I am still trying to make sense of all those prayers and Christian symbols I saw at the Capitol the day of the insurrection. What do they mean and what do they tell us about the matrimony of politics and religion?
Paul D. Miller, a professor of international affairs at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, made these claims in an email to Thomas Edsall of the New York Times:
“Christian nationalism is the pursuit of tribal power, not the common good; it is identity politics for right-wing (mostly white) Christians; it is the attempt to ‘own and operate the American brand,’ as someone else wrote; it is an attitude of entitlement among Christians that we have a presumptive right to define what America is. I oppose identity politics of all kinds, including the identity politics of my tribe.”
According to Benjamin Lynerd, a professor of Political Science at Christopher Newport University and the author of Republican Theology: The Civil Religion of American Evangelicals,” Christian Nationalism involves
“the tragedy of evangelical politics, a tragedy that the unrestrained loyalty to President Trump lays bare, but which stretches well beyond this moment in American history,” when “political theology serves merely as cover for the more pragmatic agenda of social empowerment.”
Professor Lynerd asserts, that there is a difference,
“between searching out the implications of the Christian gospel for politics and leveraging this gospel to advance the social position of American Christians. When evangelicals disguise the latter in the robes of the former, not only do they engage in dishonesty, but they also give fuel to the cynical view that there really is no difference — that the theological is nothing more than a cloak for the political.”
When theology is used to cloak a grab for political power the religion is far from pure. Then it has jumped into the fray and got soiled by it.
As Robert Jones said in an email to Edsall:
“While many media outlets focused on decoding the myriad white supremacist signs and symbols, they too easily screened out the other most prominent displays: the numerous crosses, Bibles, and signs and flags with Christian symbols, such as the Jesus 2020 flag that was modeled on the Trump campaign flag.”
Jones also said, those religious symbols used on Capitol hill by the insurrectionists:
“reveal an unsettling reality that has been with us throughout our history: The power of White supremacy in America has always been its ability to flourish within and be baptized by white Christianity.”
Like I said before, the deep connections between anti-black racism in the United States are deeply disturbing. No mild words of religious comfort can gloss them over. The same is true of the religious trappings of the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Samuel Perry in his email to Edsall said that when white Americans are asked about taking the country back they mean that the Christian character of the country should be restored, and by that they mean “they want to take the country back to the days when they (white, native-born, conservatives) were in power.” But if you asked blacks the same question they would mean, a return to a ““civil religion” where there was a sacred obligation to be a “just” nation, characterized by fairness, equality, and liberty.
That mixture of religion and white supremacist politics is incredibly toxic and dangerous. That is what Trump tried to bring about and in that battle his greatest allies were Evangelical Christians. To the extent that this is true, the Evangelicals have been besmirched with their leader’s slime. By leader of course, I mean Donald Trump, not Jesus Christ. This is my conclusion: Those Evangelical Christians that followed Trump to the bitter end, gave up on Jesus a long time ago, in favour of their own bully in the White House. Trump became their Savior supplanting the one on the cross.