Movie: GOD & COUNTRY
Rating: PG-13, thematic material, some violent images and strong language
Release Date: February 16, 2024
Jeanne: What is happening to the separation of church and state in the United States? One of the fundamental tenets of our constitution is being tested by the rise of Christian Nationalism, according to a new documentary, GOD & COUNTRY, directed by Dan Partland and produced by Rob Reiner.
Asking the question “What happens when a faith built on love, sacrifice and forgiveness grows political tentacles, conflating power, money and belief into hyper-nationalism?“, GOD & COUNTRY seeks to expose the ramifications of this dangerous trend. Christianity in the U.S. is in crisis. Church attendance is down, but the numbers of people who identify with this idea of Christian Nationalism are up.
And the belief that is most commonly espoused is that the U.S. was designed to be a “Christian Nation”. Where does that leave all the citizens who don’t buy into the notion that we are solely a country of Christians --- and where does that leave the church?
Our political divisiveness is affecting all aspects of our daily lives. Families have been torn apart because of the intertwining of our politics and religious identities. When one of our current candidates for president is touted as “endorsed by God”, that sets a terrifying precedent, which is a direct threat to our democracy.
GOD & COUNTRY interviews faith leaders from many religions, scholars, journalists --- people who are able to opine on the topics of faith, politics and American culture. My personal favorite is Sister Simone Campbell, a Catholic sister, who is also an attorney with a great deal of experience in public policy.
She is brilliant --- and also quite amusing, though the seriousness of the dangers of Christian Nationalism are not lost on her. When asked if this movement is, in fact, Christian, her answer is an emphatic “NO!”. The violence embraced by many who consider themselves Christian Nationalists, such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, is diametrically opposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ. So, one has to wonder which Bible they are reading. But I digress ---
January 6, 2021 ignited a firestorm for those who believe in this movement. They have become more strident in their actions --- looking to further their domination over what the majority of Americans want. And what will stop them?
That is a question GOD & COUNTRY doesn’t fully answer, but many of those interviewed have certainly provided clarification --- and also ideas for where we go from here. As Partland states, “Everyone who’s interested in understanding our current political dysfunction in the U.S. should see the film.” I couldn’t agree more.
Opinion: See It Now!
David: The hypocrisy of today’s Republican Party has been rampant dating back to the beginning of the Trump era. A new documentary directed by Dan Partland and produced by Rob Reiner --- GOD & COUNTRY --- exposes the same sentiment within the far-right clergy, a.k.a. evangelical America.
The film focuses on what is called Christian Nationalism as the benchmark of the current evangelical movement. Their leaders are injecting politics into their religious beliefs, ignoring the long-standing constitutional principle of separation of church and state. The former president received 81% of the evangelical vote in 2016 which put him over the top. That percentage is now dropping as the doc points out.
Another example of their hypocritical stance: they oppose abortion and clearly are pro-life. But they turn a blind eye to situations like the 13-year-old girl raped by her uncle who must travel far to get a legal abortion. No exceptions!
We see jaw-dropping footage in GOD & COUNTRY of preachers and their die-hard audiences turning to Trump as their beloved savior. “I am the Chosen One!” Trump famously crows. After a reporter suggests that he has a problem with the truth, one woman asks incredulously “Does Donald Trump lie?”. When the subject of January 6, 2021 arises, it is mentioned in the doc that as time goes on, January 6th was a necessary evil that had to be done.
We witness protests held by Christian Nationals holding signs that read “Deport All Illegals!” and “Build the Wall, Nice and Tall!”. And politicos like Marjorie Taylor Greene holding court in front of a cheering audience saying that most people in this country are Christian Nationals.
Perhaps the most telling commentary about the wave of the new movement is this: “Christian Nationalism uses Christianity as a means to an end, that end being some form of authoritarianism”.
Because so much material is presented so rapidly, GOD & COUNTRY is decidedly worth a second viewing.
Opinion: See It Now!