Christian nationalism on display as mob storms Capitol
The mob that overtook the Capitol building during a day of unprecedented violence on American democracy entered our halls of government while plainly adorned with signs of anti-semitism and racism among them.
In the Baptist Standard, Ken Camp points out how “signs of Christian nationalism” were “hard to miss”:
One of the first rioters to enter the Senate Chamber carried a Christian flag. Some in the crowd that seized the Capitol waved “Jesus Saves” banners. Others displayed a banner that said: “Jesus is my Savior/Trump is my president.” A flag reading “Proud American Christian” with an American flag inside an ichthus—an ancient Christian symbol—also was seen.
In a new piece for Good Faith Media, BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler puts it all in important context:
My outrage increased when I saw photos of the rioters holding up signs like “Jesus Saves” and heard reports that the first invaders to enter the Senate chamber carried a Christian flag.
These images are textbook examples of Christian nationalism, an ideology that merges American and Christian symbols, narratives and identities.
Christian nationalism perverts Christianity and endangers our political union, claiming a special, privileged position for Christianity and its adherents. Because it ignores the sin of Black chattel slavery, Christian nationalism in the American context also provides cover for white supremacy and racial subjugation.
Think about the additional harm perpetuated by the assailants acting in Jesus’ name.
The rioters, who can accurately be labeled as radical Christian terrorists, used Christianity as a kind of mascot, trying to lend credibility and social acceptability to their terrorism. In the process, they sullied Christianity and Jesus in the hearts and minds of people all over the world. …
What we witnessed this week was un-American and un-Christian, at least when we consider those descriptors in their ideal forms. Those of us who claim both identities have a special responsibility not only to repudiate these actions but also to continue the work to dismantle Christian nationalism and to reveal how this dangerous ideology permeates our society. …
Christian nationalism predates Trump, and it will long outlast him. But the damage done — not only this week but over the past four years — will take a concerted, long-term effort to reverse.
Camp’s article in the Baptist Standard went on to quote BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler and others who expressed outrage over the rioters cloaking “their destructive acts in Jesus’ name and Christian imagery,” and they emphasized the need to call it out.
Here are a few key voices:
Dwight McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, pointed to the irony that Southern Baptist Convention leaders focus on attacking critical race theory while Christian nationalism is demonstrated at the U.S. Capitol.
“Christian Nationalism on display, while the SBC debates CRT,” McKissic tweeted.
Anthony B. Bradley, professor of religion at King’s College in New York, offered a similar perspective.
Bradley tweeted: “Critical Race Theory will never turn into 1812 lawlessness. Four people are dead because of Christian Nationalism, not CRT.” …
Christian humorist Phil Vischer, one of the creators of “VeggieTales” and co-host of the Holy Post podcast, sardonically tweeted: “Watching protesters invade the Capitol with Christian flag and a giant ‘Jesus 2020’ banner. Lawmakers are in hiding because of marauding … Christians?? Anyone still unsure Christian nationalism is an issue??”
As readers of this blog and BJC followers have learned well in recent years, Christian nationalism is a growing threat to religious liberty in the United States, with deep ties to white nationalism. While it often takes seemingly innocuous forms, like posting “In God We Trust” signs in public schools or evoking Jesus’ name in a prayer opening a town hall meeting, the purposefully modest building blocks of Christian nationalism can clear the way for dangerous and direct assaults on our freedoms.
This week’s violent insurgence at the Capitol was a dark reminder of the deep hold Christian nationalist thinking has on many in this country. In 2019, BJC launched Christians Against Christian Nationalism to unite Christians in condemning this profound misuse of our faith. Join the thousands of Christians Against Christian Nationalism by signing their statement online, and check out the resources to learn more. For an in-depth look at this subject, be sure to listen to BJC’s podcast series on the dangers of Christian nationalism (which also has a companion discussion guide).