The unholy marriage between conservative Christianity and the Republican Party has produced a petulant child, called Christian Nationalism. Although this isn’t the first attempt at Christian Nationalism in America, the current version appears to be the strongest of the bunch, leading the way for devastating environmental damages, a school shooting season, the subjugation of women, and the banning of books.

Christianity has a long history of harming others, from the Crusades to the Spanish Inquisition to the Salem witch hangings to over 6,000 indigenous children murdered in Canada’s forced-attendance Christian residential schools to more than a million children molested by clergy. Christian Nationalism is history eager to repeat itself.

I could write numerous essays on the dangers of Christian Nationalism, but since Banned Books Week (September 18-24) is upon us, I’m going to concentrate on the ideology’s abuse of literature. Political parties and ideologies with winning ideas don’t need to ban books. Christian Nationalism, however, features inferior ideas that can’t compete in the modern world without cheating. It’s as if its followers are saying, “God forbid if our children read about diverse ideas that open their eyes and . . .” gulp, “turn them into liberals!”

Disdain for education fits right in with banning books. After all, education usually involves reading. In Montana, Christian Nationalist Republican politicians know their ideas can’t compete in the domain of well-read college students, so they’ve tried to make it difficult for college students to vote. No wonder Republicans swooned when their demigod, Donald Trump, proclaimed, “I love the poorly educated!”

Marty Essen

Banned Books Week has a special meaning for me, because I’ve experienced a variation of book banning, called review bombing. This happens when like-minded people get together and attempt to tank books they find offensive by posting vicious one-star reviews on internet book sites. In most cases, review bombers haven’t read the book.

My books, which support human rights and the environment, have been called “bigoted,” “liberal idiocy,” and “left-wing propaganda.” Other one-star reviewers have simply posted “I have chosen not to read his book,” and “Trump 2020.” Review bombs are easy to recognize, because they often use similar wording and arrive in clusters. Fortunately, most book sites will remove review bombs, if they are reported.

With all that in mind, my question to the Christian Nationalist Republican Party is this: Why are you so afraid? If you must force your religion onto others, make it difficult for college students to vote, and prevent people from reading books that might open their minds, then, obviously, you’ve admitted that your values are too defective to survive without repression and deception.

But beware. Even people who you thought were on your side are giving you the side-eye. That church attendance in America plummeted to an all-time low during Trump’s presidency should be a warning to you: Americans are waking up.

Let’s celebrate Banned Books Week! Buy a controversial book and give it to a student.

Marty Essen is a multi-award-winning Montana author and frequently booked college speaker. His seventh and most controversial book, Doctor Refurb, will be published during Banned Books Week.