Major Christian leaders asked Jan. 6 committee to investigate Christian nationalism

WASHINGTON (RNS) — A team of prominent Christian leaders, which includes the heads of main denominations, say they submitted a letter previously this 12 months to the Residence choose committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, urging members to look at Christian nationalism and arguing the ideology played a very important job in the insurrection.

Organizers of the letter, which has not beforehand been disclosed, advised Faith News Services they were being approached by a committee investigator on the topic. The ensuing statement, dated June 2, was facilitated by Christians Versus Christian Nationalism, an energy orchestrated by the Baptist Joint Committee for Spiritual Liberty.

“The ideology of Christian nationalism helped inspire and intensify the insurrection,” the letter reads in part. “We request the Committee to carefully investigate the purpose that Christian nationalism performed in the assault. This investigation into Christian nationalism is vital so that historical past does not repeat by itself and so that we realize this threat to our country’s historic motivation to spiritual liberty and the value of defeating it.”

Representatives for the House committee did not immediately answer to requests to ensure the faith leaders’ account of why the letter was drafted, or to make clear whether or not the committee pursued their ask for and investigated Christian nationalism particularly.

The letter notes the Christians From Christian Nationalism marketing campaign commenced at the very least 18 months in advance of the insurrection took position. That is why, signatories argued, they “recognized the presence of Christian nationalism at the Capitol on that fateful working day.” The letter also referenced a report released in February by the BJC and the Independence From Religion Foundation detailing the purpose Christian nationalism played in the assault.

“As Christian leaders who are deeply involved about Christian nationalism and its danger not only to our constitutional democracy but in its distortion of Christianity, we urge you to concentrate questioning and dialogue on Christian nationalism and the function it performed in bolstering, justifying and intensifying the January 6 assault,” the letter reads.

In addition to BJC head Amanda Tyler, signers of the letter included popular faith leaders these kinds of as the heads of mainline and traditionally Black denominations. Between the signatories is the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church the Rev. David Peoples, president of the Progressive Countrywide Baptist Convention the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in The usa the Rev. Jimmie R. Hawkins, director of several Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) advocacy workplaces Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, interim president and general secretary of the Countrywide Council of Church buildings the Rev. John C. Dorhauer, common minister and president of the United Church of Christ and the Rev. Paul Baxley, govt coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Activists and scholars who have been outspoken about Christian nationalism also signed on, these as Shane Claiborne, head of Red Letter Christians the Rev. Jennifer Butler, founder of Religion in Community Existence scholar and author Jemar Tisby Mary J. Novak, head of the Community Foyer for Catholic Social Justice Anthea Butler, chair of the office of religious scientific tests at the College of Pennsylvania and Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners and director of the Center on Religion and Justice at Georgetown University.

The letter speaks to increasingly vocal criticism of Christian nationalism amongst faith leaders, normally led by mainline Christian and Black Protestant voices. The Christians Towards Christian Nationalism statement by itself has accrued much more than 30,000 signatures. Institutions this kind of as Georgetown have hosted events condemning the ideology, and a recent hard work spearheaded by activist group Faithful The united states decried many general public figures and activists who espouse iterations of Christian nationalism as “fake prophets.

Spiritual leaders have also protested in close proximity to stops together the ReAwaken The us tour, a touring function recognised for controversial ideal-wing speakers who fuse conspiracy theories with fervent Christian nationalism. A group structured by Trustworthy The united states and Phrase and Way is setting up to stage a further such protest when the tour comes in Missouri this weekend.

Numerous evangelical leaders condemned Christian nationalism in the wake of the insurrection, as did Jewish, Muslim and other non-Christian leaders as nicely as secular groups.

Connected: How Christian nationalism paved the way for Jan. 6

Numerous letter signatories have been concerned in opposing Christian nationalism for some time. Within just weeks of the insurrection, the Christians Towards Christian Nationalism hard work organized an on the web function to explore how Christians can react to Christian nationalism, that includes the heads of two of the most significant mainline Protestant denominations in the country, Curry and Eaton.

Both of those earlier had signed on to the BJC’s 2019 letter calling on Christians to thrust back again against fusions of religion and govt that the letter suggests are distortions of their faith.

“We reject this damaging political ideology and invite our Christian brothers and sisters to sign up for us in opposing this menace to our faith and to our country,” the 2019 letter read through.

The ELCA’s Churchwide Assembly also experienced passed a resolution at its 2019 denominational assembly naming violent rhetoric in the title of Christian nationalism as “not a genuine Christian faith.”

“It is idolatry and we condemn it,” the resolution examine.

The ELCA, the biggest Lutheran denomination in the U.S., reiterated that declaration in a tweet posted Wednesday (Nov. 2) together with an impression looking at, “I’m a Christian in opposition to Christian Nationalism.”

“Christian Nationalism is a threat to the gospel and to American democracy,” the tweet reported.

Associated: How Christian Nationalism Grew to become a Main Character in the Midterms + Jack Jenkins (PODCAST)

At the very least one particular member of the Residence choose committee, Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, was briefed about Christian nationalism previously this yr by Tyler and many others, and the lawmaker was initially slated to talk at an Interfaith Alliance occasion previous thirty day period on Capitol Hill focused on the subject. Raskin also publicly acknowledged the position “white Christian nationalism” played in the insurrection through multiple community appearances this year, and fellow committee member Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois has equally condemned Christian nationalism by title. Kinzinger instructed Christianity Currently the ideology “100%” contributed to the Capitol attack.

“Had there not been some of these errant prophecies, this plan that God has ordained it to be Trump, I’m not sure January 6 would have took place like it did,” Kinzinger said.

Andrew L. Seidel, 1 of the authors of the joint BJC-FFRF report chronicling Christian nationalism’s role in the insurrection, explained earlier this year he prepared to mail his testimony to the committee.

But the ideology was not straight mentioned through the Jan. 6 hearings them selves. As an alternative, lawmakers normally centered on the faith of people impacted by the Jan. 6 assault, these as prayers explained that working day by then-Vice President Mike Pence.

There was at least a single indirect reference to Christian nationalism throughout the hearings, nonetheless. In July, District of Columbia law enforcement officer Daniel Hodges, who was among the all those who rushed to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to protect it from insurrectionists, mentioned during his testimony the existence of Christian symbols — including ones that fused faith with the U.S. flag or images of weaponry — amid the group. Customers of that exact same group would afterwards attempt to crush Hodges in a doorway as he screamed in agony, a harrowing instant documented in now notorious footage from that day.

“It was crystal clear the terrorists perceived them selves to be Christians,” Hodges explained. 

This tale was generated beneath a grant from the Stiefel Freethought Basis.

Bessie Venters

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