The Christian Nationalists, neo-Nazis, racists and anti-government militia who attacked the U.S. Capitol and our democracy on Jan. 6 have been roundly denounced. But the Freedom From Religion Foundation believes it is also important to call to account the Christian Nationalist views of most of the 147 disruptors inside Congress who voted later that night to deny the will of the voters.
More than a quarter of the members of Congress taking shelter for their lives while a seditious mob rampaged through the heart of our democracy ended up siding with the insurrectionists to try to deny Joe Biden his lawfully won presidency. What do we know about these members of Congress, including eight senators? Besides being all Republican, mostly white and mostly male, what do they have in common?
Their religious identity. And more than that, the Christian Nationalist flavor of their religious views (145 of the 147 identify as Christian; the exceptions are Reps. David Kustoff and Lee Zeldin, both Jewish). Almost half of the 138 House members who objected to the Electoral College count were evangelical Christians.
A disproportionate number of members of Congress claim to be Christian (88 percent versus 65 percent of the general population), but fully 98 percent of the certification naysayers identify as Christian. Many who voted to overturn the presidential election fall into religiously extremist categories.
Christian Nationalists believe, by definition, that the United States is or should be a Christian nation, actively seek to pass laws to privilege religion and Christianity, and impose their religious views on all citizens. They want to turn the godless U.S. Constitution upside down, granting sovereign authority to their “King, the Lord Jesus,” rather than “We the People.” That would be a theocracy, not a democracy.
Although some of these Christian Nationalists who voted not to certify the election results are newcomers, the majority are previously seated members with standard resumés, but with declared zealous views. Almost all are stringently opposed to abortion and LGBTQ rights, typically bragging of perfect 100 percent scores from the National Right to Life Committee and Heritage Action For America. Most are dyed-in-the-wool archconservatives, also with high ratings from the NRA and a variety of other ultraconservative lobbying groups. Many proudly trumpet their Christian Nationalist beliefs, are publicly prayerful and evince hostility to the separation between state and church.
It is not unusual for these members of Congress to list church membership on their official bios, and to add that they’ve served as deacons or taught Sunday school. They invariably proclaim their anti-abortion views prominently on their campaign websites. Many have made the news for controversial views.
“Our nation is properly examining the white supremacist, anti-government, Christian Nationalist ideologies of the insurrectionists who broke into the Capitol to steal the election,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. “But many members of Congress share at least some of these extremist views, and are essentially dedicated to overthrowing the secular principles of our government.”
Attached are short synopses documenting the Christian Nationalist voting records and pronouncements of the eight senators who opposed certification, and a representative sampling of the views of House members who voted unsuccessfully to nullify the will of the electorate.
“Christian Nationalists strive for a theocracy, a A ‘kingdom of Jesus,’” says FFRF Co-President Dan Barker, himself a former evangelical minister and author of several books about rejecting religion. “That is a betrayal of American principles.”
“Obviously,” Barker adds, “public officials are free to worship as they like. Our Constitution properly guarantees there can be no religious test for public office. But public officials must be held responsible when their allegiance to religious ideology trumps their allegiance to the Constitution.”