The idea of Christian nationalism is upsetting to many contemporary Catholics and Orthodox in the West, albeit for different reasons. The Orthodox have never had much of a home in the geographic West, being confined to a handful of geographic locales where, regrettably, they have watched their numbers dwindle over the decades. Perhaps because of this fact, coupled with the “convert wave” of the 1990s, Orthodox found it convenient to hitch themselves to the political wagon of mainline Evangelical Protestants—a wagon directed primarily by the dominant politics of the Republican Party and its false promise to significantly curtail abortion access in the United States. (That Republicans, at the local level, have managed to do this in discrete areas of the country is not in dispute; their failure to do much at the federal level is telling, however.)
Catholics, for both historic and doctrinal reasons, were one averse to any form of American nationalism that would place them at odds with the Church. That aversion began to fade in the 20th Century. Eventually the aversion was gone and in its place were a number of “well intentioned” proposals for how “good Catholics” could become “good Americans” with a legitimate voice that might be heard in the so-called public square. Catholic nationalism became American nationalism, at least for a time. To say that time is over is an understatement, even if there remains more than a few thinkers, magazines, and think tanks willing to preach that “old time religion” of Americanist-style Catholicism.
None of this is to say that there cannot be legitimate forms of Christian nationalism even it may be impossible to grow it in Western soil. The historic situation in Western Ukraine (Galicia), which began to form into an independent, Christian state under the Austrian Empire, provides an example of the Church directly engaged in the process of nation-building without sacrificing its divine mission (see earlier posts here and here). By providing a moral compass for lay initiatives, ranging from educational societies to credit unions, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church helped lead Galician natives to forge a society that managed to take their cultural identity into account—one that had been shaped by Christianity for nearly a millennium. Although the push for Ukrainian national independence eventually fell victim to the “blood-and soil” ideology that captured much of central and eastern Europe after the Great War, its roots were thoroughly Catholic. God, not the nation, came first.
What can we learn from this? That question continues to occupy me. It is now clear that “enlightened” secular America wants nothing to do with us. At some point it will put us to death, and if not us, then our children and their progeny. The “spirit” of run n’ hide as a template for “saving Western civilization” is, in the end, a false one, as is its more well-intentioned offshoot, the “spirit” of apoliticism. The collective failure of faithful Christians to stand their ground in the face of secular oppression, and to ignore the great lies that rest at the heart of liberalism, should fill us with deep shame. But it is not impossible for shame to be a precursor to strength, which can only come from living faithfully by the laws of Christ the King and pledging unwavering devotion to His Most Pure Mother, the Queen of Heaven and Protectress of Christians.