History of Christian nationalism played a dominant role in Capitol insurrection: evangelical writer
The insurrection on the U.S. Capitol may have been influenced by former President Donald Trump's dangerous rhetoric but the history of Christian nationalism likely paved the way for the deadly unrest that erupted on Jan. 6, according to Talking Points Memo.
A new op-ed written by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove — a known spiritual writer, Duke Divinity School graduate, and evangelical Christian. —highlights the distinctive presence of Christian symbolism at the Trump rally.
From Pastor Paula White's opening prayer at the disgraced former president's "Save America" rally and rioters' victory prayer inside the Senate chamber after invading the Capitol, to the "Jesus 2020" banner that soared outside the U.S. Capitol, symbols of distorted Christianity were visible in Washington, D.C., although many were not televised.
Wilson-Hartgrove noted, "the presence of Christians and Christian symbolism at the Capitol riot was so pronounced that several pro-Trump pastors felt compelled to make public statements condemning the violence in the days that followed." However, the problem appears to be far deeper than one religious leaders can condemn.
In a recent report about the extensive planning leading up to the insurrection, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) also noted that many different extremist groups appeared to be organized and under the direction of many different leaders all gathered in the name of "saving America."
For decades now, right-wing conservatives have used Christianity to justify many facets of extremism, barbarism, and the many lies perpetrated to support the existence of Christian nationalism. Jan. 6 proved to be a pivotal example of how Christianity has influenced the rise of right-wing extremism:
"Nothing in recent history has exposed the lies of Christian nationalism more clearly than a riot at the U.S. Capitol, waged in the Christian God's name. We cannot pretend that what we witnessed on Jan. 6 was a strange departure from the normal practice of Christian nationalist organizations. It was a harvest of the narrative they have sown for the past four decades."
In order to move in a direction that would lead to a resolution for this widespread problem, Wilson-Hartgrove notes that "facing the truth of Christian nationalists' complicity" could be the first step in the right direction.
Wilson-Hartgrove concluded, "But facing the truth of Christian nationalists' complicity in the Capitol riot may help other Christians see what Rev. Barber taught me so many years ago: that there is a way for Christian people of faith to work with their secular and non-Christian neighbors to reclaim a moral narrative that can push the country toward a more perfect union."
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