Politico reporter backpedals on definition of ‘Christian nationalism,’ further exposes her bias

(The Daily Signal) – Politico reporter Heidi Przybyla said in a recent television appearance that so-called Christian nationalists believe our rights “come from God,” rather than “any…

(The Daily Signal) – Politico reporter Heidi Przybyla said in a recent television appearance that so-called Christian nationalists believe our rights “come from God,” rather than “any earthly authority.”

After getting eviscerated online, she backpedaled to nuance her position. After all, Thomas Jefferson would qualify under her definition, since he wrote in the Declaration of Independence that “we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights … .”

But rather than clarify her point, she retreated into vagueness and equivocation—all the better to camouflage her own parochial views.

“The phenomenon of Christian nationalism may be relatively new, but the larger questions it raises have been around for a long time,” she wrote in Politico. “Any group of activists asserting a religious imprimatur for their policy agenda should be prepared to answer a couple questions.”

First, she wrote, “are they respecting the American principle of separation of church and state?” According to Przybyla, some Christian nationalists “have made plain in their public rhetoric that their aim is to blur or even erase this line.” And second, “are they ready to play by the same rules that everyone in a democracy must as they try to influence our laws[?]”

“No doubt some people feel so strongly in their views, and the righteousness of their position, that they would like to glide right over these questions,” she asserts. These people “seek to impose their views on the rest of us by claiming that heaven is on their side.”

So, who are these people? Przybyla doesn’t offer a single example. But a glance at her previous reporting gives us a good idea of whom she has in mind.

Those Sneaky ‘Christian Nationalists’

In a February article, for instance, Przybyla and co-author Alexander Ward warn of conservatives planning to infuse “Christian nationalist” ideas into former President Donald Trump’s administration should he win a return to office in 2024.

The authors fixate on Russell Vought, former director of the Office of Management and Budget and current president of the conservative think tank the Center for Renewing America.

Politico apparently obtained documents that reveal CRA’s agenda. The authors admit that the documents “do not outline specific Christian nationalist policies.” They still say the think tank is “Christian nationalist,” though, because “Vought has promoted a restrictionist immigration agenda … .”

That “agenda” is likely the standard conservative view that a nation has the right to defend its borders and prevent hordes of illegal aliens from flooding in.

The reporters then sloppily attribute to Vought the claim that it isn’t a person’s background that defines whether he can enter the U.S., but rather whether he “accept[ed] Israel’s God, laws and understanding of history.”

In the Vought article they’re presumably referring to, though, he’s citing Israeli scholar Yoram Hazony’s description of ancient Israel, not describing the conditions for American citizenship. And in the very same piece, Vought affirms the institutional separation of church and state.

In a December article, Przybyla argues that conservatives are also trying to infuse sectarian dogma into the judiciary. Among those targeted are Princeton professor of jurisprudence Robert George and Federalist Society Co-Chairman Leonard Leo.

Only the Left Can Be ‘Friends of the Court’?

The pair, she claims, were key influences in the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. George filed a “friend of the court” brief in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, in which he and legal philosopher John Finnis offered a cogent defense of the right to life of the unborn. (See George’s response to Przybyla here.)

According to Przybyla, amicus briefs like George’s apparently trace back to the nefarious efforts of Leo  and a network of conservative nonprofits. “In major cases involving cultural flashpoints of abortion, affirmative action and LGBTQ+ rights, Politico found information cited in amicus briefs connected to Leo’s network in the court’s opinions,” she wrote.

The conspiracy, she thinks, goes even deeper. “The picture that emerges,” she reveals, “is of an exceedingly small universe of mostly Christian conservative activists developing and disseminating theories to change the nation’s legal and cultural landscape.”

Why is it bad that legal scholars like George have sought to shape judicial decisions through amicus briefs, or that Leo has contributed to various political causes?

Przybyla claims that amicus briefs used to be “vehicles for neutral parties to make suggestions based on fact or law.” But when, say, a pro-life legal scholar submits an amicus brief, she implies that that’s sectarian.

Of course, submitting amicus briefs to the Supreme Court isn’t illegal, immoral, or undemocratic. It’s a common way of working to advance one’s views in our judicial system.

Liberal and leftist groups such as the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, the Human Rights Campaign, and NARAL do it all the time. Do they count as “neutral parties” for Przybyla? Presumably so.

The claim that when Christian conservatives do what left-wing groups do all the time, it’s evidence of a creeping theocracy would be laughable if she made it so plainly.

Yet, if we survey her other recent articles on the subject, that seems to be her view: When religious conservatives seek to legally influence policy, they’re trying to be “subversive to democracy” by pushing a sectarian agenda. In contrast, when her seemingly favored left-wing groups do the same thing, it’s neutral, commonsensical, and universally applicable.

But Przybyla’s views on these subjects are hardly neutral or rooted in American principles. Her claim of a “right to abortion,” for instance, is supposedly based on a “right” to privacy mentioned nowhere in the Constitution. What’s more, it contradicts the right to life of the unborn. And in Dobbs, the Supreme Court rejected the argument that the Constitution protects or enshrines any such right.

She has also warned that Christian nationalism threatens “LGBTQ+ rights” and “sex education in schools.” She’s vague about what these things mean. But the terms are the common parlance of gender ideologues who want to smuggle in radical aims, like indoctrinating kids in queer theory without parental consent and offering them “gender-affirming care” (doublespeak for the medical and/or surgical mutilation of a child’s body).

The Supreme Court has not yet weighed in on this debate. If the justices ultimately side with the critics of such indoctrination and medical interventions, will Przybyla report this as another victory for those sneaky Christian nationalists?

Confused Musings or Leftist Projection?

Given her written record to date, it seems highly likely. But her confused musings on the subject look like a classic case of leftist projection. She treats her own radical views as neutral, and accuses her opponents, whose views are arguably more consistent with American principles, as sinister and sectarian.

In her most recent, “clarifying” article, Przybyla claims that those who try to impose their religious views on the public should “expect fair and well-reported coverage of their political aims and the tactics used to advance them.” And, she emphasizes, they should not expect “any extra deference for their political words or actions simply because they are motivated by religious belief.”

Fair enough. But given her own confused and sectarian views, she might as a journalist consider the wisdom of a proverb Jesus once referred to: “Physician, heal thyself.” Or would that be Christian nationalism, too?