As Americans reflect on the anniversary of the attempted violent overthrow of our democracy this week, the Freedom From Religion Foundation reminds them that a primary driver of that Capitol attack was Christian nationalism.
Although the goal — to prevent Congress from certifying the results of a free and fair election — was not achieved, our national psyche has been shaken to the core. Five individuals died as a direct result of the putsch on Jan. 6, 2021, and two police officers died by suicide in the days following. The insurrectionists caused $1.5 million in damage to the seat of our government. The investigation of the insurrection is ongoing, but more than 700 people have been arrested and charged in connection with the attack.
The mob didn’t hide who they were. The insurrectionists made it brazenly clear that they were attacking the Capitol in order to overturn an election in the name of Jesus, Trump and their god. One attacker carried a Christian flag into the Senate before rifling through senators’ desks, and others claimed the Senate chambers for Jesus.
Christian nationalism was not only a major motivation and justification for the attack, but also represented the viewpoint of most of the members of Congress who voted against certifying the results of a free and fair election. FFRF documented the Christian nationalist leanings of those members shortly after the attack. Would-be insurrectionists within Congress and on Fox News continue to sow division, deny or excuse the insurrection.
FFRF has been sounding the alarm over Christian nationalism for years and is working to educate about the role the ideology played on Jan. 6. The role Christian nationalism played on Jan. 6, 2021, will be the focus of an upcoming episode of “Freethought Matters,” FFRF’s television show. And members of FFRF should keep their eyes open for an important article in the upcoming January/February issue of Freethought Today.
“American democracy and Christian nationalism cannot coexist,” says Andrew L. Seidel, FFRF director of strategic response. He has written extensively about Christian nationalism and the role it played in the Jan. 6 insurrection, including in a new epilog for his book, The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism is Un-American. “If we continue to ignore this threat,” Seidel, adds, “we’ll lose America—we came very close to losing our secular republic last Jan. 6.”
FFRF has called on the January 6 Committee to investigate the Christian nationalist motivation of the insurrection.
“Congress must investigate the major role Christian nationalism played in the attempted coup. It’s vital to recognize that the threat is not over,” concludes Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. “The white supremacist, Christian nationalist ideologies that led in part to Jan. 6, 2021, remain a danger to our democracy and to the civil and secular underpinnings of our government.”
FFRF is a national state/church watchdog founded in 1978, with more than 35,000 members.
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