The best books on Christian Nationalism in the United States

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by the relationship between Christianity and the United States for decades. Much of my work in the area of Christian nationalism is the result of my personal religious history and experiences, as well as my work as a social scientist. I’ve always been fascinated by how religion influences and is influenced by its social context. Christian nationalism in the US is a clear example of how influential religious ideologies can be in our social world.


I wrote...

American Idolatry: How Christian Nationalism Betrays the Gospel and Threatens the Church

By Andrew L. Whitehead,

Book cover of American Idolatry: How Christian Nationalism Betrays the Gospel and Threatens the Church

What is my book about?

Power. Fear. Violence. These three idols of Christian nationalism are corrupting American Christianity.

Andrew Whitehead is a leading scholar on Christian nationalism in America and speaks widely on its effects. In this book, he shares his journey and reveals how Christian nationalism threatens the spiritual lives of American Christians and the church. Whitehead shows how Christians harm their neighbors when they embrace the idols of power, fear, and violence. He uses two examples--racism and xenophobia--to demonstrate that these idols violate core Christian beliefs. Through stories, he illuminates expressions of Christianity that confront Christian nationalism and offer a faithful path forward. American Idolatry encourages further conversation about what Christian nationalism threatens, how to face it, and why it is vitally important to do so.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church

Andrew L. Whitehead Why did I love this book?

It was this book that really put the pieces together for me regarding how my personal religious beliefs and my status as an American citizen should intersect.

Growing up in Christian spaces it was assumed that to be a good American was to be Christian, and to be a good Christian was to be American. Boyd’s book helped me distinguish the two in a new and fresh way.

By Gregory A. Boyd,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Myth of a Christian Nation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The church was established to serve the world with Christ-like love, not to rule the world. It is called to look like a corporate Jesus, dying on the cross for those who crucified him, not a religious version of Caesar. It is called to manifest the kingdom of the cross in contrast to the kingdom of the sword. Whenever the church has succeeded in gaining what most American evangelicals are now trying to get - political power - it has been disastrous both for the church and the culture. Whenever the church picks up the sword, it lays down the…


Book cover of One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America

Andrew L. Whitehead Why did I love this book?

Knowing our history is so important, and this is one of the best books on the history of Christian nationalism in the United States during the 20th century.

What becomes so clear is the cultural influences on American Christianity including which voices are lifted up, and which ones are ignored or silenced. Let’s just say you won’t ever look at Billy Graham and his work the same way again.

By Kevin M. Kruse,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked One Nation Under God as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

We're often told that the United States is, was, and always has been a Christian nation. But in One Nation Under God , historian Kevin M. Kruse reveals that the belief that America is fundamentally and formally Christian originated in the 1930s.To fight the slavery" of FDR's New Deal, businessmen enlisted religious activists in a campaign for freedom under God" that culminated in the election of their ally Dwight Eisenhower in 1952. The new president revolutionized the role of religion in American politics. He inaugurated new traditions like the National Prayer Breakfast, as Congress added the phrase under God" to…


Book cover of The Gospel of J. Edgar Hoover: How the FBI Aided and Abetted the Rise of White Christian Nationalism

Andrew L. Whitehead Why did I love this book?

Lerone Martin’s book makes a conclusive case for how influential Christian nationalism can be when it is embraced and enforced by a whole institution—like the FBI—but especially when the person leading that institution demands it be so. J. Edgar Hoover is likely one of the most influential purveyors of white Christian nationalism in American history. Some of the accounts are jaw-dropping.

By Lerone A. Martin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Gospel of J. Edgar Hoover as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The shocking untold story of how the FBI partnered with white evangelicals to champion a vision of America as a white Christian nation

On a Sunday morning in 1966, a group of white evangelicals dedicated a stained glass window to J. Edgar Hoover. The FBI director was not an evangelical, but his Christian admirers anointed him as their political champion, believing he would lead America back to God. The Gospel of J. Edgar Hoover reveals how Hoover and his FBI teamed up with leading white evangelicals and Catholics to bring about a white Christian America by any means necessary.

