(RNS) — One unfortunate aspect of the American culture war is the tendency to weaponize words in ways that stretch them beyond any semblance of their original meanings. Terms such as “woke,” “PC,” and “cancel culture” are now deployed to signal that something is bad without shedding meaningful light on the reasons why it’s bad.

The latest term to meet this fate may be “Christian Nationalism.” Since the attack on the U.S. Capitol, it’s showing signs of becoming an all-purpose condemnation of any effort to integrate Christian beliefs with civic engagement, even perfectly peaceful ones.

So what is Christian Nationalism, and what is it not?

Paul Miller, a Georgetown University professor and author of a forthcoming book on Christian Nationalism, explains that Christian Nationalism is a political ideology that holds that “the American nation is defined by Christianity and that the government should take steps to keep it that way to sustain and maintain our Christian heritage.”

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