Rob Reiner’s ‘God and Country’ Is A Schizophrenic, Partisan Broadside Against Conservative Christians (Review)

Rob Reiner’s ‘God and Country’ Is A Schizophrenic, Partisan Broadside Against Conservative Christians (Review)


The recent film “God and Country,” produced by Rob Reiner, a well-known liberal figure, has stirred controversy since its release last week. The documentary is accused of unfairly linking Christian nationalism with the beliefs of conservative Christians, using inflammatory language and out-of-context clips to make its point.

Despite featuring 18 experts discussing the topic, the film fails to present a balanced view, painting Christian nationalists in a negative light. Critics argue that the filmmakers either lack understanding or intentionally seek to discredit a wide range of individuals by labeling them as Christian nationalists. The documentary highlights various political stances held by conservative Christians, such as opposition to feminism, LGBTQ rights, legal abortion, and secular public education. It also touches on issues like Critical Race Theory, explicit literature in schools, and evangelical efforts to influence political change through voting.

Entities such as The Heritage Foundation, Turning Point USA, and Hillsdale College, which are involved in such endeavors, are criticized as “Christian nationalist organizations.”

The documentary implies that holding conservative Christian beliefs is problematic enough, but any efforts to gain political representation to implement them are considered dangerous and even idolatrous, showcasing what Russell Moore refers to as “the idolization of power itself.”

The main antagonist of the film is former President Donald Trump, who is portrayed as someone who capitalizes on racism and the thirst for power within the Christian nationalist community. His presence is accompanied by ominous music and accusations that Christians supporting him have strayed from their fundamental values.

Despite the concerns expressed by individuals like David French and Skye Jethani about the growing hostility towards Christians, the film “God and Country” does little to alleviate these fears, instead opting for sensationalism.

Kristin Kobes Du Mez, Ph.D., a professor at Calvin University, expresses concern about the emergence of a more militant interpretation of Jesus and a “warrior Christ” among evangelicals, providing a foundation for Christian nationalists to justify political violence.

Moore also cautions against individuals who may interpret spiritual warfare concepts as a call to engage in actual political violence, while former pro-life activist Rob Schenck recounts priests arming themselves during services.

By insinuating that Christian nationalists have a thirst for violence, the film connects Trump to events like Charlottesville and January 6, attributing these incidents to Christian nationalism as its most catastrophic outcomes. The film also highlights the overturning of Roe v. Wade as a significant cause taken up by the Christian Right after failing to address issues like school funding.

The movie proceeds to escalate the rhetoric by examining how Christians in Germany allowed Adolf Hitler to come to power, subtly suggesting that a similar situation is unfolding among Christians who support the former president.

According to Schenck, this white religious nationalism, which I no longer pretend is evangelicalism, poses a significant threat to our democratic experiment. He emphasizes that it is disturbing to imagine what America could become under a fascist regime.

Moore explains that Christian nationalism manipulates Christianity to achieve a specific goal, which is some form of authoritarianism.

Towards the end of the film, various voices use religious language to caution the audience about the true meaning of being a Christian in the political realm. This makes it evident that they themselves are not exempt from the evangelical impulse that they criticize.

Reza Aslan, who converted from Christianity to Islam, highlights that the greatest sin of Christian nationalism is its failure to recognize pluralism as a strength and the very foundation of American identity. He references his own radical devotion to multiculturalism, such as his controversial act of consuming cooked human brain with a fringe Hindu sect on CNN.

In the closing scene, minister and progressive social activist William Barber II asserts that the church’s true strength lies in its commitment to protecting people regardless of their race, faith, or sexuality. This statement is accompanied by images of a pride parade.

The film ultimately suggests that, for many on the left, Christian nationalism is simply any form of Christianity that seeks political representation without conforming to their progressive orthodoxy.

While various factions compete for their place in the public sphere, it appears that conservative Christians are the only ones expected to surrender the fight, even by those within their own ranks.

[TCP]

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