Christian nationalism’s little-known Southern California origin story detailed in new book

While the White Christian Nationalism movement is largely correlated to the rural parts of the United States, a new book now outlines the origins of the movement from an unexpected region–southern California.

Author Brad Onishi’s new book, “Preparing for War: The Extremist history of White Christian Nationalism — And What Comes Next,” is a deep dive into how the new White Christian Nationalist movement has gone from origins of worshiping Jesus to maintaining a racial status quo through the religious platform.

As reported by, Onishi’s book has two parts — one about his own personal history in southern California’s White Christian Nationalist setting, growing up as a teenager in the ultra-conservative Yorba Linda, California, home of late President Richard Nixon and a city with a statewide reputation of racism and open hostility to minority groups. The other part of the book gives a biography of the southern California movement that created the new movement.

“In the middle of the 20th century, millions of white Southerners and Midwesterners left to places like Arizona and southern California and reshaped the landscape according to their vision,” Onishi said in an interview with “What ended up happening in Orange County is this pure distillation of white Christianity, mixed with vehement American nationalism, a libertarian approach to economics and a strong anti-communism that veered into conspiracy. The Southland, as I call it, became the epicenter of the new right.”

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Onishi points to southern California’s connections to Nixon, John Wayne and Ronald Reagan as historical proof of his hypothesis, he also links the 1964 Republication nomination of Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater as a critical landmark of this new religion-meets-politics mindset.

Fast forward 40 years to 2004 and Onishi says his experience with his Yorba Linda church and the 2004 Presidential election was one of the final acts of peer pressure that pushed him to leave that church experience. Onishi wanted to vote for Democratic Presidential nominee Jon Kerry but the elders in his church told him, “if you vote for him you’re voting for the murder of millions of babies,” Onishi continued. “I remember getting into the voting booth and being haunted by that.”

Onishi is thankful for the 2004 election experience that revealed the true motivations of his church, which was not praising Jesus.

“There were several events that made me question the logic of my community,” Onishi said in the interview with “We had an in or out, us versus them approach to morality and politics.”

Onishi teaches at the University of San Francisco and hosts a podcast called “Straight White American Jesus.”