Credit: Cal Poly news release | Courtesy

University of San Francisco Professor Bradley Onishi will speak at Cal Poly about the rise in Christian nationalism in America on Friday, May 5. The event will be held in Phillips Hall from 3:30-5 p.m. and is free to attend.

Onishi, whose areas of expertise are theology and philosophy, said that all students even if they aren’t interested in politics and religion can expect to hear issues they care about.

“We’re talking about issues that are really threatening American democracy,” Onishi said.

His talk will cover topics including reproductive rights, trans rights, as well as both freedom of religion and freedom from religion, according to Onishi.

“In my mind, Christian nationalism is really a way to understand a lot of things that are touching people’s everyday lives in the contemporary moment,” Onishi said. “I’m going to talk about why Christian nationalism is a movement that is threatening a lot of people’s rights and bodily autonomy.”

Onishi says students should care about these issues because they affect individual rights and American democracy. 

“I think most of us want a government that respects everyone’s right to religious freedom, but does not impose religion on other people,” Onishi said.

According to a university news release, Onishi grew up non-religious but then converted to evangelicalism when he was 14. At the age of 20, he was in charge of a youth group with 200 students. After years in ministry he began to pursue a master in theology at Oxford University before getting his doctorate in religious studies at University of California, Santa Barbara. 

Onishi said he began to deconstruct from evangelicalism the more he studied history and religion. In his experience, students leave Onishi’s presentations with a better understanding about current issues facing the US right now. 

“There really is a sense of wanting to give folks the idea that we are in a war, a war against our democracy,” Onishi said. “And if we don’t realize that, we’re in trouble.”

Correction, May 3: The original version of this story said the event was being held in the Performing Arts Center. It has been corrected to say it’s being held in Phillips Hall.