Protesters gather outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, some with signs and symbols of Christianity. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol after mass demonstrations in the country’s capital. Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images Hide caption
Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images
Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images
A coalition of evangelical Christian leaders condemns the role of “radicalized Christian nationalism” in promoting political extremism that led to violent uprisings in the US Capitol on Jan. 6 by supporters of former President Trump.
In a new open letter, more than 100 pastors, ministry and seminar leaders, and other prominent evangelicals, express concern about the increasing “radicalization” they are seeing, especially among white evangelicals.
The letter states that some of the crowd who stormed the Capitol wore Christian symbols and signs that read “Jesus will save” and that one of the rioters stood on the podium of the Senate leading a Christian prayer. She calls on other Christian leaders to publicly oppose racism, Christian nationalism, conspiracy theories and political extremism.
The letter reads in part:
“We recognize that evangelicalism, and white evangelicalism in particular, has been prone to the heresy of Christian nationalism because of a long history of faith leaders accommodating white supremacy. We choose to speak now because we are not silent on this matter Want to be accomplices. ” ongoing sin. “
“Baptizing” extremism with religion
“I’m not trying to assign something to people that they didn’t want to assign to them – that they moved and marched in the name of Christ,” said organizer Doug Pagitt on a recent Zoom call with other signers of the letter. Pagitt, who leads the progressive evangelical group Vote Common Good, highlighted the prayer called from the Senate pedestal and performed in a style typical of many charismatic and evangelical churches.
“In the days before, people from our congregations called people for this action, released them to the Capitol and then decided to baptize this action in the name of Christ,” said Pagitt. “And this is our time to get up.”
White Evangelical Christians were a vital part of Trump’s base, and a majority supported him in both 2016 and 2020. A recent poll by the American Enterprise Institute found that three out of five white evangelicals mistakenly believe that President Biden was illegally elected.
Prominent white evangelical leaders were among Trump’s most vocal supporters. Some, including Ralph Reed of the Faith & Freedom Coalition and Dallas-based Pastor Robert Jeffress, have condemned the uprising but continued to support Trump steadfastly.
Among those who signed the open letter calling for Christian nationalism was Jerushah Duford, a granddaughter of the evangelical preacher, the late Rev. Billy Graham. In an interview with NPR, Duford said she was “broken” by the events of January 6, a feeling she experienced during the Trump years as she watched many white evangelical leaders ally with him.
“It felt like this was a symptom of what has been happening in a long time,” she said.
“White Evangelical Brothers and Sisters, where are you?”
During last week’s Zoom appeal, Mae Elise Cannon of the ecumenical group Churches for Middle East Peace called on nameless evangelical leaders who had refused to sign, and raised concerns about how this would happen to their churches or religious organizations.
“White Evangelical Brothers and Sisters, where are you?” Said Cannon. “Today some of us are on that call, but let me tell you how many people said ‘no’.” “
Another signatory, Kevin Riggs, is the pastor of a small church near Nashville belonging to the Free Will Baptist denomination, which he describes as “right of all.” Riggs said in an interview with NPR that he may receive a backlash from other pastors for signing the declaration, but he expects his congregation, which devotes much of their time to work with people facing homelessness, incarceration and addiction are concerned, support him.
“I wanted to sign this statement just to say that Christian nationalism is not only wrong but also heretical,” Riggs told other leaders when calling for Zoom, adding that evangelical leaders must take responsibility for “this evil to be exterminated in our churches “.