Hear the call to overcome today’s culture of hate and bring healing and hope into our life together. While right-wing conservatives dare to call themselves Christians as they tear down equality and justice, commit horrific acts of violence, and fan the flames of fascism in America, Carter Heyward issues a call to action for Christians to truly hear God’s message of peace and love.
Heyward shows how American Christians have played a major role in building and securing structures of injustice in American life. Rising tides of white supremacy, threats to women’s reproductive freedoms and to basic human rights for gender and sexual minorities, the widening divide between rich and poor, and increasing natural disasters and the extinction of Earth’s species--all point to a world crying out for God’s wisdom.
Followers of Jesus must first call out these ingrained and sinful attitudes for what they are, acknowledging what the culture of white Christian nationalism is doing to our country and our world, and commit ourselves ever more fully to generating justice-love, whoever and wherever we are.
Carter Heyward is an American feminist theologian and priest in the Episcopal Church, the province of the worldwide Anglican Communion in the United States. In 1974, she was one of the Philadelphia Eleven, eleven women whose ordinations eventually paved the way for the recognition of women as priests in the Episcopal Church in 1976. Heyward is the author of some eleven books and has edited / contributed to a further three. Her most recent books are Tears of Christopena: Mystical Musings on Grief, Evil, and Godding and She Flies On: A White Christian Debutante Wakes Up. She lives the North Carolina mountains south of Asheville.
Part I: In the Beginning
Chapter 1: Why This Book?
Chapter 2: What is White Christian Nationalism?
Part II: The Seven Deadly Sins
Chapter 3: Sin as Our Collective Problem
Chapter 4: The First Sin: The Lust for Omnipotence
Chapter 5: The Second Sin: Entitlement
Chapter 6: The Third Sin: White Supremacy
Chapter 7: The Fourth Sin: Misogyny
Chapter 8: The Fifth Sin: Capitalist Spirituality
Chapter 9: The Sixth Sin: Domination of the Earth and Its Creatures
Chapter 10: The Seventh Sin: Violence
Part III: A Call to Action
Chapter 11: Questions and Call
Chapter 12: The First Call: Into Sharing Power-With One Another
Chapter 13: The Second Call: Into Humility
Chapter 14: The Third Call: Into the Blackness of God
Chapter 15: The Fourth Call: Into Empowering Women, Celebrating Sexuality, and Affirming Gender Diversity
Chapter 16: The Fifth Call: Transforming Capitalism
Chapter 17: The Sixth Call: Belonging with Earth and Animals
Chapter 18: The Seventh Call: To Break the Spiral of Violence
Resources and Bibliography
American feminist theologian and Episcopal priest Carter Heywood is one of 11 women whose ordination led to allowing women into the priesthood in the Episcopal Church in 1976. Here she analyzes the current political divide and accompanying violence in the US, arguing that both are grounded in the founding of the US as a presumed “white, Christian nation” controlled by wealthy white men. Heywood traces the paths by which this assumption continues to inform politics, economics, social structures, and values. She views this influence as a threat to American democracy and a challenge to an alternative vision of the US as an inclusive, diverse society that supports “liberty and justice for all.” She lists seven sins that make white Christian nationalism so destructive and deems the most dangerous to be the presumption of omnipotence—the desire to have total power and control, leading to replacing democracy with theocracy (a dictatorship claiming to be ordained by a white God). The result is a politics of domination: men over women, whites over Blacks and BIPOC, humans over nature and nonhuman animals. She calls for action grounded in humility; in respect for all persons, the natural world, and animals; and loving nonviolence. Highly recommended.
Writing as a politically progressive white Christian American woman and a lesbian feminist theologian, author and Episcopal priest Heyward defines her audience for this book as being white Protestant Christians who are moderate to progressive in their politics and spirituality. To them she offers her take on what she calls the seven deadly sins of white Christian nationalism (“a movement spawned by white Christian Americans [men] to superimpose their conservative religious values on the leaders and laws of the United States of America”): the lust for omnipotence; entitlement; white supremacy; misogyny; capitalist spirituality; domination of the earth and its creatures; and violence. Readers will decide for themselves which sins are the most grievous, and will be helped by the book's third part, intended to encourage Christians to think about what they can do. Chapter-ending discussion questions may provoke heated debate, since the author is a resolute liberal and provocateur—which makes this book an unqualifiedly exciting read.
What's most impressive about this book is Carter Heyward’s ability to document and expose—without mincing words—White Christian nationalism as our country’s true original sin. Heyward never shouts in this lucid and timely book.
Carter Heyward’s books are all works of consequence. But this one stands out as the harvest of a lifetime of wisdom. There is extraordinary historical depth (the sins of white Christian nationalism go way back) that is matched to corresponding breadth (the full range of our corporate lives) and a probing exposition of biblical and Christian faith. Not least, she offers action-focused responses to each deadly sin. I’m already making a list of those I will give this book as an urgent read.
Carter Heyward sounds the alarm. Seven deadly sins are leading us down the road to “Christofascism,” the dangerous merging of right-wing Christianity and autocracy. But fear not, those who have been brutalized by narrow, individualistic views of sin. These seven deadly sins are those of white supremacy, misogyny or the lust for omnipotence and the like and they are set in their true context. But Heyward does not leave you with just the theological diagnosis. The latter part of the book gives the tools we need to help stop it. An absolute tour de force!
Progressive theologian Carter Heyward is as fearless as she is brilliant in naming how our body politic is in political, moral, and spiritual crisis. May her sound advice be heeded before it’s too late.
A big thank-you to Carter Heyward, for this brave and incisive illumination of the historical roots and moral “sins” of contemporary Christian nationalism.
[The Seven Deadly Sins of White Christian Nationalism] is a timely and detailed analysis of white Christian Nationalism…. This book would be beneficial to UCC conference churches to process for handling the movement towards authoritarianism and antidemocracy, educational concerns, gun-violence and other forms, racial justice, climate justice, internalized misogyny and homophobia/transphobia, and the many issues that face our churches today.
8/24/22, Publishers Weekly: Carter Heyward and the book were featured in this fall religion/spirituality book preview.
4/5/23, WATER (Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual): Video of Carter Heyward’s talk about the book has been posted.
8/24/23, Choice Reviews: This title was featured in a roundup of August 2023 top 75 community college titles.