How We Got Here: How Christian Nationalists Took Over the GOP | Crooked Media
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February 24, 2024
What A Day
How We Got Here: How Christian Nationalists Took Over the GOP

In This Episode

Republicans are coming after IVF? And no-fault divorce? This week, a Supreme Court ruling in Alabama and a new report from POLITICO unmasked an ascendant ideology taking over the Republican Party: Christian nationalism. Why does this ideology have Republicans waging war on public schools, failing marriages, and fertility clinics? And how did this movement go from the far fringes of the religious right to the center of the GOP? This week on How We Got Here, Offline’s Max Fisher and Hysteria’s Erin Ryan break down Christian nationalism’s origin as a reaction to school desegregation, how the ideology is spreading via “trad wife” TikTok trends, and why Donald Trump is embracing the ideology as part of his 2024 presidential campaign.




Max Fisher: So Erin, I kind of expected that the Republicans would come for voting rights. 


Erin Ryan: Yes. 


Max Fisher: And, you know, civil rights. 


Erin Ryan: Yes. 


Max Fisher: And abortion rights. 


Erin Ryan: Of course. 


Max Fisher: But I did not think that they would try to overturn the right to get divorced?


Erin Ryan: Oh, yeah. And it’s not just divorce they’re targeting. So two pretty wild things happened this week. First, the Alabama state Supreme Court ruled that frozen, fertilized embryos, microscopic bunches of undifferentiated cells are legally people just like me or you or Zendaya. [laughter] In vitro fertilization, which helps people conceive, involves retrieving and fertilizing several eggs and discarding the resulting embryos that are either non-viable or not implanted and carried to term. At least one IVF clinic in Alabama, actually the largest IVF clinic in Alabama, has already shut down. 


Max Fisher: Wow. 


Erin Ryan: Also this week, Politico reported that a think tank close to Trump is laying out a second term agenda that would include enshrining what it calls Christian nationalism. And a big figure in crafting that agenda has defined this as, among other things, banning no fault divorce, sex education in schools, and surrogacy. See? Republicans do care about women. [music break]


Max Fisher: I’m Max Fisher. 


Erin Ryan: And I’m Erin Ryan. 


Max Fisher: And this is How We Got Here, a new series where Erin and I explore a big question behind the week’s headlines and tell a story that answers that question. 


Erin Ryan: Our question this week, why does this newly dominant faction of the GOP want to go to war with surrogate mothers, sex ed teachers, fertility clinics, and the concept of divorce? 


Max Fisher: So the story I want to tell to answer this is about that movement that you mentioned, Erin. The rise of Christian nationalism from the fringes of the religious right to now, just in the last couple of years, dominance of the Republican Party. 


Erin Ryan: Even in the most doom and gloom scenarios laid out by dejected Hillary Clinton voters on the day after the 2016 election. Not that I would know uh not many people were sounding the alarm that Republicans wanted to come for divorce or IVF, but here we are. 


Max Fisher: And these are not just little culture war flourishes. They are part of a big unified movement, a movement with a name and with followers with deep pockets. And if you look at what they’re proposing, this is all just a first step toward what they intend to be a radical transformation of American family and private life. 


Erin Ryan: Okay, Max, before we dive in, can you just define Christian nationalism for us? 


Max Fisher: So generally, it’s understood to refer to the belief that the United States should be formally redefined as a state of and for Christians, there would be no separation of church and state. All public institutions would exist to further Christian principles, and the Bible or interpretations of the Bible would prevail over regular secular law. 


Erin Ryan: Okay, it sounds a lot like something that rhymes with spatriarchy, but politically, where does the movement come from? 


Max Fisher: So it’s definitely that. But it also has these very uh particular obsessions and goals that developed gradually over time in reaction to a handful of big moments in American life. Um. The earliest you could probably pin it would be this famous speech by Billy Graham. 


Erin Ryan: That’s Billy Graham, the wildly influential evangelical leader. 


Max Fisher: Right. A speech by Billy Graham that he gave pretty early in his career in 1952 about the Cold War. 


