Religious and Racial Equality

Want To Fight Christian Nationalism? Begin By Arming Yourself With The Facts

  Rob Boston

The one-year anniversary of the Capitol insurrection ought to be a time of soul-searching and reflection for Christian nationalists. It won’t be because leaders and followers of this movement are simply incapable of facing up to the uncomfortable truth that they employed violence in an effort to overturn the results of a democratic election.

But that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to live in ignorance. Indeed, the first step to opposing Christian nationalism is to understand what we’re up against. Last week’s anniversary led to a flood of articles exposing the insurrection’s links to Christian nationalism. Here are a few you might want to check out.

In a New York Times essay, writer/researcher Katherine Stewart begins with a blunt assessment: “The most serious attempt to overthrow the American constitutional system since the Civil War would not have been feasible without the influence of America’s Christian nationalist movement. One year later, the movement seems to have learned a lesson: If it tries harder next time, it may well succeed in making the promise of American democracy a relic of the past.”

Stewart explains that the coup attempt wouldn’t have been possible “without the unshakable sense of persecution that movement leaders have cultivated among the same base of voters.” Her piece is sobering and disturbing. Read it and share it widely.

At Salon, investigative reporter Kathryn Joyce puts the focus on the Jericho March, a little-notice gathering in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 12, 2020. The event, Joyce notes, was “widely seen as a forerunner to Jan. 6.” She writes that it brought together a motley collection of “religious right factions to pantomime the biblical Battle of Jericho in praying to ‘bring down the walls of the Deep State.’”

Writes Joyce, “The carnivalesque full-day rally – organized, as journalist Sarah Posner reported, by two then-current employees of the federal government – featured an odd fusion of charismatic evangelicalism, Christian Zionism and right-wing Catholicism. There was contemporary Christian praise music and Virgin of Guadalupe iconography; a rendition of ‘Ave Maria’ that concluded with the singer whopping ‘Giddy up’; and the female pastor of a New England pro-cannabis church wearing Catholic vestments while blowing on a Jewish shofar.”

Since then, these groups have only intensified their rhetoric, Joyce writes, noting that “religious leaders have used the rhetoric of faith to minimize and redirect responsibility for the violence of that day.”

For a stunning visual reminder of the role Christian nationalism played on Jan. 6, 2021, visit “Uncivil Religion,” a collaborative digital effort by the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. At the site, you can read interpretive essays by scholars and visit media galleries that, as the site notes, “represent the variety of ways people deployed religion on January 6.”

As we noted on this blog last week, Christian nationalists are busy trying to rewrite what happened on Jan. 6. And while their lies may resonate with the many Americans who have chosen to live in a post-truth zone, millions of others know that facts still matter.

We have a duty to ensure that the real story of Christian nationalist involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection is told and understood.

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