The Republican Party’s struggle to elect a speaker of the House of Representatives dominated the news at the end of last week. That’s a shame because the story pushed out another that deserved more ink and airtime: the two-year anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol.
Incredibly, efforts are under way to whitewash or downplay the severity of that awful day. The Washington Post reported recently that Capitol tour guides are being instructed not to mention that insurrection unless asked. Meanwhile, the far right continues its efforts to portray the men and women who vandalized the Capitol and violently assaulted police officers as “patriots.”
‘The Terrorists Perceived Themselves To Be Christians’
The role of Christian Nationalism in the assault has still not been fully acknowledged by the federal government – despite efforts by Americans United and other groups to ensure that it be included. The report of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol is exhaustive and runs more than 800 pages. Christian Nationalism is barely mentioned.
This happened even though images and videos taken that day show numerous people hoisting crosses, “Jesus Saves” signs, Christian flags, T-shirts linking former President Donald Trump to Jesus and other paraphernalia of Christian Nationalism. It happened despite the stark words of District of Columbia police officer Daniel Hodges who told the committee during testimony, “It was clear the terrorists perceived themselves to be Christians.” (Hodges was among several police officers recently given medals by President Joe Biden for their work defending the Capitol. It’s a well-deserved honor, but the House could have also honored Hodges by condemning the people who attacked him in its report.)
An Important Report Gives The Facts
It’s up to us to ensure that the full story of that appalling day is told – as many times as necessary. Thankfully, that information is out there. The Baptist Joint Committee and the Freedom From Religion Foundation on Feb. 9, 2022, issued a joint report on the role Christian Nationalism played in the insurrection. The in-depth report was coauthored by Andrew L. Seidel, who about a month after it was issued joined the staff of Americans United as vice president of strategic communications.
The report makes it clear that Christian Nationalism provided much of the fuel that fed the flames of fanaticism that nearly burned down our democracy on Jan. 6, 2021. The best way to mark this grim anniversary in the years to come is to frankly acknowledge that.
Anything less is a distortion of the historical record.