One more remarkable aspect of the rioters at the Capitol on January 6, 2021 was that most of them were white. Not only that, but many of them were White Supremacists who had been encouraged by Trump to attend. Many of them claimed to be Christians as well. Many of them, claimed they were there because Trump had invited them. The close ties between white supremacists and Christian nationalists have deep historical roots.
The founder and C.E.O. of P.R.R.I., a non-profit organization that conducts research on religion and politics, Robert Jones, claimed in his book White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity, that
“Christianity in America has a long history of serving as a cloak for a racist political agenda…The norms of white supremacy have become deeply and broadly integrated into white Christian identity, operating far below the level of consciousness…The story of just how intractably white supremacy has become embedded in the DNA of American Christianity.”
As I said, often the offspring of marriage of politics and religion are ugly monstrosities. They are sometimes ugly but we don’t realize it because we have become so accustomed to it. We don’t even notice it.
That does not mean that all American Christians adopted this point of view. Some like the 21 Baptist leaders that included Steve Harmon, professor of theology at Gardner-Webb University School of Divinity said this on the day following the riot on the hill in Baptist News a mainstream publication:
“Minister friends, we must confront directly the baseless conspiracy theories and allegations that our own church members are embracing and passing along. They are not just wrongheaded ideas; they have consequences, and to tie these falsehoods to the salvation of Jesus is nothing less than blasphemy.”
The fact is however, that the violent and disruptive views of the evangelicals I have been mentioning are common among American and Canadian evangelicals. There are so many that support the more extreme views that it would not be fair to characterize them as fringe views. Trump has always received broad support among evangelicals. Polls have consistently showed that about 80% of American evangelicals have supported Trump and continue to support Trump even though his racist statements and positions are pretty plain to see. Trump himself often admitted they were his staunchest supporters. To me the reasons for this have always been mysterious, but no less real for that.
The close ties between racism and evangelicalism are disturbing and should not be swept under a carpet.