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How Christian nationalism paved the way in which for Jan. 6

WASHINGTON (RNS) — On June 1, 2020, then-President Donald Trump marched throughout Lafayette Sq. outdoors the White Home, trailed by an anxious-looking workforce of advisers and army aides. The group shuffled previous detritus left by racial justice protesters after a frantic mass expulsion executed by police minutes prior with golf equipment, pepper balls and tear gasoline.

The dignitaries stopped in entrance of St. John’s Church, the place presidents, together with Trump, have historically attended companies on their Inauguration Day. St. John’s, which had suffered a minor fireplace the day earlier than, was closed. However Trump took up a place in entrance of its signal and turned towards the cameras, a Bible held aloft.

“We’ve the best nation on the earth,” Trump said. Within the distance, sirens wailed.

Washington’s Episcopal bishop, whose diocese consists of St. John’s, condemned Trump’s stunt, saying it left her “horrified.” However White Home chief of employees Mark Meadows declared he was “by no means prouder” of the president than in that second, calling it a rejection of “the degradation of our heritage or the burning of church buildings.” Trump’s evangelical Christian advisers had been equally effusive, lauding the picture op as “vital” and “completely appropriate.”

On reflection, the “symbolic” message of Trump’s Bible picture op, as he termed it, operates as a bookend to the Christian nationalism on show on the assault on the U.S. Capitol seven months later. It communicated, nevertheless histrionically, that the president was main an existential battle towards politically liberal foes calling for a racial reckoning, however on the middle of which was an assault on Christian religion. From that second on, Christian nationalism — within the broadest sense, a perception that Christianity is integral to America as a nation and will stay as such — supplied a theological framework for the hassle to disclaim Democrats the White Home.

As Trump’s ballot numbers dipped the identical month because the picture op, his marketing campaign redoubled efforts to fire up help amongst his conservative Christian supporters. Then-Vice President Mike Pence launched into a “Religion in America” tour, whereas Trump carried out interviews with conservative Christian retailers and held rallies at white evangelical church buildings.

RELATED: For insurrectionists, a violent faith brewed from nationalism, conspiracies and Jesus

On this Jan. 6, 2021, file picture, a person holds a Bible as Trump supporters collect outdoors the Capitol in Washington. The Christian imagery and rhetoric on view through the Capitol rebel are sparking renewed debate concerning the societal results of melding Christian religion with an exclusionary breed of nationalism. (AP Photograph/John Minchillo)

Referring to “American patriots,” Trump instructed rallygoers at Dream Metropolis Church in Phoenix: “We don’t again down from left-wing bullies. And the one authority we worship is our God.”

In August on the Republican Nationwide Conference, Trump described early American heroes as individuals who “knew that our nation is blessed by God and has a particular goal on this world.” Pence, in his speech, tailored Christian Scripture by swapping out references to Jesus with patriotic platitudes.

Regardless of then-candidate Joe Biden’s public dialogue of his Catholic religion, and the overt religiosity of the Democratic Nationwide Conference, Donald Trump Jr. instructed the GOP crowd that “Individuals of religion are beneath assault” in the US, pointing to restrictions on massive gatherings because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But it was Trump’s spiritual supporters who did the attacking the ultimate evening of the RNC. After leaving the conference’s fireworks-filled celebration on the White Home, conservative Christian commentator and Trump loyalist Eric Metaxas was filmed punching an anti-Trump protester off his bike and fleeing into the evening, solely admitting to the assault days later in an e-mail to Faith Unplugged.

After Trump misplaced the election in November, a report from the Baptist Joint Committee for Non secular Liberty and the Freedom From Faith Basis concluded that Christian nationalism, additionally known as white Christian nationalism, was used to “bolster, justify and intensify the January 6 assault on the Capitol,” in keeping with BJC’s Amanda Tyler.

RELATED: New report details the influence of Christian nationalism on the insurrection

In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, Pastor Paula White leads a prayer in Washington, at a rally in support of President Donald Trump called the "Save America Rally." (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

On this Jan. 6, 2021, file picture, Pastor Paula White leads a prayer in Washington, at a rally in help of then-President Donald Trump referred to as the “Save America Rally.” (AP Photograph/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Within the days after the vote, Florida pastor Paula White, chief of the White Home religion workplace, preached a sermon from her residence church by which she referred to as on “angels” from Africa and different nations to help in overturning the election outcomes. The subsequent evening, insisting she was solely addressing “non secular” issues, White vacillated between the ethereal and the electoral: She entreated the Almighty to “hold the toes of POTUS in his goal and in his place” and decry any “fraud” or “demonic agenda” that “has been launched over this election.”

