March 25, 2024 - 8:00pm

Infighting on the Right has heated up between Christian and Jewish conservatives over the phrase “Christ is King”. It illustrates growing fissures on the Judaeo-Christian Right over the Israel-Palestine conflict, despite it being one of the strongest alliances in American politics until this point.

The latest round of arguing came the weekend of Palm Sunday and Purim. During an episode of the Daily Wire’s Andrew Klavan Show, Klavan argued that using Christ’s name as a cudgel against Jews was heretical. “When you use that phrase to mean God has abandoned his chosen people, the Jews, through whom he came into this world incarnate… you are quoting scripture like Satan does in the Bible,” he said. “You are quoting scripture to your purposes and that to me is specifically wicked.”

His comments were in response to the company parting ways with Candace Owens following a months-long public dispute over the war in Gaza. Owens used the phrase in November as tensions flared between her and her colleague at the Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro, drawing accusations of antisemitic dog whistling. The Right-wing commentator parted ways with the platform late last week, before which she defended Kanye West, suggested that a ring of Jews in Hollywood is covering up “sinister” activities, and liked a tweet accusing a Jew of drinking Christian children’s blood.

Owens’s views are by no means representative of the Christian Right, but they do point to a rift that has been widening since 7 October. Joined by the likes of Tucker Carlson, the war in Gaza reveals a growing divide between isolationists, many of whom are Christian, and interventionists, the strongest of which are Jewish conservatives passionately supporting Israel.

But the divide runs deeper than Middle Eastern fighting. Some observant Christians are frustrated with a movement they feel appropriates their beliefs for political ends: to them, “Christ is King” is being co-opted as a political means to an end by people who do not take Christianity or its moral demands seriously. This dynamic was evident in December when many Christian conservatives objected to a pin-up calendar that was billed as Right-wing – in one case displaying a crucifix in the background of a photo.

Others believe, with frustration, that conservatism refuses to take on an explicitly Christian identity, viewing this reluctance as a concession to Jewish influence and political correctness. “On the long list of things conservatism couldn’t conserve we’ve finally reached basic affirmations of Christianity”, the pseudonymous commentator Auron MacIntyre wrote of the Christ is King debate.

It’s long been conservative dogma that culture is upstream of politics, a point Shapiro helped popularise among his young audience. But some religious conservatives are warming up to the idea of using government to influence culture, in part by allowing religion to inform and influence policies. It’s but one divide between the establishment and the New Right.

is UnHerd’s US correspondent.