God & Country

As we see various churches go by, Reverend William Barber II recalls Martin Luther King’s words wondering what kind of people worship there.  Constitutional lawyer Andrew Siedel remembers watching the January 6 attack on the Capitol on television, his blood running cold when he saw a rioter walk onto the floor of Congress carrying a Christian flag and realized something he had been warning about was coming to pass.  Director Dan Partland (Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump") explores the history and reveals the threat of Christian Nationalism in “God & Country.”

Laura's Review: B

Anyone watching the likes of Lauren Boebert declare “I'm tired of this separation of church and state junk — that's not in the Constitution. It was in a stinking letter and it means nothing like they say it does,” who passes it off as more of her nonsense isn’t paying attention to the applause that statement received.  (For the record, the first amendment to the US Constitution states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.")  As Republican policy has become less and less popular with most American citizens, the party has turned to the religious right to retain power, but as Dan Partland illustrates, this is a movement that began well before Roe vs. Wade, instead anger over U.S. law forcing private religious schools to segregate.

The movement is insidious and Partland’s documentary is a clarion call for American citizens to awaken to the danger of a very well funded effort to use our democratic system to impose a minority rule that is misogynistic, racist, homophobic and transphobic, a perversion of the meaning of Christianity.  D.C. based Catholic nun Simone Campbell is quick to say there is nothing Christian about Christian Nationalism, that it is not based on the values of the Gospel while Barber points out that the movement is loud about wealth and guns while being quiet about poverty and the needy.  When Donald Trump is compared to a Televangelist with his ridiculous hair, gold-plated apartment and private jet, a man who uses his platform to scam the multitudes for money, one cannot help but recognize how true the comparison is.

Siedel, author of “The Founding Myth,” gives us the constitutional background that the movement is flouting as the case is made that Evangelicalism in this country has become a political movement seeking power and amassing wealth.  Violence began to be embraced by the Tea Party movement as a means to take power back for the people, now adopted by Christian Nationalists, who present a muscular, warrior-like Jesus.

“God and Country” is a well thought out, dual-pronged investigation into a movement willing to shred democracy to achieve its goals.  One cannot help but recall the Sinclair Lewis quote, "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

Robin's Review: B

I have always thought the term “oxymoron” as a perfect description for the hate-filled, decidedly anti-Christian, movement called “Christian Nationalism.” The proponents believe that the teachings of Jesus and the need for power, control and hate are one in the same thing. This deplorable movement is examined, in depth, in “God & Country.”

When the phrase “Christian Nationalism” became a thing, I knew right off the bat that the movement was neither “Christian” nor “National.” What it is, in my mind, is a movement that has no relationship to the word, Christian (it is anything but), or National – which to me means all of the people, not just those white folk who think they are superior to all others, regardless of race or creed. Politics for the CN league are not Republican (in the once-meaning of the word) but are clearly MAGA, Trump and hate for all others who do not look, think, worship or act like them.

When I heard we were getting “God & Country” to review, I was both interested and appalled, knowing full well the subject matter. I am familiar enough with American politics to know that any extremist ideology is not a good thing – in 1930s Germany, Christianity and the Nazi party were closely tied. We are living with that again except that instead of calling themselves “National Socialists,” they adopted “Christian Nationalist.” Scant difference to me.

Even before I watched the first second of “God & Country,” I knew I would be angry through the whole 90 minutes – and I was. To me, such people as Trump, proud CNer Marjorie Taylor Green and Lauren Robert and their ilk are contemptible people who have no place in making decisions for America. Unfortunately, because these loud, well-funded racist bigots hold the national floor, they may, in fact, win their war against reason and right. The filmmakers make their case well.

We have been hearing the far-right rhetoric that we need to return to a kinder and gentler time like the 50s. I can see why the CNers want to return there – it was a white-dominated America where others were second or even third class citizens. To me that was an era that should remain in the past and the future should not include the so-called Christian Nationalists – or anyone else who espouses hate.

Oscilloscope Laboratories releases "God & Country) in theaters on 2/16/24.  Click here for play dates.