Month: March 2024

News Deep Dive: The Alabama IVF Ruling and Christian Nationalism

By Sophia Trott and Adrish Das

Alabama families face uncertainty after Supreme Court IVF ruling
Photo Credit: NBC News

On February 16th, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are to be considered the same as children under the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act according to the Supreme Court of Alabama, whereas according to them, the act applies: “to all unborn children without limitation. And that includes unborn children who are not located in utero at the time they are killed.” 

This has sparked significant debate not only regarding the legal and ethical aspects of in vitro fertilization (IVF) but also the ties that it has to the current presence of Christian Nationalism within our government institutions. This is due to the nonsecular nature of the rhetoric used within the different aspects of the court proceedings regarding IVF. The current influence of Christian Nationalism throughout America crucially helps to understand the implications of the ruling on reproductive rights and how church and state seemed to be intersecting.

Below, our research team rounded up some of the most interesting statements about Christian Nationalism’s influence on the ruling.

Concerning the ruling, the court’s chief justice Tom Parker stated:

“Human life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God,” he wrote in a concurring opinion that invoked the Book of Genesis and the prophet Jeremiah and quoted at length from the writings of 16th- and 17th-century theologians. “Even before birth,” he added, “all human beings have the image of God, and their lives cannot be destroyed without effacing his glory.”

Joshua Sharfstein of Johns Hopkins University went into detail describing the religious aspects of the ruling alongside providing us with an additional quote from Chief Justice Parker:

“But beyond that, the concurring decision of the Chief Justice (Parker) and of the main justice are really redolent of a theological kind of discussion. As I was reading these opinions, what really struck me is that the rhetoric sounds more like Scripture than it does the language of the law. Here’s an excerpt: 

‘We believe that each human, being from the moment of conception, is made in the image of God, created by Him to reflect His likeness. It is as if the People of Alabama took what was spoken of the prophet Jeremiah, and applied it to every unborn person in the state.’”

It is clear that the ruling is embedded with Christianity in mind. Religious studies scholar Matthew D.Taylor says that:

“At that point, there’s no negotiation. There’s no compromise, there’s no like, “Oh, well, let’s meet in the middle and say let’s have a 16 week ban.” They are abortion abolitionists. What we see in Tom Parker’s ruling is more or less that rationale, using theology and Bible references to back that up and then pointing to his own belief in the Seven Mountains and saying, “This is why I did it.”

Taylor here brings up an interesting fact regarding Tom Parker and his belief in the Seven Mountains. The Seven Mountains Mandate is described as:

“A theological approach that once seemed fringe within evangelicalism but is now gaining traction. Backed by a network of nondenominational, charismatic Christians known as the New Apostolic Reformation, this mandate calls on its adherents to establish what they believe to be God’s kingdom over the seven core areas of society, including the government.”

The Seven Mountains Mandate is the heart of Christian Nationalism, whereas individuals who practice Christianity believe in a religious mandate that dictates the functioning of the country as a whole; a uniform belief that must be accepted by all. Many individuals have vocalized their concern following this Alabama ruling and the inherent religiosity that is being presented in the rationale. Referencing Tom Parker’s rationale, University of North Florida professor Julie Ingersoll, who studies religion and culture, proclaimed that: 

“He framed it entirely assuming that the state of Alabama is a theocracy, and that that is a legitimate way of evaluating laws and policies…it looks like he decided to just dismiss the history of first amendment religious freedom jurisprudence at the federal level, and assume that it just doesn’t apply to Alabama.”

All while Tom Parker enacts political rulings on behalf of religious beliefs, a recent study highlights the grave concern that Christian Nationalism is undoubtedly present within American society. Rulings like the Alabama IVF decision are not random, they are instead based in reason that supports some American beliefs that allude to Christian nationalism:

“Today, 30% of Americans support tenets of Christian nationalism, according to a study…from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). Researchers asked more than 22,000 Americans how much they agreed with statements such as: “The US government should declare America a Christian nation”; “Being Christian is an important part of being truly American”’; and “God has called Christians to exercise dominion over all areas of American society.” Ultimately, about 10% of Americans qualify as “adherents” to Christian nationalism, and another 20% are “sympathizers”…. White evangelicals are particularly likely to support Christian nationalism: 66% hold Christian nationalist views.”

