Republican North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who is currently exploring a bid for governor in 2020, delivered a sermon on Sunday denouncing America’s diversity and multiculturalism and calling for Christian assimilation.
Delivered as part of the Salisbury-based Cornerstone Church’s “Celebrate America Service,” Forest issued a stern warning that diversity was destroying America.
The comments were first noticed by American Bridge, a progressive research organization.
“[N]o other nation, my friends, has ever survived the diversity and multiculturalism that America faces today, because of a lack of assimilation, because of this division, and because of this identity politics,” Forest claimed.
“But no other nation has ever been founded on the principles of Jesus Christ, that begin the redemption and reconciliation through the atoning blood of our savior,” he added.
Anti-multiculturalism rhetoric is popular among the growing white nationalist wing of the Republican Party. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has made similar comments in the past, and the Southern Poverty Law Center has attributed the rhetoric to white nationalist hate groups.
Forest’s fact are also simply wrong. America’s founders enshrined in the Constitution a clear separation of church and state in the First Amendment, stating that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, also wrote Virginia’s Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786. While some founders pushed for America to be a Christian nation, this view was soundly rejected.
On the other hand, plenty of other countries were founded as Christian nations, making Forest’s suggestion that “no other nation has ever been founded on the principle of Jesus Christ” demonstrably false. Catholicism, for instance, is more than just the official religion of the The Vatican. Countries like Bolivia, Costa Rica, Greece, Norway, and Finland all have official Christian religions.
Forest’s comments appear to conflict with his work as lieutenant governor. In 2016, he boasted of leading a Hispanic Outreach Task Force for the state board of education, focused on making charter schools more accessible for Hispanic families. Among its recommendations were “Spanish translations on public charters’ websites & applications” and the creation of a “Hispanic/Minority Advisory Board.”
Forest’s remarks would also appear to contradict the values of the Cornerstone Church itself. A mission statement on church’s website notes that it was founded by Bishop Bill Godair to be a “multicultural church.”
“Now, thirty one years into Cornerstone Church’s ministry, people from various denominations, nationalities, economic, and education levels gather on a weekly basis for worship. We feel that God has specifically called this ministry to tear down walls of religion, racism, and poverty, which have bound God’s people for too long,” it notes.
Godair did not immediately respond to a ThinkProgress inquiry about Forest’s sermon.