“We override the desire of man for the desire of God proper now, and we ask, by the mercy and the blood of Jesus, that you just overturn it, overturn it, overturn it, overturn it, overturn it, overturn it, overturn it,” she said.

The spiritual rhetoric ramped up with the hassle to “Cease the Steal.” Hundreds of Trump’s supporters descended on Washington in mid-November for the “Million MAGA March,” the place Ed Martin, a conservative politician and an government on the Eagle Discussion board, flanked by indicators studying “Jesus issues,” argued that the US was “based on Judeo-Christian values” and shouldn’t be led by “CNN … or faux information.” Martin referred to as on God to “bless us in our work” and requested God to “strengthen us in our battle” to defend Trump as a result of the “powers of darkness are descending.”

Across the identical time, activists started planning a sequence of  “Jericho Marches” throughout the nation, invoking the biblical story of Israelites besieging the town of Jericho. In Pennsylvania, demonstrators marched across the state Capitol waving Trump flags and blowing on Jewish ritual horns referred to as shofars. Verses of the hymn “How Nice Is Our God” combined with chants about electoral fraud.

Women blow shofars during the Jericho March on Jan. 5, 2020, in Washington. RNS photo by Jack Jenkins

Ladies blow shofars through the Jericho March on Jan. 5, 2020, in Washington. RNS picture by Jack Jenkins

The most important “Jericho March,” on Dec. 12 in Washington, was emceed by Metaxas and included Trump-circle figures resembling disgraced former nationwide safety adviser Gen. Michael Flynn and present Pennsylvania gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano. Stewart Rhodes, the chief of the militant group Oath Keepers, who now faces sedition expenses for his alleged position within the Capitol assault, called for the marchers to affix him in a “bloody warfare” if the election outcomes weren’t overturned.

A number of teams took on a spiritual bent as Jan. 6 approached. Members of the Proud Boys, a right-wing group recognized for clashes with leftist protesters, prayed close to the Washington Monument in December, evaluating their “sacrifice” to Jesus’ crucifixion. “God will watch over us as we turn out to be proud,” one man shouted into a bullhorn. (The subsequent night, Proud Boys — after being prayed over by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones — tore “Black Lives Matter” indicators from Washington-area church buildings, setting one on fire.)

Jericho Marchers had been among the many 1000’s who descended on Washington in January, some touring on buses paid for by Mastriano. On Jan. 5, a bunch processed around the U.S. Capitol, holding indicators emblazoned with Trump’s face whereas as soon as once more blowing shofars and singing “How Nice Is Our God.” That evening, Tennessee pastor Greg Locke —along with lifting up prayers for the Proud Boys — preached to a raucous crowd, describing America as “the final bastion of Christian freedom” and declaring that Trump would keep “for 4 extra years within the White Home.”

RELATED: How the Capitol attacks helped spread Christian nationalism in the extreme right

The subsequent day on the Nationwide Mall and the Capitol steps, Christian nationalist iconography was unavoidable. Women and men waving flags that learn “An Attraction to Heaven” or “Proud American Christian” surged previous Capitol police because the officers tried to halt these coming into the Capitol constructing. When folks adorned in Oath Keepers apparel stormed into the Capitol rotunda, they appealed to the Almighty for “letting us get up for our nation.” 

In the Senate chamber, the invaders invoked Jesus’ identify and bowed their heads as a self-described “shaman” related to the QAnon conspiracy principle motion thanked Jesus for “permitting” them “to eliminate the communists, the globalists and the traitors inside our authorities.”

As District of Columbia police officer Daniel Hodges, who was crushed in a door by insurrectionists that day, put it: “It was clear the terrorists perceived themselves to be Christians.”

That was definitely the case with Jenny Cudd, who was later tried and convicted for her actions on the Capitol. In a video posted to Fb on Jan. 6, Cudd, draped in Trump-branded gear, stated: “We had been based as a Christian nation. And we see how far now we have come from that. … We’re a godly nation, and we’re based on godly ideas. And if we wouldn’t have our nation, nothing else issues.

“To me, God and nation are tied — to me they’re one and the identical,” stated Cudd. 

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