Sen. Josh Hawley spoke Monday night at the National Conservatism Conference. In his speech, he contrasted “Christian nationalism” with other kinds of nationalism. “The nationalism of Rome led to blood-thirst and conquest; the old pagan tribalisms led to ethnic hatred. The empires of the East crushed the individual, and the blood-and-soil nativism of Europe in the last two centuries led to savagery and genocide,” the Missouri Republican said.

“By contrast, Augustine’s Christian nationalism has been the boast of the West. It has been our moral center and supplied our most cherished ideals. Just think: Those stern Puritans, disciples of Augustine, gave us limited government and liberty of conscience and popular sovereignty.

“Because of our Christian heritage, we protect the liberty of all to worship according to conscience. Because of our Christian tradition, we welcome people of all races and ethnic backgrounds to join a nation constituted by common loves.”

Here are his remarks, as prepared for delivery:

I want to speak to you tonight about the future. About the future of the conservative movement and of this nation. But every future is rooted in some earlier past—or as Seneca said, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

So let me begin in the year of our Lord, 410: the year of the end. That was the year, you may recall, that the city once thought eternal, immutable, unconquerable—the capital of the ancient world, Rome—finally bowed to the invading Visigoths. And with that fell stroke, the era of the empire and the pagan world of antiquity came to a close.

Yet in that end for Rome was a beginning indeed—our beginning, the beginning of the West.

For even as Rome lay shattered and smoldering, a thousand miles away across the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Christian bishop of Hippo—a man named Augustine—took up his pen to describe a new age. His vision would inspire the West for millennia to come and help define the destiny of this country. He called his work “The City of God.”

Augustine’s first ambition was to defend Christians from blame for Rome’s fall. Some said the Christian religion, with its new virtues, like humility and service; with its glorification of common things, like marriage and labor; with its praise for “the poor in spirit,” the common people, had made the empire soft and left it vulnerable to its enemies.

Augustine knew just the opposite was true. The Christian religion was the only vital force left in Rome at the time of its collapse. And now Augustine imagined that religion rising from the ruins of the ancient world to forge a new one, to create a new and better civilization.

And what would be the secret to this new order? Love.

Love was a great word for Augustine. It contained the whole of his political science. Every person is defined, he said, by what he loves. Every society is driven by its loves. A nation is in fact nothing other than, to quote Augustine, “a multitude of rational creatures associated in a common agreement as to the things which [they] love.”

The trouble with Rome was that they loved the wrong things. And as its affections became corrupted, the Roman republic fell into disrepair.

Romans began by loving glory and practicing self-sacrifice. They ended by loving pleasure and practicing every form of self-indulgence. And so Rome rotted from its core.

But amid the Roman wreckage, Augustine envisaged a new civilization animated by better affections. Not the old Roman lusts for glory and honor, but the sturdier, stronger loves of the Bible: the love for wife and children; the love of labor, neighbor, and home; the love of God.

And while Augustine said all nations are constituted by what they love, his philosophizing actually described an entirely new idea of the nation unknown to the ancient world: a new kind of nationalism, if you like—a Christian nationalism organized around Christian ideals. A nationalism driven not by conquest but by common purpose; united not by fear but by common love; a nation made not for the rich or for the strong, but for the “poor in spirit,” the common man.

And his dream became our reality. A thousand years after Augustine wrote, some 20,000 practicing Augustinians ventured to these shores to found a society here on his principles. History knows them as the Puritans. Inspired by the City of God, they founded the City on a Hill.

We are a nation forged from Augustine’s vision. A nation defined by the dignity of the common man, as given to us in the Christian religion; a nation held together by the homely affections articulated in the Christian faith—love for God, love for family, love for neighbor, home, and country.

And some will say now that I am calling America a Christian nation. And so I am. And some will say I am advocating Christian nationalism. And so I do. Is there any other kind worth having?

The nationalism of Rome led to blood-thirst and conquest; the old pagan tribalisms led to ethnic hatred. The empires of the East crushed the individual, and the blood-and-soil nativism of Europe in the last two centuries led to savagery and genocide.  

By contrast, Augustine’s Christian nationalism has been the boast of the West. It has been our moral center and supplied our most cherished ideals. Just think: Those stern Puritans, disciples of Augustine, gave us limited government and liberty of conscience and popular sovereignty.

Because of our Christian heritage, we protect the liberty of all to worship according to conscience. Because of our Christian tradition, we welcome people of all races and ethnic backgrounds to join a nation constituted by common loves.

The truth is, Christian nationalism is not a threat to American democracy. Christian nationalism founded American democracy. And it is the best form of democracy yet devised by man: the most just, the most free, the most humane and praiseworthy.

