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Two OKC congregations held a joint service on the topic of Christian nationalism

Two local churches differ in some ways, but their leaders agree on a controversial ideology that mixes Christianity and nationalism.

Recently, the Reverends Jesse Jackson and John Malget brought their congregations together for a joint worship service and spoke together from the pulpit about what they described as the dangers of Christian nationalism.

“It’s a political movement, and let’s face it, they’re taking advantage of Jesus for earthly gain,” Malget said during the June 23 service at East Sixth Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 1139 NE 6, where Jackson is senior pastor.

More: What is the state of Christian nationalism in our country?

First Christian Church of Oklahoma City (Disciples of Christ), where Malget is senior pastor, combined efforts with East Sixth Street for a series that included a Juneteenth-inspired Bible school that began on the holiday, June 19.

The two churches are located in different parts of Oklahoma City. Jackson’s congregation is in the northeast part of the city, while Malget’s congregation meets on its property at the corner of NW 23 and Walker Avenue. Jackson’s congregation is predominantly black, while Malget’s congregation is predominantly white.

Churches had condemned Christian nationalism in the past

But both churches are part of the international Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), which last year issued a statement condemning Christian nationalism. The denomination described Christian nationalism as “a cultural framework that fuses a radically exclusionary form of Christian identity with the public political and civic participation of a country’s citizens.”

The ideology has become a controversial topic in recent years, especially after the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Jackson, who is black, said he and Malget, who is white, have been friends for years and they have been talking for some time about merging their churches for joint services and other activities.

More: Christian denominations took a stand on issues such as transgender care, Christian nationalism

He said they chose Christian nationalism as the theme of their sermon because they wanted to convey to their congregations that this ideology was not Christian.

“I wish they would stop calling themselves ‘Christians,’ because they make the rest of us look bad,” Jackson said. “They are willing to be violent, as Jan. 6 showed, and that is the opposite of who Jesus is. The gospel of Jesus Christ is based on love, period. There is no asterisk. There is no semicolon.”

Jackson also disagreed with the Christian nationalist claim that Christians must expose certain rhetoric and take certain actions to defend Christianity in today’s world.

“Our faith does not need to be defended. Our faith needs to be lived,” he said. “People love God, they can’t stand us because we strive to be God’s ‘enforcers.’ In our efforts to do that, we have driven countless people away from the church and countless people away from God.”

“The gospel is a gift – it must never be used as a weapon”

Malget told church members that he had read a book called “The False White Gospel” and that he thought it was important for white Christians in particular to learn about the danger of Christian nationalism because this ideology is linked to white supremacy.

“We need to ask ourselves what kind of people we want to be, what kind of nation we want to be, but that question needs to be heard by people who look like me,” he said. “Somehow we’ve forgotten what my children learned from the movie ‘High School Musical’ – that we’re all in this together.”

Malget spoke about the Christian nationalism that arose in Nazi Germany and how many Christian leaders allowed the Nazis to commit atrocities against the Jews. He said that although Christian nationalism is currently stronger than ever, it does not reflect the teachings of Jesus.

“The gospel is a gift – it should never be used as a weapon,” he said.

Jackson told the assembled church audience that this would not be the last time they would hear about Christian nationalism from their pastors.

“This is not a one-time thing,” he said. “If we want to fight for the soul of Christianity, now is the time. God is doing something in this area.”

Several people in the pews said they enjoyed the time spent together between the two churches and felt the sermon focused on a timely issue.

“I love the unity and I love that that’s the message of the Disciples of Christ,” said Anthony Francisco, a member of East Sixth Street. “I just hope we keep going.”

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