Author: Braunstein, Ruth

The Pluralist Resistance Doc-list

Looking to keep up with the latest documentary films and podcasts about Christian Nationalism? There is so much creative and insightful content being created about Christian Nationalism, its history, and the real people working to both spread and resist it. We’ve screened it all so you don’t have to. Here are the docs we recommend most. Let us know if you have any suggested additions to the list!

America First hat, God Guns and Trump hat
Source: God & Country film



BAD FAITH: Christian Nationalism’s Unholy War on Democracy

CHARISMATIC REVIVAL FURY: The New Apostolic Reformation


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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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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.

Want to Read More? Explore Related Articles on the Topic:

Coming Soon: Profiles in Resistance

Well, that’s a wrap on Fall 2023. This semester has flown by, but the Pluralist Resistance to Christian Nationalism team here at the Meanings of Democracy Lab has gotten a huge amount of work done, and we are looking forward to sharing more with you in the coming months.

In addition to our work compiling a database of organizations resisting Christian Nationalism in the US today and developing a Pluralist Resistance Syllabus for interested readers, each member of the research team has selected one organization to be the subject of a profile focusing specifically on their efforts to resist CN.

We will be rolling out these Profiles in Resistance in the new year, and hope you will follow along as we do so. In the meantime, please be in touch with suggestions of other organizations or leaders whose work we should be following.

Speaker Mike Johnson and the Influence of Christian Nationalism

Graphic: Kojo Aurelien; Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Last month, Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana replaced Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House of Representatives, making him third in line to the Presidency. Since his election, experts have weighed in on the role religion plays in the Speaker’s life and political views, and his embrace of many ideas associated with White Christian Nationalism.

Last week, Meanings of Democracy Lab Director Dr. Ruth Braunstein contributed to this conversation with a focus on the Speaker’s longtime concerns about Christian persecution, and how a mounting sense of embattlement has contributed to the radicalization of many white evangelical Christians in the US.

Mike Johnson embodies evangelicals’ embattlement strategy. It may be backfiring, by Ruth Braunstein

Interested in learning more? We’ve curated 10 additional articles featuring experts on religion and politics diving deeper into who Johnson is and why this matters. Continue reading

The Pluralist Resistance Syllabus

As our team begins its work to build a comprehensive database of the groups and leaders combatting (White) Christian Nationalism, we have compiled a list of books that are part of this effort. Some of these have been written by groups and leaders engaged in this work. Others are referenced in public discussions about the dangers of WCN for American democracy and Christianity. Finally, others are academic texts that expand our understanding of the history and current nature of WCN in the US. 

NOTE: This is a working document, and we invite you to submit suggestions for additions to Dr. Ruth Braunstein at

The Syllabus

(Alphabetical by author last name – last update: June 10, 2024)

Alberta, Tim. 2023. The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism. Harper.
Almond, Gabriel A., R. Scott Appleby, and Emmanuel Sivan. 2011. Strong Religion: The Rise of Fundamentalisms around the World. University of Chicago Press.
Boyd, Gregory A. 2007. The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church. Zondervan.

Braunstein, Ruth. 2017. Prophets and Patriots: Faith in Democracy Across the Political Divide. Oakland, California: University of California Press.

Brockschmidt, Annika. 2021. Amerikas Gotteskrieger: Wie Die Religiöse Rechtedie Demokratie Gefährdet. Originalausgabe ed. Hamburg: Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag.

Butler, Anthea D. 2021. White Evangelical Racism. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. 

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Who is the Pluralist Resistance? Criteria for inclusion

This semester our team is starting to build a comprehensive database of the groups and leaders working to combat (White) Christian Nationalism. We call this loosely defined set of groups and leaders the Pluralist Resistance.

We define this field broadly, recognizing that this work is happening across numerous institutional fields; across party lines; across religious, racial and other social divides; and from the local to the transnational level.

Nonetheless, in an effort to create some boundaries around the field, we have identified five criteria for inclusion. Efforts need to fulfill at least one in order to be considered part of this field. Continue reading

Christian nationalists have provoked a pluralist resistance

Meanings of Democracy Lab Director, Dr. Ruth Braunstein, has published a new essay at Religion News Service arguing that though the resurgence of Christian Nationalism in American politics has rightfully raised public concern, there is another, relatively untold, side of this story: The most recent rise of Christian nationalism has ignited a wave of resistance. 

According to PRRI, Americans who have heard of Christian nationalism are twice as likely to hold a negative than a positive view of the term. These Americans also reject the specific ideas associated with the ideology. Indeed, the 3 in 10 Americans that PRRI found who align with Christian nationalism to some degree are opposed by nearly the same percentage (29%) who completely reject the ideas associated with Christian nationalism. Another 39% is skeptical.

Most importantly, these Americans are joining a growing movement I call the pluralist resistance. They are taking action through a diverse set of organizations that each tackles a different dimension of Christian nationalism’s influence.

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Work with us in Fall 2023!

Are you interested in working with the Meanings of Democracy Lab? During Fall 2023, we are seeking Research Assistants to work on two different projects: 

Mapping the Pluralist Resistance to Christian Nationalism:
– RAs on this team will assist Dr. Braunstein with the development of a database of groups and leaders working to combat Christian Nationalism in the United States.
– Tasks will include research online and using social media; collecting publicly available data on nonprofit organizations (e.g., IRS Form 990s); maintaining detailed records in a spreadsheet; and working to develop public-facing op-eds and reports based on the research. 
– This team does not require previous research experience, and may be interesting for students interested in politics, religion, and academic research.
The Moral Meanings of Taxpaying:  
– RAs on this team will assist Dr. Braunstein with tasks related to the publication of a new book, as well as several related articles.
– Tasks will include factchecking, standardizing footnotes and references, and working to develop public-facing op-eds and reports based on the research. 
– This team will be most interesting for students who wish to work in publishing, writing, or academic research. 
In addition, the Lab is looking for two interns, who will also be part of these teams:
Book Publishing Intern: This person will be part of the Moral Meanings of Taxpaying team, and will have primary responsibility for work related to Dr. Braunstein’s book manuscript. This opportunity would be ideal for someone wishing to gain work experience in the publishing field
Social Media Intern: This person will manage the Lab’s social media accounts in consultation with Dr. Braunstein. This person could also work as a member on one of the research teams. This opportunity would be ideal for someone wishing to gain work experience in the digital marketing and communications field. 
The positions are open to rising sophomores, juniors and seniors. Preferred GPA is 3.6 or higher. Students from any campus are welcome to apply. Work will primarily be conducted virtually, though if students are based at Stamford there may be some in-person work. Students will receive three units of 3000-level directed research credit. 
To help us evaluate how good a fit you would be for each of these positions, please fill out an application form at: If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Braunstein at

New research on public funding of abortion

In a research note published in the March 2022 issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, lab director Ruth Braunstein, along with coauthors Andrew Whitehead and Ryan Burge review national public opinion data on public funding of abortion:

Source: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (

Abstract: An abundance of research examines Americans’ attitudes toward abortion legality and morality with particular attention to polarization around this issue and the influence of social movements, religious organizations, the media, and political leaders. There is a relative dearth, however, of research focusing on attitudes toward the public funding of abortion services. Using three national, random samples of American adults, we address this gap in the literature. We find that the oft-cited “bipartisan consensus” around opposition to public funding of abortion is a myth. In fact, there is more bipartisan consensus around abortion legality than abortion funding, across religious traditions. As national debates about abortion funding intensify, these findings underscore the importance of future surveys consistently measuring Americans’ attitudes toward public funding of abortion, above and beyond abortion legality or morality.


Read the full article here.