A coalition of over 100 pastors, seminary leaders and prominent figures within the evangelical community has condemned the role of “radicalized Christian nationalism” in the U.S. Capitol building insurrection on January 6. In an open letter, this group made their concern about Christian nationalism clear and try to warn their colleagues about the growing danger of radicalization among evangelicals — particularly white evangelicals.
The letter reads in part,
We recognize that evangelicalism, and white evangelicalism in particular, has been susceptible to the heresy of Christian nationalism because of a long history of faith leaders accommodating white supremacy. We choose to speak out now because we do not want to be quiet accomplices in this on-going sin.
As the letter notes, the violent mob incited by former President Donald Trump was festooned in Christian paraphernalia, from crosses to “Jesus Saves” signs. One member of the mob led a prayer from the Senate rostrum. The terror that swept through the Capitol left five dead and 140 injured, and brought new attention to the scourge of Christian nationalism.
White evangelicals were vital to Trump’s 2016 electoral victory and were his administration’s most ardent supporters, even as his time in the Oval Office was plagued with scandal. White evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham and Robert Jeffress made regular appeals to Trump’s defense both on cable news and on their powerful social media channels. Many white evangelicals believed Trump’s false claims of election fraud after last year’s loss to President Joe Biden, and a recent survey from American Enterprise Institute found that three in five white evangelicals continue to believe that Biden is not the legitimate president.
The letter not only condemns Christian nationalism’s role in all this, but pledges to back up their words with actions.
As NPR notes, Mae Elise Cannon of the ecumenical group Churches for Middle East Peace called for more white evangelical leaders to join their fight against Christian nationalism. She said some evangelical leaders declined to sign their letter out of fear for how their congregations would react.
“White evangelical brothers and sisters, where are you?” Cannon said. “There’s a few of us on this call today, but let me tell you how many people said ‘no.’ ”
Last year, RELEVANT published a deep dive into Christian nationalism, featuring an interview with Amanda Tyler who launched Christians Against Christian Nationalism in 2019. She told us that “Whenever the state gets too cozy with Christianity, Christianity is the one that gets compromised.”
“Our radical Christian values are not in line with the powers and principalities of this state,” she continued. “Jesus taught us that we are citizens of two kingdoms, an earthly kingdom ruled by our governments and God’s kingdom. We have to work out what we render to which kingdom.”