Fri. Apr 12th, 2024

Latino evangelical support for Christian nationalism rises as Trump courts religious vote

By 37ci3 Mar12,2024

MIAMI – During a Sunday sermon in mid-February, Pastor Dionny Báez shared a sign with his congregation.

“I believe God is going to do something wonderful with the Latino people in the United States,” he said.

The crowd responded with applause and remained attentive for the rest of the weekly morning evangelistic service held at the old nightclub.

Evangelical leaders’ message to churchgoers during the presidential campaign is a valuable key to understanding where the evangelical voting bloc is headed.

“We are the leaders of the communities, aren’t we? There are thousands of people who are affected by our words,” Baez, the founder of the H20 Church, said in an interview with Noticias Telemundo.

Baez said his priority when endorsing a candidate is that it aligns with his values. He advised others to do so when they asked for guidance on the November pageant.

Evangelicals are a conservative bloc of the Hispanic electorate and are “more involved than ever” in elections, said evangelical Pastor Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), which bills itself as the largest Hispanic Christian organization in the world. it’s over 40,000 churches in the US alone.

“Evangelical Latinos will vote this year like no other year,” Rodriguez said. this election cycle.

About 10 million Hispanics in the U.S. identify as evangelical or Protestant, and according to the latest figures, “about three in ten Hispanic Republicans (28%) identify as evangelical Protestant.” From the Pew Research Center.

For decades, US evangelicals have been part of the Republican Party’s electoral base, which has defended its conservative positions on abortion and other issues. As conservative Republicans continue to court these voters, promises to align their political agenda with Christian values ​​become more frequent and overt.

Growing support for Christian nationalism

At the National Convention of Religious Broadcasters in Nashville, Tennessee, in late February, former President Donald Trump drew a standing ovation from a packed audience when he said, “We need to get our religion back, we need to get Christianity back in this country.” ”

“I swear no one will touch the cross of Christ during the Trump administration,” Trump said after falsely claiming religious persecution of Christianity in the United States

Donald Trump at the National Religious Broadcasters International Christian Media Convention
Donald Trump at the National Religious Broadcasters International Christian Media Convention on February 22 in Nashville, Tenn.Kevin Wurm / AFP – Getty Images

It is related to Trump’s rhetoric The ideology of Christian nationalismIt calls for a single Christian nation with the laws and traditions of America and its adherents do not believe in the separation of church and state.

This religious and identity belief system permeated Hispanics belonging to evangelical and Protestant churches.

While a majority of Americans (67%) reject or are skeptical of Christian nationalism, it resonates strongly with two religious groups: 66% of white evangelicals and 55% of Hispanic Protestants say they support or sympathize with the movement. 2023 American Values ​​Atlas survey It is conducted nationally by the non-affiliated Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI).

The survey surveyed more than 22,000 adults in all 50 states and measured respondents’ affinity for the following statements: The US government should declare America a Christian nation; US laws should be based on Christian values; If the United States departs from our Christian foundations, we will no longer have a country; Being a Christian is indeed an essential part of being American; and God has called Christians to dominate all aspects of American society.

Spanish Protestants were the only religious group to see an increase in support for Christian nationalism, rising 12% between the first survey in 2022 and 2023.

By contrast, acceptance of Christian nationalism was significantly lower among other religious groups: 75% of Spanish Catholics and 92% of American Jews disagreed.

The survey found that “holding Christian nationalist beliefs is strongly associated with Republican Party identity and support for Trump” among whites and Hispanics, but not among black Americans.

Religious leaders as well as Scholars of Christian nationalism warn that Christian nationalists seek to impose their beliefs on all aspects of government and society, believing it to be God’s will.

“Ideal World”

A few weeks before the PRRI report was published, Noticias Telemundo attended an evangelical service in Miami led by Baez to report on the Latino evangelical vote.

While Baez and the congregation were not asked specifically about the term Christian nationalism, they were asked about their concerns and priorities ahead of the November election and the role religion plays in their political positions.

When Baez was asked if the laws of this country should be based on Christian values, he said, “That would be an ideal world, an ideal world, because those are my values, that’s my way of thinking, it would be wonderful, because I believe that an integral Christian foundation is conducive to human development. does. But Baez added that it’s important to respect other people’s ways of thinking and values.

For Osmani Martinez, a Cuban Christian who plans to vote for Trump, “it would be great if the state and the church were one.”

