We noted yesterday on this blog that disturbingly high numbers of white evangelicals have embraced conspiracy theories about antifa and Black Lives Matter being responsible for the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, despite a mountain of evidence showing that supporters of Donald Trump did it.
Today we’d like to give a shout-out to a group of evangelicals who not only accept the real version of events but have condemned the attack – and the dangerous ideology lurking behind it.
National Public Radio reported yesterday that a coalition of evangelical Christian leaders “is condemning the role of ‘radicalized Christian nationalism’ in feeding the political extremism that led to the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 by supporters of former President Donald Trump.”
More than 500 evangelicals have signed an open letter so far. The letter pulls no punches. It puts the blame for the riot where it belongs – on Trump supporters – and correctly labels the assault as an attempted coup.
“On January 6 we saw the flags claiming Trump's name, calling for violence, and raising the name of Jesus,” the letter reads. “We saw images of a police officer being beaten with an American flag and another being crushed in a doorway. We know an officer was murdered in the act of insurrection. We witnessed the cross and the gallow[s] being erected. We saw and heard the prayer the insurrectionists prayed from the Senate desk in Jesus’ name. Many of us recognized the content, the structure, and the style of that prayer as matching our own churches and faith. But we reject this prayer being used to justify the violent act and attempted overthrow of the Government.”
In the wake of the attack, there has been much discussion about white Christian nationalism and the threat it poses to our country. Make no mistake, that threat is real. The Jan. 6 assault exposed the violent extremists among us who were willing to overturn the vote of the people in an effort to keep Trump in office after he lost an election. They are fundamentally anti-democratic, and they must be held to account.
But let’s not forget that the majority of American Christians don’t stand with these extremists. Yes, too many Christians embrace white Christian nationalism, but they’re not a majority of that faith’s members.
Two years ago, AU’s allies at the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty organized Christians Against Christian Nationalism. As the name makes clear, it’s an explicitly Christian response to this corrosive worldview.
More than 21,000 Christians have signed Christians Against Christian Nationalism’s statement, which reads in part, “Christian nationalism demands Christianity be privileged by the State and implies that to be a good American, one must be Christian. It often overlaps with and provides cover for white supremacy and racial subjugation. We reject this damaging political ideology and invite our Christian brothers and sisters to join us in opposing this threat to our faith and to our nation.”
By all means, non-Christians and secularists should do everything in their power to oppose white Christian nationalism. But it’s Christians whose faith is tarnished by this divisive and un-American ideology. They must lead the way in denouncing it.