And my claim to you tonight is that we must recover the principles of our Christian political tradition now for the sake of our future. This is true whether you are a Christian or not, a person of a different faith or none at all. The Christian political tradition is our tradition; it is the American tradition; it is the greatest source of energy and ideas in our politics—and always has been. It has inspired conservatives and liberals, reformers and activists, and moralists and trade unionists down our history. And now we need this grand tradition again.

For the common loves that sustain this nation are fraying. And as they do, the nation itself risks coming apart.

You know the litany of our ills as well as I do; you can read the signs of the times.

Our streets are not safe, not least because our border stands starkly and utterly open. And millions of illegal migrants pour into this country who have no interest in our common heritage and no commitment to our common ideals.

Good, stable work is in too-short supply. Our economy has entered a new and decadent Gilded Age, where working-class jobs disappear and working wages erode and working families and neighborhoods fall apart—while denizens of the upper class live a cloistered life behind gates and private security and woke CEOs rake in millions in pay.

Meanwhile, religion is hounded from the public square. And fanatics take to our campus quadrangles to chant “Death to Israel!”—precisely because they despise the biblical tradition that links the nation of Israel and the American republic together.  

And at back of each of these trends and all of them, at back of the chaos and coming-apart, is an assault on our common loves—the affections that come to us from our Christian inheritance.

God, work, neighborhood, home. The great affections of the West. They are dissolving before our eyes.

And why? Not by happenstance. The modern Left wants to destroy our common loves and replace them with others, to destroy our common bonds and replace them with another faith, to dissolve the nation as we know it, and remake it in their image. This has been their project for 50 years and more.

But it is the Right that is failing this country most acutely. The Left’s agenda we know. The Left’s threat we expect. It is conservatives who should be defending this nation, defending what makes us a nation. But instead? In this moment of crisis, they’re busy tending the dying embers of neoliberalism. They’re reading their copies of John Stuart Mill and Ayn Rand. They’re still talking about fusionism and its three-legged stool.

For conservatives, that will no longer do.

In this hour of chaos and crisis, conservatives’ only hope, and the hope of the nation, is to recover the Christian tradition on which this nation subsists. Our only hope is to renew our common loves.

Now we need not the ideology of Rand or Mill or Milton Friedman, but the insight of Augustine.

For the future, to save this country, this must be our mission: defend the loves that unite our country; defend the loves that make us a country—defend the common man’s work, the common man’s home, and the common man’s religion.

I fear my fellow Republicans labor under a misunderstanding. The Left’s strategy, their overriding aim, is not simply to slow our economy with regulations. It is not merely to grow big government bigger. Concentrated power is only part of their program.

The Left’s primary purpose is to attack our spiritual unity, our common loves. They want to destroy the affections that link us one to another and substitute a set of altogether different ideals.

The Left preaches its own gospel, a creed of intersectionality, of deliverance from tradition, from family, from biological sex—and of course, from God. They regard the faith of our fathers as a fetter to be broken. They deem our common moral inheritance as cause for repentance.

Instead of Christmas, they want Pride Month. Instead of prayer in schools, they venerate the trans flag. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are their watchwords, their new holy trinity.

And they expect their preachments to be obeyed. They may speak of tolerance, but they practice fundamentalism. Those who resist are called deplorable. Those who question are labeled threats to democracy.

And this is why progressives have such little patience these days for working people. They are too attached to the old ways, to the old faith of God and family and home and nation.

This is the Left’s true Replacement Theory, their true replacement agenda: to replace the Christian ideals on which our nation was founded and to silence those Americans who dare still stand by them.


Sadly, the Republican Party of the last 30 years has been in no position to resist the onslaught. Instead of defending the affections that bind us to each other, Republicans of the Bush-Romney era have championed libertarian economics and corporate interests. Their fusionist faith has become one note: money first, people last.

In the name of “the market,” these Republicans cheerleaded for corporate tax cuts and low barriers for corporate trade, then watched these same corporations ship American jobs overseas and use the profits to hire DEI experts.

In the name of capitalism, these Republicans sang the praises of global integration while Wall Street bet against American industry and bought up single family homes—so that after the banks took the working man’s job, he couldn’t afford a house for his family to live in. Then Wall Street crashed that global economy—multiple times—and the housing market, and these same Republicans kept right on rhapsodizing. And subsidizing.

It was all just too big to fail.

These Republicans forgot that economics is first and last about people—and the things they love. About providing for a family. About personal independence. About having a place to call home and a job that gives you pride.

