For alt-right Christians, Russell Moore is the embodiment of where the religious right went wrong—by refusing to openly embrace racism. Throughout his youth, Griffin says, he felt alienated by Christians like Moore who were intent on “condemning racism.” He was only drawn back into Christianity when he married the daughter of Gordon Baum, a far-right Lutheran leader who co-founded the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “a virulently racist group.” Griffin says he joined the CCC, as well as the white nationalist League of the South, because both groups embody the elements he views as integral to his faith: They are “pro-white, pro-Christian, pro-South.”
Moore has become a popular target among alt-right Christians. The white supremacist and popular alt-right radio show host James Edwards, himself a Southern Baptist, regularly disparages Moore on his program, calling him a “cuck-Christian.” In June, after the Southern Baptist Convention banned displays of the Confederate flag, Edwards hosted Nathanael Strickland, proprietor of the Faith and Heritage blog. In a recent post, Strickland had argued that white Southerners “have faced a widespread and determined assault on our heritage, symbols, monuments, graves, and identity by secular and governmental forces,” and likened such supposed attacks to what Hitler claimed in Mein Kampf: that Germans faced “cultural extermination and ethnic cleansing.” Edwards seconded that analysis, declaring the Confederate flag “a Christian flag,” and arguing that to attack it “is to deny the sovereignty, the majesty, and the might of Lord Jesus Christ in his divine role in Southern history, culture, and life.”
Strickland recently told me that alt-right Christians see “racial differences” as “real, biological, and positive,” a view he insists is “merely a reaffirmation of traditional historical Christianity.” He argues that many on the alt-right who consider themselves atheists or pagans only lost their faith in Christianity “due to the antiwhite hatred and Marxist dogma held by the modern church.”
Strickland considers himself a “kinist,” part of the new white supremacist movement that, according to the Anti-Defamation League, “uses the Bible as one of the main texts for its beliefs,” offering a powerful validation to white supremacists for their racism and anti-Semitism. Strickland sees kinism as a successor to Christian Reconstructionism, a theocratic movement dating back to the 1960s that played a key role in the rise of Christian homeschooling. The movement’s primary goal was to implement biblical law—including public stonings—in every facet of American life.
After Trump’s victory, Edwards ferociously attacked the president-elect’s critics, Bible in hand. “The Bible says, ‘There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth,’ and I want there to be that,” he said on his show. “Now is the time for retribution, and I want them to suffer. I want them to feel the righteous anger of a good and decent people. I want Trump to drive them into the sea.” He called on the “degenerates, perverts, and freaks,” and other “criminals who shilled for Hillary” to “make good on your promise to leave the country.” He added: “They can take Russell Moore with them on the way. That’s for sure. Good riddance. Please leave.”
Alt-right Christians like Edwards see their movement as part of a global battle for ethnic nationalism. Days before the election, neo-Nazis assembled at a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to show their support for Trump. Matthew Heimbach, an alt-right Christian leader who founded the Traditionalist Worker Party, told the crowd they were in a worldwide struggle for the preservation of “ethnic, cultural, and religious integrity,” a battle that has been joined by “nationalists around the world that are fighting the same enemy.” That enemy, Heimbach said, is made up of “Jewish oligarchs and the capitalists and the bankers” who “want to enslave the entire world.” He ticked off some of the movement’s international allies: President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, who has overseen a Hitler-inspired campaign of extrajudicial killings, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has displaced and slaughtered millions of his own citizens. To Heimbach, Assad “is fighting to defend his people against the globalist hydra of Saudi Arabia, of the terrorist state of Israel, and United States interests.”
Heimbach, who made headlines last March for shoving a Black Lives Matter protester at a Trump rally, also draws inspiration from the far-right Russian writer Alexandr Dugin, whose book, The Fourth Political Theory, he considers “suggested reading” for all Traditionalist Worker Party members. Dugin’s writings reinforced Heimbach’s belief, he says, that “we must reject the failed and flawed concepts of democracy, capitalism, equality of ability, and multiculturalism.” To alt-right Christians like Heimbach, democracy itself is a failed and flawed concept.
Some, in fact, believe that Trump does not go far enough in defending the faith. Strickland, for example, views Trump as merely a “civic nationalist,” not a full-blown racial and ethnic nationalist like those on the alt-right. “There are four legs supporting the table of civilization,” he says. “Blood, religion, culture, and language. Civic nationalists only acknowledge the last three of those.” In Strickland’s view, the alt-right must now become Trump’s “loyal opposition,” prodding the president even further to the right. “The alt-right’s job in the coming months and years will be to solidify nationalism’s place in the Republican Party and push the importance of the fourth leg—blood.”