Not all groups agreed that the court’s decision was a bad thing, instead, they agreed with it as it illustrated their beliefs that religion should dictate governmental proceedings. Tony Perkins, the president of the conservative Family Research Council, agreed with the ruling on social media: 

“Good to see this 7-2 decision by the Alabama Supreme Court to protect unborn life. In his concurring opinion, Chief Justice Tom Parker gives a beautiful defense of life and the Alabama Constitution.”

The Alabama IVF decision has been polarizing to the American discourse as it discusses the proper and improper use of religiosity as it pertains to legislation, as well as the debate on when human life is defined. As opponents of Christian Nationalism, it can be deduced that: 

“The Alabama Supreme Court has grossly overstepped its role by classifying frozen embryos, single-celled fertilized eggs, as children. Justices have crossed a critical boundary to assign personhood to something created in a lab that exists outside of a human body…the outcome of this case will certainly affect access to fertility treatment across the country as more and more state legislatures advance policies that are based on an ideological and unscientific definition of personhood.” 

The Pluralist Resistance YouTube Playlist

As our team works to build a comprehensive database of the groups and leaders combatting (White) Christian Nationalism, we have compiled a YouTube playlist of videos created by those involved in this effort. Many of the videos feature experts on Christian nationalism in the US and discuss how people are working to resist its influence nationally and in local communities. 

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Resistance to Christian Nationalism profiled in UConn Today

A wooden cross sits on top of an American flag.

Director Ruth Braunstein talked to UConn Today about the Meanings of Democracy Lab’s new project mapping the growing field of resistance to Christian Nationalism in the United States. Thanks to a new $300,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, Braunstein will scale up this work through a podcast and interactive web platform where users can explore various resistance efforts.

The spread of Christian Nationalism is a source of bipartisan concern in American politics today, as it undermines the country’s foundational commitment to religious pluralism. As the UConn Today article explains: 

Though [Braunstein] notes the country has not always lived up to its pluralistic ideals, she believes these ideals call Americans to create “a democracy where people of all religious faiths and no religious faiths are welcome to live in the way they choose — and not just welcome, but also part of the group of people who get to create that society.”

Americans across the partisan divide and across religious communities believe in this vision, and they increasingly voicing concern about the influence of Christian Nationalism on US politics. Braunstein observes, “As Christian nationalism was gaining power and influence in American politics, it was also unleashing a wave of resistance.” 

The project is the first of its kind to try to map this field of resistance, which:

include[s] the “usual suspects” — “liberal religious groups, legal defense groups” — who have been resisting Christian nationalism for decades, “but also include[s] some new actors, including many conservative white Christians who were concerned about what Christian nationalism meant for both American democracy and American Christianity.” 

Follow us online and @USDemocracyLab for the latest updates on the project. 


Grant funding for this project comes from the Henry Luce Foundation’s Religion and Theology Program, through an initiative seeking to “Advance Public Knowledge on Democracy, Race and Religion in America.” 

The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to deepen knowledge and understanding in pursuit of a more democratic and just world. Established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time, Inc., the Luce Foundation advances its mission by nurturing knowledge communities and institutions, fostering dialogue across divides, enriching public discourse, amplifying diverse voices, and investing in leadership development. 


Profiles in Resistance: MICAH


Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope was founded upon the idea of bringing different religious denominations together as one voice for justice. The organization includes Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and other religious communities who, as a collective, act towards civic engagement, criminal justice reform, and economic development, among other initiatives.

The We All Belong Campaign originated as part of MICAH’s goal to promote civic engagement and education as a way to push back against Christian nationalism. MICAH identifies Christian nationalism as a dangerous ideology that aims to sow division throughout the United States. Christian nationalism lumps Christian identity and American identity together, which distorts Christian values and marginalizes religious minorities and non-religious people. MICAH focuses on gathering around Martin Luther King Jr.’s Beloved Community, where everyone is loved and respected regardless of religious affiliation.