[clip of Billy Graham] I believe today that the battle is between communism and Christianity. And I believe the only way that we’re going to win that battle is for America to turn back to God and back to Christ and back to the Bible at this hour, we need a revival. 


Erin Ryan: That sounds pretty familiar, though. The idea that America’s enemies are also enemies of Jesus. And of course, I remember George W. Bush saying that God told him to invade Iraq, which God would never do, since that’s where we invented him. [laughter]


Max Fisher: Well, but this is where all that comes from. Billy Graham with this speech convinces a big subset of American evangelicals that there’s this divine struggle between secular politics and Christian politics for the future of humanity. And it’s not a far jump to see that struggle as extending from the Cold War to the moral enemies at home too. 


Erin Ryan: Okay, so who are these enemies at home? 


Max Fisher: Okay, so not long after Graham’s speech, there are these two big radicalizing events back to back. The first is that in 1962, the Supreme Court banned school prayer. And this was really destabilizing for evangelicals, especially. 


Erin Ryan: Well, Billy Graham just told them that America was God’s crusader on earth. And now that same America is barring their kids from organized prayer in school. 


Max Fisher: Right. It felt to them, like their identity, America’s rightful Christian identity, was under attack by another godless enemy, the federal government. 


Erin Ryan: Well, and not to jump ahead too much, but this entire parental rights movement that you see today, mobbing school board meetings and trying to defund public schools. 


Max Fisher: Oh, yeah. 


Erin Ryan: Yeah, it’s all this sense that public institutions have been captured by secular liberals who want to destroy the, quote unquote, “real American identity of Christian conservatives,” which centers around the nuclear family, which is always headed by a man. In other words, they see it as a struggle between the state and Christian men over who has final authority. Okay, so the end of school prayer. What was the other big radicalizing event? 


Max Fisher: So for this, I talked to a woman named Julie Ingersoll. She’s a professor of religious studies at the University of North Florida and an expert on this movement. And what she said surprised me. She said it was a reaction against school desegregation in the ’50s and ’60s. 


[clip of Julie Ingersoll] There were a whole lot of people who wanted their kids, their white kids, out of the context of public schools where there were going to be Black kids. They didn’t want to say that. And when a whole movement came along with a biblical argument that public education is actually anti biblical, which is what these folks argue, that that it’s not within the purview of the authority of the state to run education. That’s a family responsibility and therefore it’s unbiblical. They coincided the efforts to desegregate public schools and the effort to build an alternative education system to replace public schools to transform the culture and terms of a certain version of Christianity, coincided with each other in a way that was very effective for the critique of public schools and the rise of Christian schools. 


Erin Ryan: Wow. America just cannot quit racism. You know, like in Forrest Gump, when Forrest Gump is in all those histori– I feel like every historic event in American history, there’s racism. 


Max Fisher: Racism is the Forrest Gump. 


Erin Ryan: Yes. And in the blurry in the background or very prominent in the foreground. Racism is there. 


Max Fisher: Racism is always running. Um. Well, so all of this like this backlash and the sense of Cold War crusade, it all kind of swirls together into this belief that white Christian conservatives are the real Americans, and their rightful place on top is under attack. And now the great enemy of American Christendom isn’t global communism anymore. It’s the state and the schools and the courts. 


Erin Ryan: Yeah, and it’s also the people that operate outside of the white, patriarchal nuclear family structure. So LGBTQ people, single mothers, women who have sex outside of marriage. So the state is doing things like passing civil rights laws or enabling access to contraception that make it easier to live outside of that structure. And that’s a threat to its dominance. 


Max Fisher: Oh, yeah. So their new crusade isn’t to win the Cold War. It’s a battle against all this social change happening in America and against the liberal secular state they see as carrying it out. 


