Religious Studies Professor to Speak about Christian Nationalism

Written by Sullivan

May 8, 2023

University of San Francisco Professor Bradley Onishi to Speak on Christian Nationalism in America on May 5 at Cal Poly. Photo submitted

The attack on the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, shocked the nation and the world. But one religious studies professor argues that for those who have lived through white Christian nationalism, the insurrection was the logical outcome of a 75-year war on American democracy.  

Author and University of San Francisco Professor Bradley Onishi will explore the rise of Christian nationalism in contemporary America and its potential destructive course on Friday, May 5. The event, which is free and open to the public, takes place from 3:30 – 5 p.m. in Philips Hall in the Performing Arts Center, Room 124.  

“Bradley Onishi is one of the leading thinkers on one of the most important topics shaping American culture today,” said Cal Poly religious studies Professor Stephen Lloyd-Moffett. “His insights stem not just from his rigorous academic research but from growing up within the movement.” 

After growing up in a non-religious home in Southern California, Onishi converted to evangelicalism at a megachurch in his hometown at age 14. By 20, he was married and in charge of a 200-student youth group. After serving seven years in ministry, he decided to pursue a master’s in theology at Oxford University. Soon after arriving in Oxford, he deconstructed his faith and began to study religion from a historical lens.

Onishi subsequently received a doctorate in religious studies from the University of California Santa Barbara. He teaches and researches Christian nationalism; the history of evangelicalism; race and racism in American religion, gender, sex, masculinity; and secularism and secularity. He has taught at UC Santa Barbara, the Graduate Theological Union at UC Berkeley, Rhodes College, Skidmore College, Central Michigan University, Cal Lutheran University and the University of San Francisco.  

A frequent commentator on NPR and in The New York Times, Onishi is also co-host of the Straight White American Jesus (SWAJ) podcast, which ranks in the top 50 for politics shows on Apple Podcasts charts. He authored “Preparing for War: The Extremist History of White Christian Nationalism — and What Comes Next,” which was published earlier this year.

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