I was ready to upload a blog post when domestic terrorists flooded the U.S. Capitol with the predictable outcome. In light of that, I am saving the planned post “Hooters and Smoke Breaks” for a later time and have written more relevant thoughts below.
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I had things to do on January 6. Most of them didn’t get done.
Like many of you I was glued to the TV, watching a dangerous, far-right invasion of the U.S. Capitol building. Also like many of you, there were a couple of hours in the afternoon when I wasn’t sure what the outcome might be. No, I wasn’t concerned about a coup – I was concerned about peace, safety, reason.
The scenes were surreal. Tellingly, Trump flags outnumbered the Stars and Stripes and a Confederate flag patrolled the halls after the mob gained access. Almost lost in the whole muddle were the baseball bats, spears, handguns, pipe bombs, molotov cocktails, a truck with stashed weapons, and a cache of zip-tie handcuffs(!). A temporary gallows and noose were erected. A wooden cross. An Aushwitz t-shirt. The latest number is five people dead, two violently.
But disruption of a Congressional work day was the least important thing that happened in that caldron of fear and anger. Most sobering of all was that the rampaging crowd was blindly motivated, then enflamed, by the self-serving lies of a sociopath.
Paradoxically, crosses and Jesus slogans floated through the crowd along with the extremist idols. The pulse of the crowd was dangerously anti-Christ, or as Republican Senator Ben Sasse described it, “wicked”.
Who could have seen this insanity coming?
Rational people, that’s who.
dancing with the devil
It was always going to end in some bizarre way. June 6 was the obvious and natural consequence of dancing with the devil – playing along with the lies and manipulations of the past four-plus years. I’m not even sure we have seen the worst yet.
But my frustration has never been been directed at Donald Trump only – he has always been a broken person. There are plenty of fingers to be pointed but in my mind there is one culprit that rises above the rest: conservative evangelicals. Not all are complicit of course, but far too many are.
In the 2016 election 82% of evangelicals voted for Trump. Without overwhelming evangelical support his crime family would never have occupied the White House in the first place. Nevertheless, even after four consecutive years of lies, chaos and open immorality, the number only dropped to 79% in the 2020 election.
Both fundamentalists and charismatics have been willing bed-partners with Trump for years, buying into his world because he said the things they wanted to hear. From Paula White to Franklin Graham to John MacArthur to the My Pillow guy, they walked in lock-step with conspiracy theorists, criminals, Russian spy agencies, and white supremacists.
Unsurprisingly, Trump never cared about the court evangelicals but allowed them to pray and preen around him in order to milk their support. Their lust for power was fuelled by their own ambition, stubbornness, and narrow view of God. They blurred their beliefs and misled millions of good people to do the same. In fact, they sacrificed us all on the altar of their idolatry.
Someone posted this quote from Voltaire: “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” Just watch the violent video of the the sadistic, clawing crowd crushing the police officer in a doorway. By definition a mob is violent, irrational and selfish – a picture of evil.
The insurrectionists were still on the grounds of the capital when right wing sources began repeating the now disproven theory that Antifa was involved. This fits with their pattern of showing no remorse or concern for the most horrendous acts, then redirecting blame onto someone else. Watch for it: this calloused gaslighting technique is pure manipulation and brainwashing, and is common among Trump evangelicals.
Even after the insurrection, six senators continued their pro Trump conspiracy-theory objections to the electoral college vote: two Southern Baptists, one Evangelical Presbyterian, one Church of Christ, one a founding member of a United Methodist church, and one non-denominational christian (supported by the evangelical Family Research Council).
All are evangelicals, and part of another kind of mob.
If evangelicals say they are surprised or disappointed by the events on Capitol Hill, don’t believe them – rational people could see all along that Trump was a narcissist and serial abuser. But if there are some who innocently didn’t see him for what he was, ignore them too because they lack basic insight and wisdom.
Character still matters and there are many of us who have been paying less and less attention to Trump-like evangelicals. We have seen them but we’re tired of living under their cloud of drama. We see them, but we’re beginning to look away.
For me, one of the lowest points of the last four years was when police drove demonstrators out of the Washington streets in order to make a path for the President to stand in front of a church and desecrate my faith with a bible in his hands.
But even worse was the swell of christians who didn’t care that brothers and sisters were expressing their pain of racism. Evangelicals on social media practically fell over themselves to replace the “Black Lives Matter” slogan with their own self-righteous verdict that “All Lives Matter”. A social media mob had formed without concern for the real struggle of others, and I even knew some of them.
Their over-the-top dismissal of BLM was a knife to my gut. And very telling. Of course all lives matter – no rational person suggested differently. But for some reason people from my own tribe were so insecure that they had to make the marches about themselves. Ironically, they seemed fearful about the same racism BLM were marching against.
To be clear, evangelicals have a wonderful history of caring about important issues but it seems these days they are better at focusing on their own privileged side roads.
In the days before the capitol was ransacked, a christian group of ‘Jericho Marchers’ gathered at the Supreme Court to pray that God would cause the court to reverse the election for Trump. They paraded around the Supreme Court seven times, carrying Trump flags, singing How Great Is Our God, and blowing shofars. If these activities make sense to you (and you know what a shofar is), then you live in an evangelical bubble more concerned about political influence and goofy symbolism than with the true Kingdom of God.
Communion is a christian statement: Jesus’ body was broken and his blood was shed for us. When we taste the bread and wine it is easy to forget that it was a self-serving crowd of religious bigots who killed him. Jesus was broken by the mob, and he was broken for the mob.
We are the mob.
But brokenness brings healing and perhaps this event was our brokenness. Gladly, there are finally some who are coming out, admitting their idolatry and repenting. That’s why I am very hopeful – the loving ways of Jesus are always our final, desperate, best answer.
If you are a Trump-leaning evangelical, I feel badly that you live in such turmoil – it’s time to surrender to forgiveness, to joy, to peace. To rebirth. Repentance is a very non-Trump act and requires the sort of humility and courage that was common in the evangelical faith I grew up in.
And as the final days count down, I implore you to do something very evangelical: stop praying for Donald Trump the President and begin praying for Donald Trump the person.
Once again my dear friend you are the heart of me in your words. I am still (and always will be) shocked. I cannot pray for him, I never have been able. But I can and will pray for his followers.