Christianity’s Role in the Insurrection: A Historical Precedent?

Christianity’s Role in the Insurrection: A Historical Precedent? February 5, 2021

Christianity played a major role in inspiring its followers to storm the Capital building and attempt to overthrow the 2020 presidential election. Were Jesus buried, he’d be spinning in his grave.

There have always been insurrectionist motives within the Christian church. From Jesus’ trail under Pontius Pilate, to the Founding Fathers of America’s break from England, to the insurrection at the Capitol building on  January 6. / Image by falco from Pixabay

Exemplary sources like the following say as much, but offering a detailed backdrop of Christianity’s role is rather feckless at this point. Many readers here on Patheos are Christians or know Christians. We have all been hearing the apocalyptic tone that’s been building in Christendom for the past four years. So, connecting the dots between Christianity … conservatism … the Republican Party … Trumpism … extremism … QAnon … and the insurrection is undeniable.

Nevertheless, these articles are worth the read:

A Christian Insurrection: Many of those who mobbed the Capitol on Wednesday claimed to be enacting God’s will.

How the Christian Right Helped Foment Insurrection: Christian-right activists inside and outside of government promoted the election fraud lie and claimed God told them to “let the church roar”

The Capitol Riot Revealed the Darkest Nightmares of White Evangelical America: How 150 years of apocalyptic agitation culminated in an insurrection

Christians would be quick to point out that Jesus was not buried. He is alive and well, seated at the right hand of God, directing his church leaders on earth to carry out his plans.

Which begs the question: Why is Jesus using the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters, the Oath Keepers, and other Christian nationalists to spread his message of compassion and forgiveness?

“Before self-proclaimed members of the far-right group the Proud Boys marched toward the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, they stopped to kneel in the street and prayed in the name of Jesus. … They asked God for the restoration of their “value systems,” and for the “courage and strength to both represent you and represent our culture well.” And they invoked the divine protection for what was to come. Then they rose. Their leader declared into a bullhorn that the media must “get the hell out of my way.” And then they moved toward the Capitol.” From the article: How White Evangelical Christians Fused With Trump Extremism

You know Christianity has completely lost control of its mission when violent hate groups have become the voice of the Christian movement in America for the foreseeable future.

Or when atheists such as I have to remind the church for what it formally symbolized: It is not the role of Christianity to establish a nation or a theocracy on earth. In the broadest terms, the role of Christianity is to be the hallmark of compassion, to provide relief for human suffering (not inflict it), and to be the stalwart of virtuous and moral behavior.

To be fair, many Christians and evangelicals have condemned the violence at the Capitol as this Huffpost article points out.

I’ve not read a sterner example of condemnation than this insightful admission by Rev. Rob Schenck posted February 3 on the Religious News Service website:

“During my now regrettable 30 years as an activist on the religious right, I aided and abetted the poisoning of evangelical culture by engaging in alarmist rhetoric from the pulpit. … More than 50,000 financial contributors rewarded me for doing all that. … I’m afraid many of my old colleagues haven’t done the same. Too many fellow preachers, jacked up on their cultural spite, aren’t producing the peacemakers Jesus blessed in his Sermon on the Mount. Instead, they’ve spawned a new breed of sanctimonious warriors. Until the insurrection, I saw these new soldiers of the cross as paper tigers, quick to comment on Facebook but otherwise carping cowards in the digital shadows. After Jan. 6, I now see them mobilized for literal urban warfare.”

I’m certain many Christians are horrified about what transpired on January 6. They are fuming with righteous indignation over the manner in which their beloved church has been overrun by extremists and insurrectionists. I personally know many Christians who are neither extreme or intent on overthrowing the government. Which is why I recommend this easy solution for freeing oneself of the tarnish of being associated with being a modern-day Christian: Leave the church.

Many former Christians have already left the church – and for good reason. If the church is no longer a force for good in the world, and it is your intent to do good in this life, then leave the organization. Go and apply your skills and talents in other areas of life where you can be effective.

About Scott R. Stahlecker
Scott Stahlecker is a former minister and now writes for Thinkadelics about the joys and benefits of living as a freethinker. He is the author of several books, as well as the previous owner of several hospice agencies. You can read more about the author here.

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24 responses to “Christianity’s Role in the Insurrection: A Historical Precedent?”

  1. There’s been a great deal of commentary on the white Christian nationalism on display at the January 6th siege of the Capitol. The name of God was everywhere, invoked by men and women claiming to wear God’s armor as patriot soldiers protecting the soul of an exceptionalist nation. Josh Hawley, a Christian nationalist senator who egged on their false belief that the recent presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump, raised his fist in solidarity with those gathered. The blood of Jesus was said to be “covering this place,” as prayers rang out pleading that “the evil of Congress be brought to an end.” Members of Christian militias that spread lies about Muslims were in abundance, as were marks of anti-Black racism, anti-Semitism, and Holocaust nostalgia. It was a menagerie of Trumpian evangelicalism, as far from what many other Christians see as the gospel of Jesus as it seems possible to be.

    Some Christian critics saw more of the occult than the orthodox in the QAnon conspiracies fueling the rioters’ aspirations to be liberators; to be sure, it’s hard to tell the difference between evangelicalism and occultism these days, and the lines are so blurred that the terminology hardly matters anymore. From multiple origins, a conglomeration of superhero narratives have converged, luring countless numbers of Americans to see themselves as, in Ross Douthat’s words, “actors in a world-historical drama, saviors or re-founders of the American Republic.” Analyzing the Capitol insurrectionist whose military gear included patches sporting slogans like “Armor of God” and “God will judge our enemies. We’ll arrange the meeting,” Peter Manseau marvels at “the danger of comic book notions of faith meeting comic book notions of nation,” concluding, “We are being held hostage by permanent adolescents.” The armed so-called freedom fighters are doing their best to bring their comic book, their superhero movie, their violent video game, or their Book of Revelation revenge fantasy (isn’t it all the same?) to real life, and their target list includes all of us who don’t accept their reality.

  2. Hmmmm, permanent adolescents. Yes. At work, I left an office because it was filled with manbabies. Their desks were covered with superhero bobblheads and Lego constructions of all descriptions, they ran around the office most of the day shooting Nerf guns at each other and knocking down cubicle walls and knocking computers off desks, and on the rare occasions they were actually at their desks, men in their 30s and early 40s would whine to each other about how terrible their lives were, usually because the MEAN women in their lives wouldn’t let them have any fun. One described how he bullied his young wife to breast-feed their baby because “breast is best”, but then described how his wife’s body looked and the way the breastmilk smelled in the most demeaning and disgusting ways. Then he threw a tantrum because the wife had a breast infection because of her breastfeeding, and wanted to go to the doctor without the baby (so she could focus on the doctor). He raged that it wasn’t his job to “babysit”. Another raged when his wife’s emergency appendectomy required an overnight stay in the hospital, because that interfered with his regular pub-crawl night.

    Adolescents, indeed…except they’re armed and deadly.

  3. LOL, that was a previous office. I’m working with people with adult minds now. The experience did open my eyes to the number of grown adult men who are still mentally about 12 years old.

    The shocking thing was the attitude of management toward the mental children. When I went to my boss and his boss about it, their response was that running with around Nerf guns, knocking over monitors, was a fun thing and that’s why people came to that job. When I countered that nobody could get their work done, their response was that’s why they hired women, to get the work done. I was outta there, a little bit smarter about picking jobs.

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