You could say like this: The free market is valuable exactly to the degree it sustains the things we love together. Otherwise, it’s just cold profit.

And somewhere along the line, Republicans fell in love with profit for its own sake. And they seem almost embarrassed that their most committed and reliable voters are people of faith.

Let’s be honest: In that three-legged stool of yesteryear—with religious conservatives, libertarians, and national security hawks—it was always the religious people who supplied the votes. And it was our shared religious tradition that supplied conservatism’s most compelling ideas. For instance: constitutional government—or individual liberty, or the rights of workers.

Still today, churchgoing Americans who are married and raising children—whether white or Hispanic or Asian or whatever—are the backbone of the Republican Party. If the Republicans have a future, it lies with them.  

And they are exactly the people the party takes most for granted and serves least well.

Give the Left this: At least they know that people make politics. And they reward their people. Witness the trans flag on every federal building and a sluice of federal money flowing to climate change boondoggles.   

But Republicans? They give their voters this Hobson’s choice: between the high-tax, high-regulation globalism of the Left or the slightly lower-tax, lower-regulation globalism of the Right. A choice between the aggressive social liberalism of the Left or the accommodating social liberalism of the Right.

And then Republicans wonder why they have managed to win the popular vote only twice in the last nine presidential elections.

Republicans need a place to stand. They need a future to offer the country. And for conservatives who want to save this republic, there is only one place worth standing and only one vision with propounding: the Christian tradition of nationalism that unites this country.

Work, family, God. These are the great loves that define America. And these are the ideals the Republican Party must now defend.


Republicans can start by defending the common man’s work. In the choice between labor and capital, between money and people, it’s time for Republicans to get back to their Christian and nationalist roots—and start prioritizing the working man. 

The recent Republican Party, the 1990s party, privileged the money crowd in just about every possible way. In policy. In the tax code. In praise. Think of all that worshipful talk about corporate tax cuts. Think of all that rhetoric about the efficient allocation of resources. All of which really meant profits for Wall Street.

Workers meanwhile were left to fend for themselves: to watch their factories shut down; to watch their wages flatline; to watch their mortgages soar and their home values plunge. To explain to their children why they had to move out of the home they grew up in; why they couldn’t go to the doctor while Daddy tried to find work.

To all this, Republicans said, it’s the nature of things.

I would simply point out that this has not been the nationalist, Christian tradition of this country. Abraham Lincoln said it best when he said that “capital is only the fruit of labor … . Labor is superior to capital and deserves much the higher consideration.”

Theodore Roosevelt spoke for the same tradition when he said, “I am for business, yes. But I am for manhood first, and business as an adjunct to manhood.”

That’s the spirit.

The Republican Party of tomorrow, a party that can unite the nation, must put people before money. And the way to do that is to prioritize the interests of the working person.

The greatest economic challenge of our time is not the debt or the deficit or the value of the dollar. It is the astounding number of able-bodied men without good work.

To get them that work, we need policy change. We are about to have a grand debate about extending tax cuts. Perhaps we should start with this question: Why should labor ever be taxed more than capital? They should not be. Why should families get less tax relief than corporations? Families should always be first.

And we haven’t heard the word “usury” in a few centuries, but it certainly occupied a lot of Christian thinkers over the years, and it should occupy us again. There is no reason credit card companies or the banks behind them should be allowed to charge working people 30% and 40% interest. No profit margin in the world justifies that kind of extortion. No amount of money excuses profiting off other people’s pain. We ought to cap credit card interest rates by law.

And it’s time Republicans embraced the trade unions of the working man. I’m not talking about government unions, public sector unions—I mean the unions that go to bat for the working guy and his family.

I’ve been on the picket line with the Teamsters. I voted to help them unionize Amazon. I supported the railway strike and the autoworkers’ strike. And I’m proud of it.

And when it comes to woke corporations, I’ll just say this: If you want to change the priorities of corporate America, make the suits responsible again to an American workforce. Re-empower labor and you’ll change the priorities of capital.


Maybe one reason Republicans in recent years have not put the working man first is that they haven’t been willing to put the working man’s family first.

A party of a Christian nation must defend the family.

Republicans have talked about the family, to be sure. There has been talk unending. But Bush-type Republicans have rarely paused to ask themselves why so few of their countrymen are actually forming families.

Happy and hopeful people have children. Yet fewer and fewer Americans do. Why? Could it be that the economy Republicans have championed—the globalist, corporatist economy they helped create—is bad for the family?  

Time was, a working man could support his family—a wife and children—on the work of his own hands. Those days are long gone. Now Americans toil away in dead-end jobs in cubicles, servicing the global corporations, while paying outrageous sums for housing and health care. They don’t have families because they can’t afford to have the families they want.

