Over the weekend, Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who has used his platform to promote Christian Nationalism over the Constitution, released a campaign ad that was basically theocracy on steroids.
Where are you, men and women of faith?
If we lose this country, our children will never know freedom.
Stand united as men and women of faith to fight for America! pic.twitter.com/FQNKo8vfRs
— Madison Cawthorn (@CawthornforNC) October 3, 2021
I feel a spiritual battle going on on Capitol Hill. The only way that we take our country back is when strong, God-fearing patriots decide it is time for us to stand up and say “No” to your tyranny. Now is the time for our pastors and our congregations, like this one here, like many of you, that you represent, it’s time for us to stand up and declare boldly that, as men and women of faith, we have a duty to stand against tyranny. We have a duty to be civically involved. We have a duty to save this country for the next generation.
… [In the Old Testament] Look at David, look at Daniel, look at Esther. Look at all these people who influenced the governments of their day to uphold Christian principles.
It is time for the American Christian church to come out of the shadows, to say no longer are we going to allow our culture to be determined by people who hate the things that we believe in. We are going to stand valiantly for God’s… incredible, inerrant truths that predate any version of government. Because, my friends, if we lose this country today, if we bend the knee to the Democrats today, our country will be lost forever, and our children will never know what freedom is.
It’s our duty to stand up. Let us stand united as men and women of faith to fight for our country!
Let’s get the obvious point out of the way: If Rep. Ilhan Omar gave a speech like this to a Muslim audience, the right-wing media would never stop talking about it. But when a Christian Nationalist like Cawthorn does it, it’s seen as patriotic. Cawthorn can’t “stand against tyranny” when he’s defending the January 6 insurrection and fueling another attempt in the future.
It’s also biblically misguided. David, Daniel, and Esther (as Cawthorn notes) are characters in the Old Testament. There was no Christianity, much less “Christian principles” to uphold in the governments of their day.
Everything you hear in that ad comes from a speech Cawthorn delivered to the North Carolina Faith & Freedom Coalition’s “Salt & Light Conference” last month. He was a speaker alongside other Christian Nationalists like hate-preacher Greg Locke and North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, who blamed school shootings on a lack of forced Christianity.
For a member of Congress to appear at that event should be disqualifying on its own. But, again, when you’re pandering to the extremists in your base — and you govern as if no one else matters — that kind of gig is a feature, not a bug.
Cawthorn has spent his time in office bragging about how he tried to convert Jews, denouncing the Christianity of more progressive politicians, demanding that witnesses at congressional hearings pay homage to his God before speaking, and lying about how Joe Biden‘s plan to get people vaccinated is really just an attempt to steal people’s bibles.
He’s a professional liar who gets away with it because conservative Christians don’t have the courage to call him out on it. This is what happens when devotion to faith overrides basic human decency and competence. The people who claim to exist on a moral high ground because they follow Jesus are doing everything they can to empower those who are actually destroying the country and hurting the people in it.
Cawthorn has several challengers in 2022, including Republicans frustrated with his complete apathy toward his job. One of the Democrats is a Christian minister who’s unafraid of calling out his violent faith-based rhetoric. But whether any of them will be successful in defeating a right-wing ideologue who only cares about appealing to fellow Christian extremists remains to be seen.