Photo Credit: MICAH

The Beloved Community believes in the power and necessity of pluralist democracy. This view is consistent with the principles of America’s founding, however, it is actively being undermined by Christian nationalism, which instead prioritizes only those who see Christianity as a favored elite and political class. Standing for democracy means separating church and state, which allows for a diverse acceptance of other religious traditions. Conflating Christianity with American identity erases the history and culture of other religious groups who also view themselves as Americans.

The We All Belong Campaign began with the idea that the religious leaders of various denominations would join with the president of MICAH, Rev. Dr. Richard Shaw, to sign a statement that commits these religious groups to the goals of the campaign: protecting democracy, rejecting Christian nationalism, and building the Beloved Community. To celebrate this commitment, the religious leaders and their community members marched together to Milwaukee’s iconic statue of Martin Luther King Jr., representing the Beloved Community uniting as pictured below.

Photo Credit: MICAH; Rev. Dr. Richard Shaw signing the “We All Belong” Campaign Statement

Yana Tartakovskiy is a junior studying healthcare management and insurance studies major, political science minor. Her interests include healthcare laws and public policies shaping women’s health.

For more information about the organizations and individuals resisting Christian Nationalism in the United States today, check out our Pluralist Resistance to Christian Nationalism project page. 

Debating Christian Nationalism at the Super Bowl

By: MoD Lab Research Team

Super Bowl: a time for family and friends to sit back, relax, and enjoy prime American entertainment. It is estimated that almost 202.4 million people tuned in to watch the Super Bowl on February 11th. Along with the game comes the infamous commercials, all tapping into the different realms of persuasive marketing. This season, two commercials in particular created a stir amongst the American public. Released by the He Gets Us campaign, the two ads were titled “Who is My Neighbor?” and “Foot Washing.”

Credit: He Gets Us Campaign

The campaign promotes understanding of Christianity and seeks to frame Jesus’ story in a positive light, but their approach has been polarizing even for those who identify themselves as Christian. The commercials have garnered mixed responses from both the political left and right. One reason for the controversy is who paid for these commercials. Hobby Lobby and its founder David Green spent almost $20 million on this campaign. He has previously advocated for greater representation of Christian values in our legal system and poured money into the legal restriction of women’s reproductive autonomy. This is one reason why the commercials were initially viewed as an effort to promote Christian Nationalism and the idea that Christianity is the guiding principle of our nation.

And yet the commercials actually appear to be calling out the harms of Christian nationalism. The goal of this commentary is to reimagine the way people view Jesus. How could these beliefs that Christians share, they ask, be “twisted into a tool to judge, harm, and divide?” The He Gets Us commercials emphasized how, as Christians, one should not judge thy neighbor. In the “Foot Washing” commercial, there are various scenes of people washing each other’s feet, some in controversial situations including a police officer washing a Black man’s feet and two women outside of a family planning clinic. The commercials thus appear to support the idea of respecting all individuals and calling out harmful Christian Nationalist ideas of using the Bible to exclude people on certain the basis of race, sexuality, or political beliefs. The “Who is My Neighbor?” commercial furthers these ideas with depictions of homeless and Trans and/or gender fluid-appearing individuals. The phrase “who is my neighbor?” flashes onto the screen followed by “the one you don’t notice, value, welcome.” This commercial again promotes the message of inclusivity with a direct call-out to those who do not do so.

This campaign is seemingly directed toward Christians that may not follow what He Gets Us believes in: Jesus’ love. The campaign website states that Jesus “didn’t let pro-this or anti-that opinions prohibit him from seeing the value in all people”, which encompasses what both of these commercials aim to project. Though criticized for so directly promoting Christianity, the campaign also seems to be attempting to fight harmful Christian Nationalistic ideals from within, by promoting a role for Christian ideas of kindness, love, and inclusivity rather than political division and dominion. The critical public reaction to the ads, however, suggests that this is a difficult line to walk.

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