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  • Nate Adams

'God & Country' review: Compelling documentary explores the rise of Christian Nationalism



Courtesy of Oscilloscope

 

A documentary that’ll never be seen by the audience it’s intended for, the Rob Reiner produced “God & Country” puts a spotlight on an alarming, nationwide epidemic: Christian Nationalism. Directed by Dan Partland and featuring dozens of notorious figures within both the conservative and Christian movements, “God & Country” packs a lot into 89 minutes and serves as an appetizer to a much larger and complex issue, where fear mongering by the hard right and MAGA-pilled Americans have divided the country in ways previously unimaginable. Again, those who will actually seek out this movie won’t be shocked to learn of its revelations, but the movie still gets its point across and serves as a call to arms about the ramifications of what happens when we fail to separate church and state. It also showcases how the minority of far-right Christians have completely redefined what it means to be part of that denomination.  


A main focal point in “God & Country” and the connection to the rise of Christian Nationalism, of course, revolves around the rhetoric (and election) of former president Donald Trump and his appeal to White Evangelists who believed he was sent by Jesus himself to lead the country. The documentary draws parallels from several bible passages, notably the fall of Jericho, and how Trump followers loosely used that as justification for the January 6th insurrection, and backs up the statements with screenshots of online messaging boards and news clips of the past five years. Various scholars, historians, and reputable journalists are on hand to articulate on these matters too. 


“God & Country” does a solid job exposing this current trend and asks pressing questions about what it truly means to be a Christian in our current society. Is it about looking out for those in need? Or, in the case of the Charlottesville riots of 2017, being worried about the elaborate hoax that is the Great Replacement Theory? The documentary narrows down the pillars of the movement through important milestones in history: whether it be integration of the public school system or the civil rights marches, to offer sizable context into how far-right religious personalities of today are manipulating the facts and profiting off fear. 


Though the movie is filled with an array of interesting personalities (shout-out to the Veggietale creators), the biggest get is Rob Schneck, a former far-right clergyman who unloads juicy, behind-the-scenes tidbits about the Christian Nationalist playbook, including a mandate of only preaching sermons from the teachings of Gerhard Kittel, an enthusiastic Nazi supporter and antisemite. Elsewhere, conservative New York Times columnist David French is an engaging talking head and Sister Simone Campbell, a Catholic sister who is an attorney, recollects a heartbreaking story that helped change her views on abortion forever. 


Yet, for all this urgent information, “God & Country” can’t help but feel like it’s preaching to the choir and doesn’t really offer a solution to the problem. The people who are so deeply ingrained into the MAGA and Christian Nationalist culture will never change their minds and, even if they did see the film, would quickly label it as another liberal-backed movie pushing a “woke” agenda. Still, it’s an important subject and if you’re even remotely curious, you should see this movie immediately and then tell your friends to do the same. 


Grade: B 


GOD & COUNTRY opens in theaters Friday, February 16th. 


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