Lerone…


Book cover of The Flag and the Cross: White Christian Nationalism and the Threat to American Democracy

Andrew L. Whitehead Why did I love this book?

While history is important for showing us how we got to where we are, social science is indispensable in helping us understand what exactly is going on around us today.

This book is a must-read for those who want to know how Christian nationalism threatens democracy. The authors conclusively demonstrate the various anti-democratic beliefs and values held by Americans who strongly embrace Christian nationalism.

January 6th wasn’t an aberration, and this book helps us understand the threat we still face.

By Philip S. Gorski, Samuel L. Perry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Flag and the Cross as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bracing examination of a force that imperils American democracy

Most Americans were shocked by the violence they witnessed at the nation's Capital on January 6th, 2021. And many were bewildered by the images displayed by the insurrectionists: a wooden cross and wooden gallows; "Jesus saves" and "Don't Tread on Me;" Christian flags and Confederate Flags; even a prayer in Jesus' name after storming the Senate chamber. Where some saw a confusing jumble, Philip S. Gorski and Samuel L. Perry saw a familiar ideology: white Christian nationalism.

In this short primer, Gorski and Perry explain what white Christian nationalism is…


Book cover of The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism

Andrew L. Whitehead Why did I love this book?

This book painstakingly traces the powerful people and groups that support and perpetuate Christian nationalist ideologies and efforts across the United States. This book pairs well with social science texts in that it highlights the powerful networks that mobilize the millions of Americans who embrace Christian nationalism. 

By Katherine Stewart,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Power Worshippers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For readers of Democracy in Chains and Dark Money, a revelatory investigation of the Religious Right's rise to political power.

For too long the Religious Right has masqueraded as a social movement preoccupied with a number of cultural issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage. In her deeply reported investigation, Katherine Stewart reveals a disturbing truth: this is a political movement that seeks to gain power and to impose its vision on all of society. America's religious nationalists aren't just fighting a culture war, they are waging a political war on the norms and institutions of American democracy.

Stewart pulls…


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Book cover of Benghazi! A New History of the Fiasco that Pushed America and its World to the Brink

Ethan Chorin Author Of Benghazi! A New History of the Fiasco that Pushed America and its World to the Brink

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Story-lover Middle East expert Curious Iconoclast Optimist

Ethan's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Benghazi: A New History is a look back at the enigmatic 2012 attack on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya, its long-tail causes, and devastating (and largely unexamined) consequences for US domestic politics and foreign policy. It contains information not found elsewhere, and is backed up by 40 pages of citations and interviews with more than 250 key protagonists, experts, and witnesses.

So far, the book is the main -- and only -- antidote to a slew of early partisan “Benghazi” polemics, and the first to put the attack in its longer term historical, political, and social context. If you want to understand some of the events that have shaped present-day America, from political polarization and the election of Donald Trump, to January 6, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Russian expansionism, and the current Israel-Hamas war, I argue, you need to understand some of the twists and turns of America's most infamous "non-scandal, scandal.”

I was in Benghazi well before, during, and after the attack as a US diplomat and co-director of a medical NGO. I have written three books, and have been a contributor to The NYT, Foreign Affairs, Forbes, Salon, The Financial Times, Newsweek, and others.

By Ethan Chorin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Benghazi! A New History of the Fiasco that Pushed America and its World to the Brink as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On September 11, 2012, Al Qaeda proxies attacked and set fire to the US mission in Benghazi, Libya, killing a US Ambassador and three other Americans.  The attack launched one of the longest and most consequential 'scandals' in US history, only to disappear from public view once its political value was spent. 

Written in a highly engaging narrative style by one of a few Western experts on Libya, and decidely non-partisan, Benghazi!: A New History is the first to provide the full context for an event that divided, incited, and baffled most of America for more than three years, while silently reshaping…


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