Erin Ryan: Ah yes, culture wars as holy wars. So then another two big Supreme Court rulings deepened that sense that the white, patriarchal nuclear family structure is losing its dominance over American life. In Griswold versus Connecticut in 1964, the Supreme Court ruled that the government can’t bar women from accessing contraception. This marked a huge shift in American culture. It brought down the stakes on the act of sex. Its impact on women’s freedom, and by extension, the, quote, “traditional American family” was seismic. And then in 1973, the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v Wade. It didn’t become a political flashpoint until a few years later, when Reagan and the evangelical right rallied against it. And ever since, a driving force behind American conservatism has been returning power over the female body back to men, where it belonged. 


Max Fisher: Right. But we’re trying to understand more than just the American right broadly here. Right. We’re looking for the genesis of this very specific movement within it, Christian nationalism. So all of this cultural backlash is kind of the petri dish. And it’s around this point in history that you start to see the first buds of something more than just cultural conservatism or evangelical backlash. It’s that old Billy Graham mandate for a crusade, but now focused on all these agents of cultural change. 


Erin Ryan: Yeah, like I still remember the first time I saw that Pat Robertson quote from 1992, uh feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians. I’ve only done like three things on that list. Uh. I thought it was a joke. I had to I had to look it up. 


Max Fisher: It sounds sick honestly. 


Erin Ryan: It sounds super fun. 


Max Fisher: Um. So. Okay, so at this point, the evangelical and Christian conservative movements want to roll back the clock, but for the most part, the mainstream GOP is not going like full theocracy. The thing we call Christian nationalism really starts to emerge after September 11th. There’s this wave of Islamophobia across the country, and it gets championed by some, not all, but definitely some evangelical leaders who tell people that Christians are under like imminent real physical, existential threat from within. 


Erin Ryan: I remember this well, people really were convinced that liberals and Muslims were in a league to literally bring about Sharia law. 


Max Fisher: It’s hard to it’s hard to convey to people who were not there how crazy America got. 


Erin Ryan: It it was literally bonkers. And looking back on it now, it’s it’s the Trump era seems nuts. And it is, it will always have been nuts. But this Iraq War era paranoia was a different flavor of nuts. 


Max Fisher: Right and a flavor that became the thing that is now with us. So like, I know it feels like so long ago. But Trump, of course, rose on his promise to fight against that made up threat on behalf of the, you know, white Christian, real Americans. And he basically presents himself as whether he realizes he’s doing it or not, taking up that crusade against seculars, and minorities in the courts and social progress, then Christian nationalists believe they have been losing for 50 years. 


Erin Ryan: There is a statistic that I think helped explain why, of all the ideological strains in Trumpism, it’s the Christian nationalist component that’s really asserting itself now. In 1999, 70% of Americans belonged to a house of worship. By 2020, that had fallen to 47%. 


Max Fisher: Wow. 


Erin Ryan: A 2023 poll found that 30% of Americans claim no religious affiliation, which is an eight point jump from just two years prior. 


Max Fisher: Two years? 


Erin Ryan: Yes. So Christians in America are no longer the majority. And they know their numbers are shrinking. Now, obviously, most religiously observant people do not respond to their faith becoming less popular by becoming deranged theocrats. 


Max Fisher: Right. We’re not talking about all Christians here, not talking about all religious people. 


Erin Ryan: Hashtag, not all Christians. But if you’re a white conservative who already believes that your country is being taken away, then this feels like the godless seculars the women, the gays, the non-whites are winning the war on America’s Christian identity too. 


Max Fisher: So the think tank that we mentioned at the start of the show, the one that’s laying out this agenda for Trump’s second term, is called the Center for Renewing America. I don’t know where they get these names. It’s like they have a big like, bingo wheel that they turn– 


Erin Ryan: ChatGPT. 


Max Fisher: –to pull out random words. Yeah, it’s ChatGPT. Yeah. Um. A lot of the things that they want are not obviously linked to Christianity, like restricting legal immigration or dismantling federal agencies. And that, to me is really telling, really embodies how Christian nationalism has come to mean more than just writing Christian morality into law. It’s come to stand for this like holy war to put women, minorities, LGBTQ people, and secular people back in their place and to put white Christian men back on top, at least according to their imagined pasts of you know, great white Christian male utopian dominance. 


