December 12, 2022 – Most Americans were shocked by the violence they witnessed at the nation’s Capital on January 6th, 2021. And many were bewildered by the images displayed by the insurrectionists: a wooden cross and wooden gallows; “Jesus saves” and “Don’t Tread on Me;” Christian flags and Confederate Flags; even a prayer in Jesus’ name after storming the Senate chamber. Where some saw a confusing jumble, Philip S. Gorski and Samuel L. Perry saw a familiar ideology: white Christian nationalism.

Book: The Flag and the Cross: White Christian Nationalism and the Threat to American Democracy

In this short primer, Gorski and Perry explain what white Christian nationalism is and is not; when it first emerged and how it has changed; where it’s headed and why it threatens democracy. Tracing the development of this ideology over the course of three centuries–and especially its influence over the last three decades–they show how, throughout American history, white Christian nationalism has animated the oppression, exclusion, and even extermination of minority groups while securing privilege for white Protestants. It enables white Christian Americans to demand “sacrifice” from others in the name of religion and nation, while defending their “rights” in the names of “liberty” and “property.”

White Christian nationalism motivates the anti-democratic, authoritarian, and violent impulses on display in our current political moment. The future of American democracy, Gorski and Perry argue, will depend on whether a broad spectrum of Americans–stretching from democratic socialists to classical liberals–can unite in a popular front to combat the threat to liberal democracy posed by white Christian nationalism.

Product Details

  • Publisher
  • Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publish Date
  • April 01, 2022
  • Pages
  • 176
  • Dimensions
  • 5.71 X 8.28 X 0.79 inches | 0.7 pounds
  • Language
  • English
  • Type
  • Hardcover
  • EAN UPC  9780197618684

About the Author

Philip S. Gorski, Professor of Sociology at Yale University, is a comparative and historical sociologist who writes on religion and politics in early modern and modern Europe and North America. His work has been featured and discussed in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR and other national media outlets. He is the author, most recently, of American Babylon: Christianity and Democracy Before and After Trump (2020) and American Covenant: A History of Civil Religion from the Puritans to the Present (2017).

Samuel L. Perry
 is a sociologist of American religion, race, politics, sexuality, and families and serves as Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Oklahoma. In addition to his scholarship in leading scientific journals, he has written for outlets like The Washington Post and Time Magazine and his work has been featured in Time, The New Yorker, The Economist, The New York Times, and elsewhere. He is the author or co-author of Growing God’s Family (2017), Addicted to Lust (Oxford 2019), Taking America Back for God (Oxford 2020).


“Deeply researched and immensely clarifying, The Flag and the Cross offers a sobering account of the history of white Christian nationalism and the threat it poses in our present moment. Anyone who cares about the fate of American democracy should read this book.” — Kristin Kobes Du Mez, New York Times bestselling author of Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation

“White Christian nationalism is the key concept to understand the authoritarian American right today. In this exceptional investigation, drawing on sociology, social psychology, philosophy, and history, Gorski and Perry show how the various apparently incoherent strands of libertarianism, racism, and authoritarianism combine to make a toxic moral and political stew. This book makes a vital contribution to our understanding of the current moment.” — Jason Stanley, author of How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them

“For anyone concerned about the future of religion and democracy in America, Gorski and Perry’s The Flag and the Cross is essential reading. This book helps us understand how white Christian nationalism divides Americans along racial and religious lines.” — Anthea Butler, author of White Evangelical Racism

“Gorski and Perry make sense of the seemingly senseless January 6 uprising. Built on powerful evidence, they show how white nationalism wove itself into the very fabric of modern conservative values. By making visible the creation of white nationalism, this book gives me hope that we can unmake it.” — Beth Allison Barr, Professor of History at Baylor University and author of The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth