‘God & Country’ Review: The Defining Documentary About Christian Nationalism

Kenny Miles reviews God & Country, a doc making a clear and forceful case against the influences and threats to American Christian nationalism.

The documentary God & Country, directed by Dan Partland and produced by Rob Reiner, couldn’t come at a more urgent time for America, with Christian Nationalism not going away and only accelerating in the run-up to the 2024 Presidential election. We are witnessing a political movement that twists scripture, and this documentary frames the debate with simple but effective communication.

Confession: I am a devout Christian and a huge fan of “The Holy Post” podcast. Two of its co-hosts, Phil Vischer and Skye Jethani, are featured as talking heads. They dig deep into the theological and cultural implications of Christianity in America and the world. In God & Country, they provide valuable insight into these topics and help the documentary further the case. They talked about how if democracy gets in the way of what is perceived as God’s will, then members of the movement will get rid of it.

While watching God & Country, my biggest takeaways included the poignant observation about Christians justifying their political ideology from Bible verses (paraphrased): “So loud with what is little said and so quiet on what it says so much about.” It reminds me of an American culture where little things become big deals, and the real big deals don’t matter. Also, the blasphemous idea that God ordains injustice when “His will” is manifested through the authoritarian impulses of Christian Nationalism made my skin crawl.

I respected the perspective of a few moderate to conservative talking heads, even as a liberal, from The Dispatch writer David French and Christianity Today Russell Moore, who clearly separated patriotism and nationalism and had a more traditional view of scripture. It is harder to dismiss the concerns of Christian Nationalism when multiple conservatives are against it. What makes the documentary effective is how it approaches the topic from conservatives and not as much with the left (thought represented in other people) as I expected.

It is easy to dismiss criticism from the other side. Still, listening to people you agree with is tough and can feel like a betrayal from your tribe. I found it reassuring as someone who attends a charismatic church in Denver. Having multiple perspectives risks not having a vibrant, niche audience to make this a minor hit, but it presents the truth critically. God & Country is almost for devout and slightly conservative (not right-wing), moderate, and liberal Christians. This thin line requires wisdom and nuance. Our political culture needs the discernment and patience to do so.

The left is well represented to counterbalance this, with Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, Reza Aslan, and the great Anthea Butler providing commentary. I was struck by the montage of clips of a liberal Christian rally compared to the MAGA events. The former are very diverse attendees but not as well attended. It is very noticeable that Christian Nationalism will hurt. These are two different worlds in America.

The consistent clips of people misquoting scripture show how biblically illiterate this Christian nationalist movement is. It was too much to handle, but it shows where they came from. The origins of politically active conservative Christians originated from racial segregation at schools and tax-exempt status around the 70s and not abortion, though both issues were topical during that decade. One inserts one’s values into scripture, and people will justify anything their perspectives and prejudices. We are at a scary moment in US history because of prophecy masquerading as a conspiracy with a call to arms Jericho March on the Capitol on January 6th.

The intermingling of conservatism and Christianity is on full display in God & Country, and the documentary highlights how the church can be “outflanked” by better storytellers to make money with small-dollar contributions, give into fear and anger, two aspects not a part of the fruits of the spirit. As the doc points out, making people mad as hell is an industry. Pluralism is viewed as a weakness, but it is an American value.

“Jesus and John Wayne” author Kristin Kobes Du Mez revealed how she studied the German Christian movement and uncovered how they thought Hitler was a gift to Germany and a miracle from God and how his theologian Gerhard Kittel justified genocide against the Jewish people. Despite how his theological dictionary of the New Testament was studied, it shows how systematic this thinking is in American Christianity.

God & Country makes a clear and forceful case against the influences and threats to Christian nationalism; consider this choir member preached, too. I hope others see this documentary and learn more about this topic.

God & Country is now playing in select theaters and will be available on VOD starting March 26th.

Written by
Kenny admired film criticism as a child when his mother wrote a positive review of Home Alone in his small town Arkansas newspaper and defended it against angry Letters to the Editor. Kenny Miles loves to talk about movies especially the cultural impact of a film, if something is overlooked by Hollywood, or whatever business trend has captured the Entertainment Industry’s attention, specialty releases, an auteur director, a unique premise, branding, and THE much infamous "awards season." Kenny currently lives in Denver, Colorado and is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society critics group. When he isn’t writing, Kenny channels his passion working as an events marketing coordinator. He spends many Friday nights exit polling for CinemaScore (and his opinions are his own).

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