Why do we let these people call themselves Christians?

Until his double life was exposed, Thomas Achord (photo below) was headmaster of a Baton Rouge school for “classical Christian education.”

Hiding behind a pseudonym, he advocated “Christian nationalism,” a far-right ideology that respects neither democracy nor religious freedom (see details here). It has a dark past; historically, it was “used to justify taking Native American land and enslaving people,” according to a Yale scholar (read story here).

In Achord’s case, it had an ugly racist and anti-semitic side, too. Then Twitter users unmasked his clandestine Twitter account, and the school — which is innocent in all this — fired him.

Christian nationalism surfaced in the 2022 elections. Two especially scary GOP nominees, Doug Mastriano and Kari Lake, were labeled “Christian nationalists” by the media even if in fact they weren’t. Mastriano, in particular, made state-imposed religion a centerpiece of his losing campaign. Fortunately, it turned off voters; even some Republicans voted against him. He and Lake also both are pro-Trump, pro-insurrection election deniers.

Such people are the polar opposite of what real Christianity is about, just as were the medieval monsters who tortured and burned people at the stake in Christ’s name. So why do we let thoroughly un-Christian people get away with calling themselves Christians?

A few years ago, the acronym “WWJS” became a meme for challenging un-Christian behavior. It’s a question: “What would Jesus say?” The problem is some people have to look it up to know what you’re talking about. It also invites rebuttal.

Why not be more direct, and address this in plain words that everyone will immediately understand? Un-Christian people — and American political life is full of them — certainly can call themselves anything they like. We can’t stop their speech. But we don’t have to give it our tacit approval by remaining silent.

When a racist or fascist calls himself a Christian just respond, “No, you’re not.” If he’s foolish enough to debate you, compare his behavior with Jesus’ teachings. Be prepared for blank stares, though. Most of these people don’t actually read the Christian Bible, and have no idea what it actually says.

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