Erin Ryan: Absolutely. And there’s this group called Project 2025, another ChatGPT name, [laughter] that’s linked to the Center for Renewing America. And a line in the Project 2025 manifesto, which is scary ass reading. 


Max Fisher: Yeah. 


Erin Ryan: If you’ve ever read–


Max Fisher: It’s rough. 


Erin Ryan: –Stephen King’s The Stand and you were like, not scary enough, you might want to read Project 2025. There’s a line in it that spells it out, quote, “freedom is defined by God, not man.” 


Max Fisher: Wow. And that that’s kind of become the core of this thing we now call Christian nationalism. It’s really a promise for authoritarianism on behalf of white, conservative Christians who see themselves as both a persecuted minority and America’s rightful dominant group. Um. So Julie Ingersoll, the religious studies professor who we talked to, really emphasized this when I asked her about the Alabama state Supreme Court decision that banned IVF by characterizing frozen embryos as people. 


[clip of Julie Ingersoll] Well, I think that theocrats that were discussing see a patriarchal family as a basic organizing, building block of society and policies and practices that undermine that and provide options for women to make different life choices are a threat to how they want society to be organized. 


Erin Ryan: And this movement to forcibly impose certain social hierarchies is behind the desire to ban no fault divorce, too. I have to say, when Trump was elected, I was one of the Cassandras running around with my hair on fire and warning that this would spell the eventual end to not just abortion, but also birth control and fertility treatments. But I did not see it coming that a man who has been divorced twice would usher in a politically formidable backlash to no fault divorce. [music break]




Max Fisher: Can you actually explain that? Like the no fault divorce and why that, of all things, is in the crosshairs now? 


Erin Ryan: Sure. Before no fault divorce was signed into law in California in 1969 by a certain governor named Ronald Reagan. 


Max Fisher: I’ve heard of him. 


Erin Ryan: Woke hero. [laughter] Uh. If a couple wanted to dissolve their marriage, one party had to demonstrate that they’d been wronged by the other party. That meant proving abandonment, cruelty, bigamy, adultery, impotence or domestic violence. 


Max Fisher: Bigamy. 


Erin Ryan: Bigamy. This led to what I’m going to classify as madcap shenanigans between couples who would falsify spousal wrongdoing in order to break up. 


Max Fisher: Whoa. 


Erin Ryan: For example, having one half of the couple photographed pretending to have an affair with a third party the couple had hired to prove adultery. 


Max Fisher: It’s kind of a fun way to go out honestly. 


Erin Ryan: That is madcap shenanigans. 


Max Fisher: It’s fun that you get to share that little adventure as a way, as a kind of denouement for your marriage. 


Erin Ryan: It would be. It would make a great screwball comedy. Uh. The entire economy of Reno, Nevada once centered on women moving to town to establish residency so that they could be granted a quickie Nevada divorce. 


Max Fisher: Okay, but why would a religious nationalist movement be so outraged by this? 


Erin Ryan: No fault divorce was another way that women gained a modicum of power by making it easier to leave unhappy or abusive marriages. Now, somewhere between 60 and 80% of divorces in the US are initiated by women. 


Max Fisher: Oh huh. 


Erin Ryan: Depending on who you ask. One study found that as different states legalized no fault divorce, the female suicide rates in those states would drop by an average of 20%. 


Max Fisher: Wow. 


Erin Ryan: Yeah, there was a lot of hand-wringing in the 1980s and ’90s about how divorce was tearing the American family apart, but in fact, the American family was kind of a nightmare for a lot of women trapped inside it. 


Max Fisher: Oh, I see. So the old way of doing divorce meant that the husband had to consent and could withhold that consent to lock their wives into unhappy marriages, which these numbers suggest they were doing at a huge scale. 


Erin Ryan: Exactly. Or drag his wife to court and she would have to prove things and and just it’s a lot to put somebody through, especially if they’re being subject to cruel or inhumane treatment. And that’s why the far right hates it when it’s easy to divorce. In places like Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and Nebraska in the last year, conservatives have been floating the idea of eliminating no fault divorce. 


