"A rigorous and earnest grappling with the intersection between religion and politics." Publishers Weekly
"A clear-eyed, compelling study of the road to Jan. 6 and the possible future of the politics-versus-religion battle in the U.S." Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"This persuasive account documents the rise of White Christian nationalism and warns of the very real threat it poses to American democracy." Booklist
"In this compelling and scholarly mix of memoir and cultural and political history, Bradley Onishi brings to bear his experience as a former Christian nationalist movement insider to expose the radicalism behind the January 6th insurrection. Gripping and essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the threat that this movement poses to American democracy." Katherine Stewart, author of The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism
"In Preparing for War, Bradley Onishi traces the history of White Christian nationalism from the John Birch Society to the Big Lie and the January 6 terrorist assault on the U.S. Capitola narrative enlivened by the author's own intersections with the movement. This is an excellent and important book, both chilling and prophetic." Randall Balmer, historian author ofBad Faith: Race and the Rise of the Religious Right
"Hinging on the Capitol insurrection on January 6, 2021,Preparing for War presents the New Religious Right in light of their aggressive political ambitions. Bradley Onishi is ringing the alarm bells. He believes we are not at the end but rather a beginning of a religiously sanctioned extremism that threatens our American democratic future. Following the best scholarship on the nature of Christian nationalism and the further developments of the Religious Right. Onishi roots his story of historical changes in his life experiences in Southern California. The challenge is for all of us to examine how these momentous shifts have affected our own lives, and then seek ways to counteract the destructive paths being forged in our communities and our nation. This is a book to read with care." Dr. Gerardo Martí, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Sociology at Davidson College and author of American Blindspot: Race, Class, Religion, and the Trump Presidency
"Bradley Onishi takes us on a sweeping yet personal journey through modern American religious and political history to understand the violent, extremist strains of White Christian America that led to the January 6th insurrection. With insight from countless interviews, deep scholarship, and his own escape from White Christian nationalism, Onishi's Preparing for War is a clear account of what happened and clarion warning about what is coming. Compelling and timely." Andrew Seidel, attorney and author of The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American
A former White Christian nationalist destroys “the myth of the White Christian nation,” which “provided the basis for our polarized public square…and the worst attack on the Capitol in two centuries.”
As a teenager in the mid-1990s, Onishi, a religion scholar and host of the Straight White American Jesus podcast, became deeply involved in a White evangelical church in Orange County, California. As a convert and then minister, he was entrenched in what he calls the foundational traits of White Christian nationalism, which he recognized in the rhetoric of the Jan. 6, 2021, rioters: “the myth of the Christian nation, nostalgia for past glory, and an apocalyptic view of the nation’s future.” In a pertinent, accessible combination of historical survey and memoir, Onishi looks at specific court cases that helped galvanize the White nationalist movement in the 1960s in reaction to the rise of the civil rights and feminist movements, especially Engel v. Vitale (1962), which “concerned the constitutionality of school prayer in public school settings where students were required to participate”; and Abingdon v. Schemp (1963), which “considered the matter of required Bible reading in schools.” Both were denounced by evangelicals as the moment “God was taken out of public schools.” Along with other forces such as desegregation and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, these cases helped propel Barry Goldwater’s hard-right candidacy. Onishi shows how the movement gained political might thanks to Paul Weyrich, “one of Goldwater’s foot soldiers,” and how the religious right combined with the GOP to frame the argument as an attack on family values and religious freedom. The election of Ronald Reagan and defeat of Jimmy Carter, “the wrong kind of Christian,” helped perpetuate the warlike, conspiratorial language of the movement, to which Donald Trump neatly subscribed a few decades later. Onishi’s systematic, well-argued narrative reveals the “nostalgia politics” behind the shrinking privilege of White nationalists.
A cleareyed, compelling study of the road to Jan. 6 and the possible future of the politics-versus-religion battle in the U.S.