Nationalist.”

On the other side of the political spectrum, the right denounces a “new scarecrow” invented by liberals (the American left) to “scare non-Christian centrist voters”.

These conservatives accuse their opponents of having electoral aims in view of the presidential election in November when there is nothing new under the sun of the political alliance between the religious right and Donald Trump.

This political-religious rapprochement “is not a new phenomenon in itself”, recognizes Nathalie Caron, specialist in the religious history of the United States at the Sorbonne Nouvelle.

The irruption of evangelists - rigorous Protestants - into the political arena during the 1980s thanks to the very conservative movement of the “Moral Majority” has been analyzed many times.

Just like the marriage of convenience in 2016 between the evangelists and a multi-divorced Donald Trump with Christian virtues that are nevertheless more than questionable.

It seems hasty to reduce nationalist Christians to evangelists who have bitten into the apple of Trumpism with their teeth.

Defining the contours of the Christian nationalist movement is not easy.

“There are currently several acceptable definitions,” says Emma Long, a political scientist at the University of East Anglia and a specialist in the political engagement of North American evangelicals.

It must be said that “it is a somewhat nebulous name which evolves according to the new 'categories' which are created and added to this whole”, analyzes Blandine Chelini-Pont, specialist in the religious history of the United States at the University of Aix-Marseille. 

The origins of the American extreme right

These fundamentalist movements rely on a common base of values.

One of the main historical pillars of Christian nationalism is based on “the belief in the exceptionalism of the United States, that is to say that the United States is the Land chosen by God for Christians”, summarizes Emma Long . 

The first settlers to set foot on American soil – often English, Dutch or German Protestants – would represent a sort of chosen people.

Christian nationalists want a return to the so-called blessed days when America was in the hands of Christians alone.

At least in their imagination. 

In this sense, Christian nationalists are heirs of the nativists of the early 19th century.

“Nativism can be considered as an identity response, a passionate reaction to the danger of otherness, which is triggered as soon as the foreigner is neither Protestant, nor white, nor English-speaking,” assures Blandine Chelini-Pont, in a chapter devoted to Christian nationalism that she wrote for a collective work on the North American religious right. 

“Nativism represents the emergence of the extreme right in the United States in the 1820s-1830s with an extremely xenophobic discourse,” continues Nathalie Caron.

At the time, Indians or Italian Catholics were the main enemies, while today this hatred is turned against Muslims and Hispanics.

For Emma Long, “white evangelicals represent the bulk of the Christian nationalist troops”, but this visceral rejection of the other also means that this movement “is increasingly confused with white supremacism”, specifies Randall J. Stephens, historian of religion in the United States at the University of Oslo.

Among the groups that have been added to this nebula in recent years, “we must count the dominionists (evangelists) who make the elections a spiritual battle for America and the Catholic post-liberals for whom American liberalism is the diabolical cause of the collapse of the country,” explains Blandine Chelini-Pont. 

Mike Johnson, linked to the Dominionists

If these extremist movements are of interest, it is because “the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 by Trump supporters made the general public aware of their existence and their importance within the Republican Party,” assures Randall J .Stephens. 

These “soldiers of the gods” in the service of Trump were as violent as the wacky Qanonists disguised as shamans and the activists of the small paramilitary group the “Oath Keepers” who forced the doors of the Capitol. 

“It was the Donald Trump presidency that encouraged them to come out of the woods, because they realized that institutions were not necessarily an obstacle to their project,” notes Emma Long.

Although they may be in the minority, these fundamentalists took advantage of the Republican Party's submission to Donald Trump to seize key positions.

One of the judges of the Supreme Court of Alabama - who has just delivered this highly criticized verdict on the status of the embryo - thus belongs to the dominionist movement.

This is also the case for Mike Johnson, the influential Speaker of the House of Representatives. 

The dominionists perfectly illustrate the militant desires of these nationalist Christians.

They are fighting for what they call “the mandate of the 7 mountains”: it is a theory according to which seven strategic sectors must be controlled - media, family, religion, entertainment, government, business, education - to “return America to the Christians”. 

But if nationalist Christians are currently showing their claws so much it is not only out of political opportunism linked to the possibility of Donald Trump returning to power.

It is also a defense reflex.

Demographic changes in the United States mean that white Christians represent a smaller and smaller share of the population.

“They feel an existential anguish of disappearance and we are currently witnessing a surge to try to survive,” estimates Nathalie Caron. There would be no animal more dangerous than the animal cornered in some way.

Concretely, this means that they will try to include as many ideas as possible in Donald Trump's program, as Politico points out.

“They are adding elements of language to Trump's campaign to attract 'Christians' towards other themes than the fight against abortion, which no longer has the same relevance,” explains Blandine Chelini-Pont.

Their main hobby horse, according to her, would be “the dictatorship of LGBTQ-liberals who want to destroy Christians and therefore America”. 

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