Rejecting the January 6th attack in the name of Christ

When far-right extremists stormed the US Capitol a year ago, some did so with wooden crosses and flag announcement “Jesus is my savior, Trump is my president.” The mis-spiritual, far-right messages that were the basis of the failed rebellion are powerful examples of “Christian nationalism”, the belief that America is an exclusively Christian nation and one cannot be a good American without being a conservative Christian.

To truly understand what happened last January 6, we must first understand white Christian nationalism. And to prevent another 6 January, Christians must stop the harmful white nationalism that is being spread in our name.

Let’s be clear: Christian nationalism is neither Christian nor patriotic. This toxic worldview, on such clear display in the January 6 attack, is a blasphemous and seditious ideology that is deeply attuned to white supremacy and completely abandons the gospel values ​​of love, truth, dignity and justice.

The good news is that most American Christians reject white Christian nationalism. I direct an organization named loyal america, the largest online community of Christians who execute our faith for social justice. along with faith in public life action, we are mobilizing people of faith To reject Christian nationalism, call for accountability and pass important reforms to protect our democracy,

About 10,000 people of faith Demanding from the selection committee of the house probing January 6 Attorney General Merrick Garland keeps his promise Wednesday to hold those responsible for last year’s violence accountable. In our open letterWe are urging the committee to criminalize references to rebel leaders and to support pro-democracy bills such as the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

The bad news is that, despite its minority status, Christian nationalism remains a powerful extremist movement—encouraged by today’s Republican politicians and tends to do even more damage to the nation and church if not contained. is progressing.

During his time in office, Donald Trump relied on white supremacy and Christian nationalism to strengthen his base. Countless far-right elected officials have abandoned both the Constitution and the Bible when they join the mainstream of deadly religious rhetoric to spread the Big Lies about the 2020 election and try to reverse its consequences. Even after a year, Most of them still refuse to accept the truth: President Joe Biden won a free and fair election.

And in that year, many of those same politicians, including U.S. Representatives Marjorie Taylor Green, Lauren Boebert, Madison Cawthorne and Paul Goser, also encouraged bragging about their Christian faith, with the tacit support of Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy. Supporting efforts to restrict more violence, voting rights, and spreading deadly misinformation about democracy, COVID-19, and climate change.

That misinformation is not an accident. By linking this all-out attack on truth to the voters’ deep religious beliefs, these MPs have established themselves as holy prophets, leaving their supporters to rely on someone else.

This is not Christianity; It is an authoritarian cult, which worships power rather than God.

Yet it is not just politicians who are distorting Jesus’ message of love and justice. Many conservative evangelical clergy and Catholic priests are also spreading toxic white Christian nationalism.

In the days leading up to January 6, Catholic Bishop Joseph Strickland and Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano fueled the rebellion with appearances and blessings at dangerous “stop the steel” rallies. After the attack, evangelist Franklin Graham dismissed the facts without evidence, saying, “Most likely it was Antifa.”

In November 2021, megachurch pastor John Heagie hosted an anti-democracy rally for pro-Trump pastors such as Greg Locke and Trump confidants like Michael Flynn, who have demanded that America “embracing one religion.” And in December, the First Baptist Dallas megachurch hosted Trump himself for “Christmas Sunday.” The partisan holiday affair couldn’t feel less Christmas-y: Pastor Robert Jeffress compared Trump’s presidential pardon to God’s forgiveness of sins, with the crowd chanting “USA! USA!” Chanted. And Trump declared “Make America great again.”

Driven by the belief that their politics are God-appointed, far-right politicians and clergy are now working to block accountability for the leaders of the January 6 attack. They continue to tell big lies about the 2020 election that fueled the rebellion. They have even passed legislation in at least 19 states to introduce new barriers to voting and give partisan politicians new power to reverse election results that don’t go their way.

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: A pro-Trump crowd breaks into the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College victory over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes in several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit election results.
Vin McNamee/Getty Images

Despite their volume, these outspoken, far-right pastors and politicians do not speak for most American Christians. In addition to Faithful America’s efforts to hold bad faith actors accountable, more than 20,000 people representing nearly every Christian denomination have rallied together. Christian against Christian nationalism, The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Freedom has also produced helpful webinars And Study Guides You Can Use at Your Church To oppose Christian nationalism.

Jesus ended his earthly ministry with a new commandment, “Love one another as I have loved you.” If we spread violence or try to prevent others from participating in democracy, we do not love the way Christ did. We love Jesus when we respect the dignity of every voter, call on officials who hijack their names to blaspheme power grabs, and use our faith to reject the deadly Christian nationalism of January 6th. To do, not to spread.

Rev. Nathan Empsell is a priest at the Episcopal Church and the Executive Director of Faithful America.

The views in this article are those of the author.