There’s no denying that many of the rioters at the Capitol were acting in the name of Christianity. Many carried crosses and flags with Christian symbols on them. They were seen visibly praying. They have said in interviews since the attack that they were acting in the name of Jesus. They’re also on record as being regular members of their churches.
Of course, the fact that many were acting violently is not a good look for Christianity.
So author Michael Brown is determined to distance himself from them as much as possible. It’s not a new tactic for him; a month ago, he was insisting white evangelicals weren’t promoting white nationalism.
… The fact that Christian music was playing at the big rally does not mean the violent attackers were Christians themselves — not, at least, in any true sense of the word.
… as an evangelical leader who is friends with quite a few prominent, evangelical Trump supporters, I know for a fact that these leaders and believers were appalled and shocked at what took place that fateful day.
Other friends of mine who were there were beyond mortified by the events of the day. Every Christian leader I know was appalled.
This is not who we are. These are not the values to which we adhere. In that sense, this was not a Christian insurrection.
Except for a good faction of evangelicals, this is exactly who they are. Nationalism and an obsession with violent revenge against perceived enemies was not invented during the Trump era; it has a long history that goes back decades. And it was taught primarily in churches.
What’s more, evangelicals are the same people that claim Donald Trump, a man who breathes lies, says he never repents for anything, and has a long history of racism, is the most Christian president we’ve ever had. How are we supposed to take them seriously when they’re screwing up the easiest moral question of our time?
The Christian rioters were certainly acting hypocritically if you judge them by what their churches say out loud. But there’s a clear connection between the persecution rhetoric and lies they’re constantly fed by their pastors and right-wing media… and taking very real action on it. Brown and his friends may not have been the ones carrying those crosses at the Capitol, but they helped sow the seeds that led to the rioting. By defending Trump for the last four years, even when his actions were indefensible, they ultimately fueled the coup. Refusing to take any responsibility just makes them look worse.
Were the rioters sincere in their faith? Most likely.
Were they also horribly misguided? Absolutely.
Both things can be true at once.