No wonder they’re anxious. No wonder they’re depressed.

And those that do have children can’t afford to be home with them. Today, two parents have to work to make the kind of money, with the kind of purchasing power, that one wage got you 50 years ago. So government day care now shapes our children’s worldview. Screens now teach our children self-worth—or self-criticism. The media and the advertising industry shape their sense of right and wrong.

You want to put family first? Make it easy to have children. And put Mom and Dad back in the home. Make it the policy of this country to get American workers a family wage—one that a man can support his family on; one that allows a married couple to raise their children as they see fit.

For the truest measure of American strength is the flourishing of home and family.


And conservatives must defend the common man’s religion.

Of all the affections that bind a society together, none is more powerful than religious affection, a shared vision of transcendent truth.

To the extent our talking heads deign to acknowledge religion at all, they usually insist it is religious liberty that unites Americans. That is not, strictly speaking, true. Religion unites Americans, which is why the liberty to practice it is so important.

Every great civilization known to man has sprung from a great religion, and ours is no different. Despite experts telling Americans for decades that religion divides them, that religion destroys their civil peace, that religion is out of bounds—most Americans shared broad and basic religious convictions: theistic, biblical, Christian.

Our national faith is there in the Declaration of Independence: “All men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights.”

Our national faith is there on our currency: “In God We Trust.” President Eisenhower summed it up well when he said about that motto, in 1954: “Here is the land of liberty—and the land that lives in respect of the Almighty’s mercy to us.”

The elite consensus about religion is exactly wrong. Religion is one of the great unifiers of American life, one of our great common affections. Working people believe in God, they read the Bible, they go to church—some often, some not. But they consider themselves in all events members of a Christian nation. And they understand this fundamental truth: their rights come from God, not from government.

The 70-year push to eliminate every vestige of religious observance from our public life is precisely the opposite of what the nation needs. We need more civil religion, not less. We need open acknowledgment of the religious heritage and the religious faith that bind Americans one to another.

The campaign to erase America’s religion from the public square is just class warfare by other means: the elite versus the common man, the atheistic monied class versus America’s working people. And it’s not really about eliminating religion, either: It’s about replacing one religion with another.

Every nation observes a civil religion. For every nation is a spiritual unity. The Left wants religion: the religion of the Pride flag. We want the religion of the Bible.

So I have a suggestion. Take the trans flags down from our public buildings and inscribe instead, on every building owned or operated by the federal government, our national motto: In God We Trust.

Symbols matter. Most Americans, most everyday Americans, most working Americans find solidarity in the Christian faith. They believe God has blessed America; they believe God has a purpose for America—and they want to be part of it. And that conviction is what gives them the sense that, as Burke wrote, the nation is a “partnership—between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.”

Decades of misguided court rulings and elite propaganda have not erased Americans’ religious convictions, not yet, and that’s a prime reason we still have a nation. Conservatives must defend our national religion and its role in our national life. They must defend this most fundamental and ancient of moral bonds—as Macaulay put it, “the ashes of [our] fathers, and the temples of [our] God.”


Work, home, God. These are the things we love together. That sustain our common life together. That make us a nation—and provide the ground of our unity.

And this is what Christian nationalism means, in the truest and deepest sense. Not every citizen of America is a Christian, obviously, and never will be. But every citizen is heir to the liberties, to the justice, to the common purpose our biblical and Christian tradition gives us.  

That tradition is why we believe in free speech. It is why we believe in freedom of conscience. It is why we deplore the virulent antisemitism on display in our elite institutions and campuses.

I do notice that some who call themselves “Christian nationalists” offer different counsel, a counsel of despair. There is a certain End of Days flavor to much of their talk. All is lost, they say. America cannot be saved—or is not worth saving.

And from that place of fear they recommend fearful policies: an established church, ethnocentrism— “a Protestant Franco.” What foolishness.

That is not our tradition. That is not what we believe. Let us not be controlled by fear. Let us not return to the harsh, ethnic nationalism of the ancient world or to the authoritarian ideology of blood-and-soil. That is not what the Christian legacy has left us.

In this land, we defend the liberty of all. In this nation, we practice self-government of the people.

Let us return instead to what joins us in common communion.

The dignity of labor. The sanctity of home. The love of family and of God.

That is our civilization. That is America.

And those great loves on which our nation was founded have not failed. They are as compelling today as they were when Augustine first wrote of them. They are as vibrant now as when the Puritans first set sail for these shores.

We need only recommit ourselves to defending them, to strengthening them—to reviving our devotion. And when we do, we will save the nation.