Left Behind: How Conservative Faith Groups Have Rejected Alt-Right Politics

The alt-right has been fairly quiet in the mainstream media recently. Between the government shutdown, the passage of sweeping tax reform, and continued tension with North Korea, the movement that captivated and infuriated America last August seems to have faded into the background. While potentially detrimental to a movement that feeds off of stirring up trouble on the national stage, the alt-right has much larger problems to worry about than media attention – namely, the complete rejection of its core values by many of its traditional supporters and the demise of some of its most influential figures.

Many of the alt-right’s most prominent public figures have been dropping like flies as the American public uncovers their true intentions – to seed division among Americans, advance their racist and misogynistic identity politics, and prop themselves up with imitation political power.

Take the rise and fall of Steve Bannon for instance. While many may not see Bannon as a poster child for the alt-right, his desire to create a populist state in America and love for creating division to promote his ideology gives voice to the more radical wings of the movement. Despite his quick rise to power as a leading member of the Trump campaign, his radical views lead the White House to cut all ties with him. Thinking he could continue his influence, Bannon backed a deeply flawed candidate in the Alabama Senate election and lost a seat that was nearly guaranteed for Republicans, as many conservatives rejected his narrow-minded politics. Bannon was then dropped by his own nationalist-bent media outlet, Breitbart, for his controversial statements criticizing the Trump administration, concluding the glorious fall of one of America’s most reprehensible political figures.

Another alt-right figure with weakening influence is teenaged white-nationalist Nicholas Fuentes. Fuentes came to power in alt-right circles for his childish tirades on the biased media, suppression of the white male, and his objections to feminism; however, he gained national attention for withdrawing from Boston University after receiving death threats for attending the Charlottesville white supremacist rally last August. Recently, and similarly to Steve Bannon, America First Media, the nationalist media outlet that Fuentes helped create, severed ties with Fuentes, leaving him to spew his white-nationalist filth to the confines of his own Twitter followers.

As the demise of its leaders continues to take power away from the alt-right movement, perhaps a more telling development is the seemingly complete rejection of its core ideals by the greater American culture. Fifty years ago it was a much different story in America than today. Nationalism and white-supremacy were the norms in many parts of the country, and some of its staunchest supporters were people and groups of faith. However, today’s alt-right finds itself outnumbered as a fringe political movement legitimized only by its small base of misguided Twitter followers.

One of the most promising events to come out of the Charlottesville rally was the overwhelming condemnation of racism, nationalism, and white supremacy by leaders of nearly every major religion and faith. Many of the counter-protesters at the event were Baptist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Methodist, etc., and following the rally, a group of 150 theologians and activists released a document entitled the Theological Declaration on Christian Faith and White Supremacy. The declaration stated, “Our task here is twofold, to acknowledge and repent of the Church’s complicity in perpetuating white male supremacy in all of its forms and to hear and to heed the call to return to the truth of Scripture, fully revealed in the person of Jesus.” Despite many leaders’ – like Bannon and Fuentes – attempts to tie their beliefs to religion, the church continues to leave them behind.

Perhaps there is a reason the alt-right has remained relatively quiet recently. Rather than giving proponents of the alt-right a voice, the modern church – along with the rest of America – has stood strong against those who support hatred and bigotry. The hatred found in identity politics is simply not compatible with the message that promotes love and compassion for fellow men and women created in God’s image that is found in Christianity. Neither is it compatible with the long-standing belief in the equal freedom to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness espoused by Conservatives. I am proud to identify as both.

We as Christians, as Conservatives, and as Americans should continue to stand against those who promote the values embraced by the alt-right. Rather than allow our culture to be defined by the immoral actions of the radical few, we should continue to stand for love, for grace, and for freedom.

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