Free and faithful Baptists have long advocated for religious liberty and the strict separation of church and state. In response to the January 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol, the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs conducted a conversation on the dangers of Christian nationalism. The following statement, affirmed by a diverse group of American Christians, is valuable for all who care about preserving both democracy and religious liberty:
As Christians, we are bound to Christ, not by citizenship, but by faith. We believe that:
· People of all faiths and none have the right and responsibility to engage constructively in the public square.
· Patriotism does not require us to minimize our religious convictions.
· One’s religious affiliation, or lack thereof, should be irrelevant to one’s standing in the civic community.
· Government should not prefer one religion over another or religion over nonreligion.
· Religious instruction is best left to our houses of worship, other religious institutions and families.
· America’s historic commitment to religious pluralism enables faith communities to live in civic harmony with one another without sacrificing our theological convictions.
· Conflating religious authority with political authority is idolatrous and often leads to oppression of minority and other marginalized groups as well as the spiritual impoverishment of religion.
· We must stand up to and speak out against Christian nationalism, especially when it inspires acts of violence and intimidation—including vandalism, bomb threats, arson, hate crimes, and attacks on houses of worship—against religious communities at home and abroad.
Whether we worship at a church, mosque, synagogue or temple, America has no second-class faiths. All are equal under the U.S. Constitution. As Christians, we must speak in one voice condemning Christian nationalism as a distortion of the gospel of Jesus and a threat to American democracy.