Warlike rhetoric, racist epithets and chants of “traitor” echoed through the halls.
Baseball bats and flagpoles became weapons used to attack police officers, who were also doused with bear and pepper spray.
Four police officers provided firsthand testimony this week of this kind of rhetoric and violence filling the halls of the United States Capitol during a hearing to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection.
As they recalled the events of that day, both officers and lawmakers were visibly shaken.
Their testimony left little doubt that what happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6 was nothing short of a failed insurrection. Officers also made it clear who they believed was responsible for the events that day: former President Donald Trump.
Officer Harry Dunn even equated the former president to a person hiring a hitman, “If a hitman is hired and he kills somebody, the hitman goes to jail. But not only does the hitman go to jail, but the person who hired them does. It was an attack carried out on Jan. 6 and a hitman sent them. I want you to get to the bottom of that.”
While the special committee will continue its investigation and more gripping testimony is sure to come, we would be wise to evaluate and analyze how the insurrection culminated into one terrifying and despicable day.
For decades now, right-wing white Christian nationalists have fueled the fires of theocratic convictions and autocratic applications.
While perpetuating the myth that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and demanding submission of other citizens to their beliefs, right-wing preachers and pundits created a monster that, once released, could not be easily caged again.
Thankfully, a rising tide of faith leaders are combating the myth and offering another faith perspective.
The BJC is leading a group of faith-based organizations (Good Faith Media is part of the national coalition) under the banner of “Christians Against Christian Nationalism” advocating for the denouncement of Christian nationalism while upholding religious liberty for all and respecting the boundaries of the separation of church and state.
Amanda Tyler, BJC’s executive director, told Newsweek that because of the “increasing violent incidents” across the country carried out by Christian nationalists, people of faith need to talk about this issue within their churches.
Christians Against Christian Nationalism created a curriculum designed for “individual congregations and small groups” who want to learn more about Christian nationalism’s history and beliefs.
Good Faith Media advocates for religious liberty for all and respects the separation of church and state. We believe in the first 16 words of the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
The Founders would have been appalled at the scenes of insurrection at the Capitol in January. Writing to William Bradford in 1774, James Madison penned, “Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise.”
When rigid fundamentalists seek to force their convictions on other citizens, the noble enterprise of liberty is sullied.
Thomas Jefferson went even further, writing to Alexander von Humbolt in 1813, “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil, as well as religious leaders, will always avail themselves for their own purposes.”
As I watched the events of Jan. 6 and listened to the testimonies of the frontline officers, I recalled many of the Christian nationalist sermons preached from pulpits across the country, the soundbites from politicians trying to sound committed to both faith and flag, and pundits using fear as a tool for intolerance and white supremacy.
Over the next several weeks, the country will hear about the tragic and deadly effects of Christian nationalism.
My hope is that anyone wavering over the harm this theological and ideological mindset causes will come to the realization Jesus has nothing to do with it.
From the man who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” and, “Love your neighbor,” I cannot help but believe he too would condemn the rhetoric and actions being conducted in his name.
As you listen to more testimony of the Jan. 6 insurrection, let us hold on to the words of Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), “Democracies are not defined by our bad days. We are defined by how we come back from those bad days.” The same could be said of the church.
Let the gospel be the gospel of Jesus – one of love, inclusivity and justice.
Brighter days will be ahead if we can demonstrate a higher level of respect and honor to our neighbors. Christian nationalism is the antithesis of that notion; therefore, let people of good faith shine the lights of freedom and justice for all.
CEO of Good Faith Media.