Last Wednesday, I watched the certification of the Electoral College votes. I didn’t know such a thing even existed until this year. However, I decided to watch to see if there would be any crazy protests and to watch our government continue to waste time on an unimportant certification.
I saw what I expected to see. There were excited Democrats and a group of resigned Republicans ready to certify Joe Biden as the next President. Then there were other Republicans buying into the propaganda that President Trump preaches almost daily (or pretending in order to pacify Trump supporters in their districts.) There was a little bit of everything. There was arguing, intolerance, anger, and even applauding. You know, all of the stuff that happens when Congress has a get-together.
But then came the insurrection!
What followed was chaos and calamity created by a group of far-right Trump supporters. Images of hostile takeovers and video that looks like something out of a movie flooded our screens as we looked on in horror. News reporters and pundits tried to make sense of what they are witnessing.
In the thick of things, you hear certain pundits saying things like, “This isn’t the way our country is!”, and “These are not our values!” Apparently, these pundits have been living under a rock for the past four years. What happened on Wednesday is exactly what our country has become. These are exactly what our values are. Our country elected Donald Trump as President, knowing full well this could be an outcome. How else could the story of Donald Trump end?
What’s more, it took an insurrection for members of Congress to (mostly) come together with bipartisan resolve condemning the role President Trump played in the violent insurrection in our nation’s capital (and subsequent events at state capitals as well.) It was during that frightful time that many within Congress were confronted with the consequences of their actions right before their eyes.
One important distinction that is important to make is the difference between those who stormed the Capitol and those who stayed outside and were largely peaceful.
One thing you could not help but notice if you watched the whole protest was the number of Christian flags sprinkled throughout the American flags (and other more insidious ones) being flown. Some were American flags wrapped in the Ichthus (the little fish-like symbol), Christian flags, flags of Jesus, and even a Jesus loves you sign (ironic, I know).
Anyone in a church that has a political mixture of people knows that white nationalism is a significant issue. But I think the sight of all of those Christian flags associated with that kind of violence was eye-opening for many conservatives and fundamentalists who watched everything unfold from home. For me, it was the sheer volume of Christians who attended the rally that was both eye-opening and disappointing. It reminded me just how integrated white nationalism is within evangelicalism.
A Final Thought About the American Flag
I was raised to respect our country, the American flag, and our military. I was not raised in a religious or white nationalist home, but I was raised in a home that was proud to be American. Throughout my life, I maintained this proud American worldview – even after I became a Christian. However, I never found the need to combine the two. It has always been the case that my religious life trumps my patriotism and not the other way around.
It wasn’t until Donald Trump was elected that all of that patriotism vanished. I began to abhor seeing American flags being flown alongside Trump flags because I knew those flags were not in support of the type of country, I could be proud of; They were there to support a person – the president. For the first time that I can remember, I was embarrassed to be an American.
The American flag no longer represents what I was raised to believe. It doesn’t represent freedom because millions in our country don’t share the same privileges, I have due to inequality. It doesn’t represent opportunity because millions in our country are not given the same opportunities that I have had.
To me, it will be difficult to see anything other than violence when I view a flag, at least for a while. To watch violent protestors wrapped in an American flag – or Christian images – has been branded onto my brain. Until a whole magnitude of changes is made to the culture of our country, I doubt I will ever be able to enjoy the flag with the child-like like innocence I once had.
It seems to me that the insurrection was a wake-up call for a stale Congress that has done very little to help the American public over the last 4 years and who largely thinks of politics as one big game. And, hopefully, it was a wake-up call for Christians on the far-right to understand that there are real-world consequences to their actions. Who knows, our memory is short. Perhaps this time next year we will have forgotten January 6th and the lives that were lost for a cause that was full of lies and deceit.