Christian nationalism will lead to Christian persecution, SBC President Bart Barber warns

Southern Baptist Convention President Bart Barber has condemned the idea that the church should be running government and warned advocates of Christian nationalism that pursuing such an agenda will result in the persecution of Christians.

“It stands contrary to 400 years of Baptist history and everything I believe about religious liberty. I’m opposed to the idea of Christian dominion, churchly dominion over the operations of government,” Barber insisted in a wide-ranging interview with Anderson Cooper on CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday.

“I object to it because Jesus said His kingdom is not of this world. I object to it because every time it’s been adopted it wound up persecuting people like me. It doesn’t stop at persecuting people who are not Christians,” he said. “It eventually winds up persecuting people who are Christians for whom the flavor of their Christianity is different from that of the government.”

Barber’s comments come in the wake of statements from high-profile Christians such as born-again Christian Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., who insisted this summer that the Church should be running the government.

“The Church is supposed to direct the government. The government is not supposed to direct the Church. That is not how our Founding Fathers intended it,” the born-again, first-term congresswoman said during a speech at Cornerstone Christian Center in Basalt in her home state in June.

She said that she is “tired of this separation of Church and state junk,” and noted that the separation of Church and state is not in the U.S. Constitution. Boebert added it was only in a letter that “means nothing like they say it does,” likely referencing an 1802 letter from President Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Church Association in Connecticut stating that the First Amendment has “a wall of separation between Church and State.”

A 2019 campaign launched by the Baptist Joint Committee, a progressive faith-based group of attorneys, Capitol Hill insiders, ministers and scholars, argued that: “Christian nationalism seeks to merge Christian and American identities, distorting both the Christian faith and America’s constitutional democracy.”

“Christian nationalism demands Christianity be privileged by the State and implies that to be a good American, one must be Christian. It often overlaps with and provides cover for white supremacy and racial subjugation. We reject this damaging political ideology and invite our Christian brothers and sisters to join us in opposing this threat to our faith and to our nation,” the group Christians Against Christian Nationalism said in a statement.

Barber, who was elected to the helm of America’s largest Protestant denomination in June, also addressed other controversial issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, politics and instances of sex abuse in Southern Baptist churches, which is believed to be the impetus for the Department of Justice launching an investigation into SBC entities.

The DOJ announced its investigation after the May 22 Guidepost Solutions report found that leaders in the SBC intimidated whistleblowers and exonerated churches with credible claims of negligence of sexual abuse victims.


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