Max Fisher: Wow. 


Erin Ryan: And several influential right wing gadflys have seized on the cause. I’m not going to name them because they’re annoying. They’ve decided that the party to blame for the destruction of the American family is the woman who chooses to leave her shitty husband, not the husband, for being shitty in the first place. 


Max Fisher: Okay, but even in their wildest John McNaughton illustrated dreams, no fault divorce isn’t really going to be eliminated in the near term, right? 


Erin Ryan: No. Probably not. No fault divorce is is really, really popular. 


Max Fisher: I see why. 


Erin Ryan: But Christian nationalists are trying another tack by introducing a new type of marriage that makes it harder for people to divorce by design. 


Max Fisher: A new marriage dropped. 


Erin Ryan: Yes, it’s called covenant marriage. And in places like Louisiana, Arkansas, and Arizona, couples can already opt into it. 


Max Fisher: I am almost afraid to ask, but what is a covenant marriage? 


Erin Ryan: Couples opt into it to eliminate the possibility of no fault divorce for themselves. They agree to premarital counseling and to narrowed acceptable parameters for divorce. It’s not very popular. 


Max Fisher: I see why. 


Erin Ryan: In the States where it’s an option fewer than 1% of couples have opted in. But at least one famous person has, speaker of the House Mike Johnson. 


Max Fisher: Ah. Yes. Mike Johnson, who swears that he’s not a Christian nationalist but has a flag in his office with the phrase, appeal to heaven, that is widely considered a Christian nationalist motto. That guy? 


Erin Ryan: Mm hmm. Yup. That guy. 


Max Fisher: The guy who compared himself to Moses at a dinner where he thought there’d be no press?


Erin Ryan: Yep. 


Max Fisher: The guy who wrote the amicus brief for the losing side in Lawrence v Texas, the Supreme Court case that legalized same sex relationships? That one? That Mike Johnson?


Erin Ryan: Yeah, the very same. The speaker of the House, if not a full throated theocrat, is at least incredibly flirty with Christian nationalism. It is the it’s–


Max Fisher: Well how can you not be flirty with Christian nationalism? 


Erin Ryan: It’s the Pam to his Jim. Will they or won’t they? Probably by season three, they will. 


Max Fisher: Like you said earlier, Christian nationalism is also behind in some ways, the current parental rights movement, too. The schools are portrayed as corrupting secular institutions, intruding on the rightful social order. And the answer is to take over the schools, or even to just completely defund them in favor of unregulated home schooling. 


Erin Ryan: Yeah, it’s already happening, too. And do you know why child care is so expensive in the allegedly pro-family state of Utah? 


Max Fisher: Uh. Why? 


Erin Ryan: Because there’s a belief among certain conservative state lawmakers that women should not need daycare. 


Max Fisher: Hmm. 


Erin Ryan: They should be staying home. They should be looking after the kids. They should be cooking and cleaning. They should not have a job. 


Max Fisher: Oh. 


Erin Ryan: And without access to birth control or abortion care, the assumption is that they’d be looking after a lot of kids. You kind of have to wonder if this is part of why initiatives like universal childcare or paid parental leave, which poll incredibly well nationally. 


Max Fisher: Yeah. 


Erin Ryan: Across the political spectrum, nonetheless keep failing at the federal level too. 


Max Fisher: So that is what confuses me about the opposition to in-vitro fertilization. It’s literally a fertility treatment to help women have more babies. 


Erin Ryan: Yeah, but is it the right type of women? 


Max Fisher: Oh. 


Erin Ryan: Okay, let’s revisit the Alabama Supreme Court ruling from earlier this week. The court ruled that for the purposes of liability, destroying a human embryo is the same thing as murdering a baby. 


Max Fisher: Yikes. 


Erin Ryan: It is absurd on its face. And it yeah you’re right, it’s a big yikes. But there are a couple of reasons that IVF is next in the crosshairs. One is that conservatives are coming for birth control. They’ve been very open about this, and in order to chip away at contraception access, they’ll need to legally define human life as beginning at the moment of conception. Because some contraception works by interfering with the implantation of a fertilized egg. 


