In my recent blog post, Thomas B. Edsall from the New York Times pointed out that the recent insurrection on Capitol Hill could not be understood except as an act of Christian Nationalism. The rioters were not there to fight for their religion, they were there to impose their religion on others. That is precisely what the American Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms try to block in their different ways.
As Edsall said,
“While much of the focus of coverage of the attack on the halls of the House and Senate was on the violence, the religious dimension went largely unnoted (although my colleagues Elizabeth Dias and Ruth Graham made the connection)”
It may have gone unnoted by some, but not by me and others who watched the events unfold. First, I heard prayers uttered (blasphemously in my opinion) inside the Capitol by the insurrectionists. A number of the participants bowed their heads to acknowledge the prayer. I also saw numerous signs carried by rioters that made their religious affiliation clear. For example, one sign mimicked perfectly the Republican poster that read, “Trump and Pence 2020 on a sign that showed the exact same colors, and said, “Jesus and Trump 2020.”
Samuel Perry one of the authors of the book emailed Edsall the following statement: “The Capitol insurrection was as Christian nationalist as it gets.” Perry actually expanded on this in his email to Edsall, as follows:
“Obviously, the best evidence would be the use of sacred symbols during the insurrection such as the cross, Christian flag, Jesus saves signs, etc. But also, the language of the prayers offered by the insurrectionists both outside and within the Capitol indicates the views of white Americans who obviously thought Jesus not only wanted them to violently storm the Capitol in order to take it back from the socialists, globalists, etc., but also believed God empowered their efforts, giving them victory.”
Perry explained in his email to Edsall that taken together the evidence
“reflects a mind-set that clearly merges national power and divine authority, believing God demands American leadership be wrested from godless usurpers and entrusted to true patriots who must be willing to shed blood (their own and others’) for God and country. Christian nationalism favors authoritarian control and what I call “good-guy violence” for the sake of maintaining a certain social order.”
There is no doubt that the insurrection had a religious taint. It was striking to see. What we all learned that day is that the commingling of religion and politics can be a dangerous thing. That does not mean it is always like that. For example, Christian pastors were instrumental in England in getting slavery abolished. But when religion gets violent or oppressive ion the political sphere, all of us had better look out.