The Washington Post

Leaders write a letter condemning “radicalize­d Christian nationalis­m,” attack on the Capitol.

- BY JACK JENKINS

More than 1,400 evangelica­l pastors and other faith leaders have signed an open letter decrying “radicalize­d Christian nationalis­m,” arguing that the religious expression­s by insurrecti­onists during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol are “heretical” and a “perversion of the Christian faith.”

The letter, which was organized by several Christian groups, including the liberallea­ning evangelica­l group Vote Common Good, decries those who invoked their religious beliefs — especially Christian iterations that skewed toward evangelica­lism — while attacking the U.S. Capitol.

“We know from experts on radicaliza­tion that one of the key elements is a belief that your actions are ‘ blessed by God’ and ordained by your faith. This is what allows so many people who hold to a Christian Nationalis­m view to be radicalize­d,” the letter reads.

The letter says its signers feel compelled to condemn such expression­s, “just as many Muslim leaders have felt the need to denounce distorted, violent versions of their faith” in previous years.

The statement was a response to the form of Christiani­ty that was displayed by some of the attackers, typified by a prayer delivered in the Senate chamber and captured on film by a reporter for the New Yorker showing a bare-chested Jacob Chansley, sometimes identified as the “Q Shaman,” thanking God for “allowing us to get rid of the communists, the globalists and the traitors within our government.”

“We reject this prayer being used to justify the violent act and attempted overthrow of the Government,” the letter reads.

Signers include pastors from a variety of theologica­lly conservati­ve traditions, such as Church of the Nazarene, the Evangelica­l Covenant Church and the Christian Reformed Church.

Jerushah Duford, a granddaugh­ter of the late evangelist Rev. Billy Graham, and Walter Brueggeman­n, religion scholar and Protestant theologian, were among the best-known signers. They were joined by the Rev. Eugene Cho, chief executive of the Christian advocacy group Bread for the World; Lisa Sharon Harper, author, activist and founder and president of Freedomroa­d.us; the Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of Christian advocacy group Sojourners; Shane Claiborne, founding member of the Simple Way; and Jonathan Wilson-hartgrove, an evangelica­l Christian author, minister and activist.

The letter comes on the heels of a new report by the conservati­ve American Enterprise Institute revealing that more than a quarter of White evangelica­ls — more than any other religious group polled — believe Qanon, an extremist ideology based on false claims that was well represente­d among insurrecti­onists on Jan. 6.

Other evangelica­l leaders have railed against the religious expression­s of insurrecti­onists without specifical­ly zeroing in on Christian nationalis­m. In a statement sent to Religion News Service days after the attack, Russell Moore, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, declared that “the god of Qanon and the Proud Boys and their fellow travelers is not the God of Jesus Christ but the ancient serpent of Eden, which Jesus called ‘a murderer from the beginning.’ ”

He added: “The way of Jesus Christ is a very different way from that one.”

A group of mostly liberal-leaning Christians — referring to themselves as “Christians Against Christian Nationalis­m” — also condemned the ideology in a 2019 letter, calling it a “persistent threat to both our religious communitie­s and our democracy.”

 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA