Jack Jenkins, “Capitol violence brewed from nationalism, conspiracies, and Jesus,” Christian Century, Jan. 25, 2021 https://www.christiancentury.org/article/news/capitol-violence-brewed-nationalism-conspiracies-and-jesus.
While not all participants were Christian, their rhetoric often reflected an aggressive, charismatic, and hypermasculine form of Christian nationalism—a fusion of God and country that has lashed together disparate pieces of Donald Trump’s religious base.
“A mistake a lot of people have made over the past few years . . . is to suggest there is some fundamental conflict between evangelicalism and the kind of violence or threat of violence we’re seeing,” said Kristin Kobes Du Mez, a history professor at Calvin University and author of Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation.
“For decades now, evangelical devotional life, evangelical preaching, and evangelical teaching have found a space to promote this kind of militancy.”
“Christian nationalism really tends to draw on an Old Testament narrative, a kind of blood purity and violence where the Christian nation needs to be defended against the outsiders,” said Andrew Whitehead, coauthor of the book Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States, pointing to similar conclusions drawn by Yale sociologist Philip Gorski. “It really is identity-based and tribal, where there’s an us-versus-them.”
West Texas florist Jenny Cudd described in a Facebook video how she “charged the Capitol with patriots,” exclaiming, “f——— yes I’m proud of my actions.” She boasted about “break[ing] down” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office door and praised other insurrectionists who attempted to overrun state capitols elsewhere.
She concluded her video with an outline of her religious beliefs.
“To me, God and country are tied—to me they’re one and the same,” she said. “We were founded as a Christian country. And we see how far we have come from that. . . . We are a godly country, and we are founded on godly principles. And if we do not have our country, nothing else matters.”https://ads.christiancentury.org/ads/ad.lasso?spot=20
Whitehead said Cudd’s explicit fusion of God, country, and Trump is a “perfect” example of Christian nationalism but that those who invoked it while storming the Capitol are but an extremist subset of a much larger group—one that doesn’t stop at the boundaries of evangelicalism.
“A little over half of Americans are favorable toward Christian nationalism to some extent,” Whitehead said. “Extremism of any form, whether it’s religious or not, can only really flourish if it’s allowed to. . . . [So this] creates a situation where those that want to take that view even further can do that.”
As they approached the Capitol on January 6, the Proud Boys—a White nationalist group—paused for a moment of prayer.
As they knelt, a man with a bullhorn—his words captured on a livestream—prayed that God would “soften the hearts” of government officials who have “turned harshly away” from God, asking for “reformation and revival.”
He concluded: “We pray that you provide all of us with courage and strength to both represent you and represent our culture well.”
For Du Mez, the prayer was striking precisely because of how normal it seemed.
“It was an evangelical prayer,” she said. “It seemed perfectly natural to all of the Proud Boys in that circle to hear that prayer and to respond. It really signals this enmeshment of White nationalism, violence, and a kind of ordinary White evangelicalism.”
Whitehead agreed and warned that ignoring such dynamics can have dire consequences.
“Christian nationalism really is a threat to pluralistic democratic society, and everybody should take that threat seriously,” he said. “We’ve seen what happens where there’s no proof of voter fraud, yet people go and—under the guise of Christian symbols and symbolism—enact violence against their own country.”—Religion News Service
followed in Feb. 10, 2021 print edition by an article with the wonderful headline “Heathens condemn storming of Capitol after Norse religious sympols appear amid mob.”
Emily McFarlan Miller, “Heathens condemn storming of Capitol after Norse religious sympols appear amid mob.” Christian Century, Jan. 25, 2021 https://www.christiancentury.org/article/news/heathens-condemn-storming-capitol-after-norse-religious-symbols-appear-amid-mob.
It’s important to speak up, [self-identified heathen author Lea] Svendsen said, because she doesn’t want anyone—especially people of color or LGBTQ people—to feel uncomfortable around her as a visible heathen who wears those symbols as articles of faith. To her, White supremacy is the antithesis of her beliefs.
“The very notion of excluding others based on how they appear or what their ethnic background is or what their philosophical background is, is counter to what the myths themselves teach us,” Svendsen said.