A History of Christian Violence


The insurrection at Capitol Hill in January of 2021 was by no means the first act of Christian violence in the United States. According to Thomas Edsall, Samuel P. Perry, a professor at Baylor University and no relation to Samuel L. Perry who I quoted in early posts,  pointed out to Thomas Edsall that the invasion of the Capitol by insurrectionists reminded him of “past acts of Christian violence.” American history, he said, is crammed full with such acts but he mentioned one, the confrontation between federal law enforcement officials at Waco Texas in 1993 with a group of white supremacists that were part of an extremist Christian sect. Perry believes that was a seminal moment in which the hard Christian right were united with white supremacist militias. Many see that time  as the crucial moment  when militias in America “grew up.”  But they grew up to be monsters. From that moment they became dangerous. According to Perry, both groups saw themselves “as targeted by the government in the aftermath of the standoffs at Ruby Ridge and Waco.” Christian fundamentalists and white supremacist militia groups both figured themselves “as targeted by the government in the aftermath of the standoffs at Ruby Ridge and Waco.” Numerous other similar incidents occurred in the US since then, including of course the occupying of the State Capitol in Michigan last year followed by the Trump insurrection.


The scholar of religion, Ann Burlein, concluded “Both the Christian right and right-wing white supremacist groups aspire to overcome a culture they perceive as hostile to the white middle class, families, and heterosexuality.”

Samuel Perry told Edsall this in an email to him:

“The insurrection or assault on the Capitol involved unlikely coalitions of people in one way. You do not necessarily think of religious evangelicals and fundamentalists being in line with Three Percenters or Proud Boys,” but, he continued, the narrative of chosenness and superiority made for broader group of support. I would not attribute Jan. 6 to Christian Nationalism alone, but I would not underestimate the involvement of the contingent of Christian Nationalists and the way the rhetoric of Christian Nationalism became a standard trope for Trump.”

The conjoining of Christian nationalism and politics in the US has produced a particularly nasty concoction. I think it is far from over. That is the real point. Where is this headed and when will it end?


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