A Word on Christian Nationalists and January 6th

A Word on Christian Nationalists and January 6th January 8, 2024

Three years ago, a mob of Christian Nationalists attempted a coup on the United States of America, while I was fixing the printer.

On January 6th, 2021, I was on the laptop, trying to write a sermon on Epiphany, but I kept getting distracted. Like most Americans who were on our computers that day, I had a tab open to social media and another to the news. We were all watching a crowd of rabble rousers at the nation’s capitol, waving silly flags and cheering for their would-be dictator. Things seemed to be getting a little out of hand when Adrienne came into the room and asked me to print out a coloring sheet for her, so I opened a tab and looked for one.  Then the printer decided to stage a rebellion, as printers do. I ended up getting up to squabble with Michael about the ink cartridge. One of us managed to get it out of the machine and turn it upside down. The coloring sheet eventually came out. I cursed the printer and vowed to get a new one as soon as I could. I got back on my computer, twenty-eight minutes after I’d looked up. And the nation’s capitol had been breached.

The insurrectionists remained inside the capitol until after nightfall.

Pro-lifers killed three people that day, not counting the one of their party who was shot climbing through the window and the officer who died from suicide later. The disciples of the Party of Supporting Our Troops carried a Confederate flag into the building.  The zealots for the Party of Law and Order injured 174 police officers. The fervent supporters of the Party of Decency and Family Values made bowel movements on the floor and stole the Speaker’s podium. About six hundred of them have so far cut plea deals and about 100 have been found guilty at trial. Some were even convicted of seditious conspiracy. Donald Trump himself stands a chance at being removed from the 2024 presidential ballot for inciting that coup attempt, though I don’t think he will be. I would be surprised if he doesn’t eventually go to prison for his attempts to overturn the election overall.

I remember thinking in 2016 that the people who revered Trump would see through him by November, or by the 2018 midterms, or by 2020. In 2021 as I watched the coup attempt, I marveled at how long they’d held on.

Now it’s 2024. The past three years went by in a blur. I have yet to replace that ridiculous printer. We’re in an election year again, and everyone’s anxious.

Many people have defected from the MAGA movement; Trump has been a catastrophe for the Republican party. He’s lost them every major election from 2018 to the present. But he still has his diehard disciples. And there are still a sizeable number of violent Americans who would like to see him or another autocrat take over.

I don’t know what to do about the people who honestly believe that overthrowing our government, flawed as it is, to install a dictator, would be a good thing.

I know there’s a certain faction of conservative that honestly thinks the government is at its best when it can’t do what it’s supposed to do. They’ve existed for as long as I’ve been alive. I think every American has met a few of these: the kind of person who calls the social safety net “communism” and thinks trickle-down economics is real. This other, newer group is much worse. They are so saturated with conspiracy theories and hysteria that they actually want a strongman dictator. They don’t want a stymied democracy that can’t do anything. They want an autocrat who can do whatever he wants, as long has he’s their autocrat. They imagine this will go well for them, and they don’t care about any other sort of human being.

And the vast majority of these people claim they’re doing what they’re doing in the name of Christ. At the January 6th coup attempt, they were waving flags with crosses on them and carrying pictures of Jesus and Mary. Someone pointed out that they looked a lot like the demonstrators at the March for Life, and now that that’s been mentioned I can’t see it any other way.

As a Christian, this infuriates me, and it also scares me.

Nothing could be further from the example of Jesus of Nazareth than trying to seize earthly power. Jesus ran away when the crowd tried to crown Him king and accepted crucifixion rather than unleash an army of angels to protect Him. But ever since the time of Christ, people who call themselves followers of Christ have been trying to crown emperors in His name. I don’t need to start naming historic examples; you’ve no doubt already listed several as you read this. I don’t know why it always happens, but it does.

As for me, I want to honor Christ by denouncing and fighting Christian Nationalist movements whenever I see them.

And I want to honor America by doing everything I can to keep them from taking over.

Those are my goals for 2024: that, and getting a new printer.



Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross, The Sorrows and Joys of Mary, and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.







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