Rob Reiner and Christian Leaders Probe the Danger of Christian Nationalism in ‘God & Country’
Prolific filmmaker Rob Reiner is tackling Christian nationalism in his new documentary God & Country. The documentary will explore the danger that Christian nationalism poses, not just to the United States but to Christianity itself.
While Reiner is best known as the director behind hits like This Is Spinal Tap, Stand By Me, and The Princess Bride, he has recently made the switch to documentaries. He recently directed Albert Brooks: Defending My Life and is now producing God & Country. Reiner isn’t the only big name behind the documentary, which was directed by five-time Emmy nominee Dan Partland. It’s not surprising that Reiner is intrigued by the topic of Christian nationalism, considering his history of liberal advocacy. While he is an atheist, he has expressed support for some of the underlying moral ideas of Jesus’ teachings, such as treating others how you wish to be treated.
Christian nationalism is an especially relevant topic, as the political ideology has been increasingly embraced by the far-right. These individuals believe that the United States should be a Christian state. Instead of maintaining separation of church and state, they want the government and laws to be based on Christian ideals and for the country to promote, or even require, Christian teachings and symbols in public schools and spaces. Although largely political, the documentary will appeal to Christian viewers as it features several leaders of the religion.
The Christian nationalism movement especially gained traction during the presidency of Donald Trump. Many believe that the movement contributed significantly to the January 6 riots. Not only are there underlying dangerous ideologies in Christian nationalism that promote racism, anti-immigration, and sexism, but it also promotes violence by pushing the false narrative that Christians are under attack and that there’s some kind of war they need to fight. Reiner’s documentary may help further shine a light on the dangers of this movement.
Rob Reiner drops first trailer for God & Country
Rob Reiner and Christian nationalism quickly started trending on X, formerly Twitter, after God & Country‘s official trailer dropped on December 7. The documentary doesn’t have an official release date but is slated to arrive in theaters sometime in February 2024.
The trailer switches between clips of far-right protests and riots and Christian leaders sitting down and providing their perspectives on Christian nationalism. Some of these individuals reveal they are Christian ministers or have been practicing the religion their whole lives, and they have an interesting perspective—that Christian nationalism isn’t Christian. They note that the ideology doesn’t embrace or promote Christian values. It’s simply used as a means to gain power and is a very violent, aggressive, and malicious route towards a kind of authoritarianism. Based on the trailer, it seems that God & Country could actually appeal to Christians. It emphasizes that those concerned about Christian nationalism aren’t against Christianity and highlights that these are two very different things.
What is God & Country about?
The official synopsis for God & Country reads:
From director Dan Partland and producer Rob Reiner, GOD & COUNTRY looks at the implications of Christian Nationalism and how it distorts not only our constitutional republic, but Christianity itself. Featuring prominent Christian thought leaders, GOD & COUNTRY asks this question: What happens when a faith built on love, sacrifice, and forgiveness grows political tentacles, conflating power, money, and belief into hyper-nationalism?
Unsurprisingly, the response on social media to God & Country‘s trailer hasn’t been very positive. On Reiner’s X post sharing the trailer, the top replies criticize him for tackling this concept as a non-Christian, as well as push the misconception that this documentary is anti-Christian. Anyone who actually watches and listens to the trailer, though, will see that Christian figures are leading the commentary in the documentary and that it’s actually very positive towards Christianity.
Both Christians and non-Christians are capable of seeing that Christian nationalism is a threat to Christianity because it’s a threat to religious freedom in general. Merging religious and national identities in America and enforcing a government-sponsored religion is a complete rejection of religious freedom and our first amendment rights. The religion that Christian nationalism promotes also doesn’t look at all like genuine Christianity.
God & Country captures the real problem of Christianity, which is that many extreme followers completely abandon the principles of the religion. In theory, anyone, even atheists, can get behind the moral ideals of the religion, such as promoting love, inclusion, free will, and treating others right. One minister in the trailer points out how Christianity could be powerful as a counterculture that provides individuals with an alternative way of life. Christianity gets dangerous when it starts promoting ideas that aren’t found in the gospels, like hatred, discrimination, violence, and control. In examining the divide between Christianity and Christian nationalism, God & Country may be able to unite non-believers and believers in combating the threat the latter poses to America.
(featured image: Oscilloscope Films)
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