Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri gave a speech earlier in the week explaining what he views as the biblical foundations of American government.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is at the forefront of a dangerous, growing movement: White Christian nationalism is overtaking the Republican Party.  Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

“Without the Bible, there is no modernity,” Hawley told the National Conservatism Conference. “Without the Bible, there is no America.”

You can guess what came next: a confusing stew of inaccurate history, dubious theology and extreme hypocrisy that should worry every Missourian who believes in the separation of church and state.

Hawley’s views must be resisted, and his fumbling theocracy rejected. He’s at the forefront of a dangerous, growing movement: White Christian nationalism is overtaking the Republican Party, endangering religious freedom for everyone.

“We are a revolutionary nation precisely because we are heirs of the revolution of the Bible,” Hawley said. No. Our constitutional government, and therefore our nation, isn’t based on the Bible, or any religious text.

While most of the nation’s Founders generally believed in a creator, they were skeptics about the Bible’s potential influence on secular government. Many were deists who believed in a God who created free thought, and did not interfere in the affairs of men and women.


Revolutionary writer Thomas Paine attacked the Bible relentlessly. Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence, literally used a razor on the New Testament, taking out parts he thought were based on superstition or nonsense.

Hawley had more to say. The Bible “gave us equality between men and women,” he claimed. The biblical record is dubious – in Genesis, God says husbands should rule their wives. But it’s clear America’s Founders didn’t consider men and women politically equal at all. Women weren’t guaranteed the vote until the 20th century.

The Republican senator also said the Bible, and therefore the Constitution, enabled the “common man” to rule, and not a “clique or an elite.” The Founders were many things, but they were hardly representatives of the “common man.”

In his speech, Hawley called the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and riot – which he helped provoke – legitimate dissent, which insults the truth. He repeatedly referred to the “woke left” as elitists, which sounded strange coming from a man who went to Yale and Stanford.

Normally, we might reject these ideas as the ramblings of an arrogant, partisan senator. But imposing a biblical structure on American self-government is a real danger in our own time: Hawley and fellow travelers continuously seek to impose their beliefs on school curricula, equal rights, bodily autonomy and a host of other issues.

Roughly 90 percent of white evangelical Christians believe their faith is under assault. Many of them have responded by trying to impose their beliefs on everyone else.


Make no mistake: Americans have an absolute right to worship as they see fit, or not to worship at all. Their votes can reflect their religious beliefs, or purely secular concerns. We have no quarrel with faith, which has been the author of too many good deeds to count.

In fact, faith has been an integral part of America’s most important social movements. Martin Luther King Jr. was a minister. Yet he and others used their faith as moral guideposts for the nation, not as a blueprint for autocracy.

We oppose any attempt, by Josh Hawley or anyone else, to impose any religious framework on our government. Americans are free to think for themselves. That’s what the First Amendment guarantee of free religious exercise is all about.

In his speech, Hawley insulted that idea. That should worry all of us.


The Kansas City Star editorial board

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