Max Fisher: Oh I see. 


Erin Ryan: So if a blastocyst is a child, Mirena is murder. 


Max Fisher: Right. 


Erin Ryan: IVF might just be collateral damage. 


Max Fisher: Okay. And IVF, of course, can also help people who exist outside of that idealized Christian family structure in order to have kids like older moms, women becoming single moms by choice, LGBTQ couples. And it’s also used by cancer patients who want to have kids later on. 


Erin Ryan: Yeah. Take that cancer patients. 


Max Fisher: Ugh. 


Erin Ryan: More collateral damage in the battle to take away birth control. Of course, it’s impolitic to say you want to do this, to reimpose men’s control over women’s bodies. So you get things like this Heritage Foundation speaker arguing that taking away birth control is feminist, actually. 


[clip of Heritage Foundation speaker] It seems to me that a good place to start would be a the feminist a feminist movement against the pill. And for rewilding sex, returning the danger to sex, returning the intimacy and and really the consequentiality to sex. And a great deal follows from an intentional reconnection of women’s opting intentionally to reconnect with the fullness of our embodied nature. 


Max Fisher: Did she say rewilding sex? Did I hear that correctly? 


Erin Ryan: Yes. Rewilding sex. Not that women have been using contraception and abortion for the entire history of human civilization. 


Max Fisher: [?]


Max Fisher: Whatever. [laughter] Even Nikki Haley, who has tried to present herself as a moderate on abortion, told an interviewer this week that she too believes that frozen embryos are human children. 


[clip of Nikki Haley] I mean embryos to me are babies. So I– 


[clip of unidentified interviewer] Even those created through IVF? 


[clip of Nikki Haley] I mean, I had artificial insemination. 


[clip of unidentified interviewer] Yeah. 


[clip of Nikki Haley] That’s how I had my son. So when you look at, you know, one thing is to have um to save sperm or to save eggs. But when you talk about an embryo, you are talking about, to me, um that’s a life. 


Max Fisher: So I would really like to write all this off as, like, nutty fringe stuff that has no chance of becoming law. Uh. But a survey last year found that 21% of self-identified Republicans now adhere to the core principles of Christian nationalism, even if they don’t call themselves that. And another 33% are sympathetic to those principles. 


Erin Ryan: And the sort of Christian nationalist ethos is trickling into mainstream culture, too. If you go on TikTok lately, you’ll see all these videos of what’s called trad wife content. 


Max Fisher: Oh yeah I’ve heard of this.


Erin Ryan: Which depicts the life of a stay at home mom as one of leisure and ease. Usually a beautiful, skinny white woman with perfectly well-behaved, clean children doing things that most stay at home moms rarely have time to do, like making bread from scratch. 


Max Fisher: Can we uh, can we hear one? 


Erin Ryan: Brace yourself. 


[clip of TikTok trad wife content] So prep my man’s lunch with me. I’m going to show you guys a great tuna pasta salad recipe. That’s what he’s getting. And a piece of pumpkin bread. I made it yesterday. It’s on my channel as well. So let’s get cooking. 


Max Fisher: So the the promise of Christian nationalism is give up all your rights, but you get a tuna sandwich? Is this what we’re– [laugh] 


Erin Ryan: You get a tuna no you get a tuna salad and pumpkin bread. Everybody knows pumpkin and tuna go great together. [laughter] I hope she’s got an ice pack for that lunchbox, because her man is about to get a stomach bug. [laughter] The message is that quitting the workforce is not the economically treacherous decision that study after study has shown it is. And actually that spending all day, every day taking care of children is automatically the most fulfilling thing any woman could be doing with her body and her brain. Enforced female subservience is an important tenet of Christian nationalism, and these TikTok creators, whether they realize it or not, are just a new soft power avenue to promote it. 


Max Fisher: Well, and your now hearing, prominent Republicans just call themselves Christian nationalists now, like, here is our pal, friend of the show, Marjorie Taylor Greene, [laughter] a couple of years ago. 