Puerto Rican Elizabeth Rodriguez worked for many years in the Democratic Party. In addition to his Christian faith on the ballot, he said he would be influenced by the candidates’ proposed plan for “the well-being of my community, the well-being of my family.”

It advocates freedom and democracy, but there must be a system that includes God.

Felix Cordova, a Mexican, goes to the H20 church where he feels the “presence of God”. After passing the citizenship test, he hopes to be able to participate in the November elections. If he does vote, it will be for Trump, he said, “because he made a difference, he continues to make a difference, he’s a man who gets on his knees and asks the Father for direction.”

Cordova considers herself spiritual, is not pro-abortion, and believes that the Republican Party protects Christian values ​​in an out-of-control world. For him, spiritual education should be a source of support for American laws.

Raising concerns

Carlos Malave, president of the Latino Christian National Network, believes that a lack of education about Christian nationalism and its political connotations has allowed many Hispanics to inculcate these ideas. In his view, Latinos accept this rhetoric without realizing that it is an attack on their community.

“When you ask the public, what is Christian nationalism in the churches, people cannot answer,” he said. is a distortion of the Christian faith.

The Puerto Rican-born Protestant reverend said the ideology’s reliance on racism and patriarchy can contribute to the marginalization of vulnerable groups or minorities, including immigrants. “A great job has been done by extremist groups to convince even immigrants themselves that new immigrants are a threat,” Malavé said.

Christian nationalism, which erases the separation of church and state, is based on the supremacy of white culture and the superiority of Christianity over other religions, Malave said.

According to the group, Christian nationalists argue that the United States is and always should be Christian from the top down. Christians Against Christian Nationalism. In addition, it “carries assumptions about nativism, white supremacy, authoritarianism, patriarchy and militarism,” Malavé said.

In Reclaiming America for God, which explores how this ideology trying to win over more and more conservatives Latin Americans, Andrew Whitehead and Samuel L. Perry argue that this is the dominant line of thinking among Trump’s followers.

“American Christian nationalism is a worldview based on the belief that the United States is superior to other countries and that this superiority is divinely ordained,” said Samuel Perry, an associate professor at Baylor University, a private Christian academic institution in Texas. an article on the specialized site “The Conversation”.

“They think only Christians are true Americans,” he said.

According to Perry, although most Christian nationalists do not engage in violent acts, ideology “It suggests that unless Christians control the state, the state will suppress Christianity.”

“Most of this disinformation and lies come from radical Republican groups,” Malavé said.

Efforts to raise awareness of the implications of this rhetoric in the Latino community continue, but face great challenges.

Fighting immigration positions

Baez says she admired Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposals, particularly those aimed at limiting the discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation with young children in public schools, but was disappointed by the presidential candidate when he took an anti-immigrant stance.

Baez sees Christian Latinos at a crossroads when it comes to running for office because the Republican Party, the party that espouses his religious principles, also promotes the most anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric.

“What am I telling my people? “I’m really saying to our people that we need to focus on the values ​​that reflect who we are as a Christian community, rather than immigration reform or helping people who come in illegally,” he said.

"Take Back Our Border" convoy TX
A man carries a cross to the stage during the Take Back Our Border Convoy event near Eagle Pass in Quemado, Texas, on February 3.Washington Post via Jabin Botsford/Getty Images

In California, Pastor Samuel Rodriguez said he was also concerned about the anti-immigrant stances of most conservative Republicans: “I don’t like it because sometimes the rhetoric is nativist and racist, and I don’t deny that.”

However, he is convinced that without Christianity there is only anarchy, chaos and darkness. That’s why he believes many Christians no longer support the Latino Democratic Party, especially for its pro-abortion stance.

“Let them continue with this strategy to see if it works for them,” he said.

Rodriguez said the United States was founded under a Judeo-Christian platform, but when asked if he should legitimize those values ​​as a guide, he said, “We’re not theocratic.”

For some far-right politicians, like Colorado Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, Separation of church and state is “garbage”.

“The church should lead the government, the government should not lead the church,” he said in July 2022.

“We must be Christian nationalists“, said the Republican representative of Georgia, Marjorie Taylor Greene.

In early February convoy organized for the “Take Back Our Border” rally Displayed on the southern Texas border, it attracted Trump supporters and Christian nationalists, who carried crosses and were baptized as they rallied in support of tougher border enforcement.

An earlier version of this story was first published on Noticias Telemundo.

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By 37ci3

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