[clip of Marjorie Taylor Greene] We need to be the party of nationalism. And I’m a Christian and I say it proudly we should be Christian nationalists. And when Republicans learn to represent most of the people that vote for them, then we will be the party that continues to grow without having to chase down certain identities or chase down uh, you know, certain segments of people. 


Max Fisher: So Trump has clearly picked up on all of this and in a way that he really was not in 2016 or even in 2020, is really now bending himself to the winds of Christian nationalism and bending himself to its influence within the party. Um. Here he is at a rally in Iowa in December. 


[clip of Donald Trump] Upon taking office, I will create a new federal task force on fighting anti-Christian bias to be led by a fully reformed Department of Justice that’s fair and equitable. It’s mission will be to investigate all forms of illegal discrimination, harassment, and persecution against Christians in America. They are going after Christians in America, whose who can believe all this stuff? 


Erin Ryan: Oh, you love. God you love the Bible so much. Name five books. Name name five books in the Bible and they can’t be the New Testament like ones named after the [?]–


Max Fisher: I was going to say old one and new one. 


Erin Ryan: [laugh] No, those are just sections. See, again–


Max Fisher: Well I, you’re the Christian nationalist here so. 


Erin Ryan: [laughing] So all of this really clarifies how a serial philandering, clearly non-believing Trump can become the standard bearer for Christian nationalism and why you see right wing evangelical leaders praising him as leading America in a great religious struggle against the forces of evil, and why so many of the January 6th rioters waved like placards of Jesus wearing a MAGA hat. 


Max Fisher: Yeah, it makes sense of a lot in retrospect. And it’s not that these people’s religious beliefs are insincere. It’s that this movement has kind of infused this besieged, crusading, holy war American Christianity with also a very deep hatred of social progress and a desire to overturn it. And if Trump delivers on that, then to them he must be a holy man. 


Erin Ryan: Okay, well, it’s not your imagination and it’s not an accident. There really are a lot of seriously retrograde things happening right now. 


Max Fisher: Yeah. 


Erin Ryan: And they’re the culmination of a decades long movement, which is now a powerful and, well, moneyed group that believes God has chosen them to control the future of this country, whether this country actually wants any of it or not. It’s not a hypothetical future scenario. Christian nationalism has become the driving political force of one of our two major political parties today, and they’re already getting some real victories on the state level. 


Max Fisher: Look. I’m a go along, get along kind of guy. So I think I’m just going to lean into it. I’m going to pull up TikTok and I think I’m just going to go trad wife. 


Erin Ryan: You’re going to go trad wife!


Max Fisher: I, you know what? If that’s the future, I would rather fit in. I’m a conformist ultimately.


Erin Ryan: [?] I think you’re actually a boat rocker. Boys can be trad wives, too. 


Max Fisher: [laughter] I’m bringing uh gender equality to the trad wife movement. Do you have any uh any tips for me? Anything I should check out? 


Erin Ryan: Let’s throw to TikTok to find more. 


[clip of TikTok trad wife content] It’s a naive sort of feminism that insists that woman prove their ability to do all the things that men do. This is a distortion and a travesty. Men have never sought to prove that they can do all the things women do. Why subject woman to purely masculine criteria? Women can and ought to be judged by the criteria of femininity, for it is in their femininity that they participate in the human race. And femininity has its limitations. So has masculinity. [music break]


Max Fisher: What a Day’s How We Got Here is a Crooked Media production. It’s written and hosted by me, Max Fisher, and by Erin Ryan. Our producer is Austin Fisher. Emma Illick-Frank is our associate producer. Evan Sutton is our sound editor. Kyle Seglin, Charlotte Landes, and Vasilis Fotopoulos sound engineered the show. Production support from Leo Sussan, Itxy Quintanilla, Raven Yamamoto, Natalie Bettendorf, and Adriene Hill. And special thanks to What a Day hosts Tre’vell Anderson, Priyanka Aribindi, Josie Duffy Rice, and Juanita Tolliver for welcoming us to the family.