The invasion of the US Capitol building in Washington provides a handy snapshot of American Christianity. Simply put, one group accepts that Trump supporters mounted what Joe Biden called an “insurrection”, but others accuse the leftist Antifa group of infiltrating the President’s rally and turning a peaceful rally into a riot. At this stage there is no solid evidence of an Antifa presence. On the other hand, at least one “Jesus” flag is pictured inside the Capitol. Does this capture a fault line within God’s people?
Those who blame Antifa
Eric Metaxas, author and talk radio host: “There is no doubt Antifa infiltrated the protesters today and planned this.”
Franklin Graham, Samaritans Purse and Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in a Religious News Service report: “They have a right to protest. To tell people to go home, it’s not for me to decide that. The people who broke the windows in the Capitol did not look like the people out there demonstrating. Most likely it was Antifa. For people busting windows, they need to go home. But for people standing out there peacefully holding flags, and protesting, they have every right to do that.””
Robert Jeffress, Pastor of megachurch First Baptist Dallas, a Southern Baptist and on Donald Trump’s faith advisory council: “Disobeying and assaulting police is a sin whether it’s done by Antifa or angry Republicans”
Kevin McCullough, talk back radio host on the Salem Network: “Today was unacceptable. Likely carried out by Antifa thugs and BLM supporters pretending to be among those who believe in America. All of it cowardly and unacceptable.”
Matt Gaetz, Republican Congressman from Florida, and a Southern Baptist, retweeted The Washington Times article claiming that a facial recognition company had identified Antifa members in the Capitol. The Daily Mail reported he told the House there was ‘some pretty compelling evidence from a facial recognition company showing that some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters, but were masquerading as Trump supporters, and in fact were members of the violent terrorist group Antifa.’ The facial recognition company has denied the report.
South Carolina’s Pastor Mark Burns, labelled by Time as “Trump’s Top Pastor”, tweeted “This is NOT a Trump supporter…This is a staged #Antifa attack.” Unfortunately for Burns the man in the picture has been identified as Jake Angeli, a QAnon follower.
Those who simply condemned the violence, without deflecting
Ralph Reed, a leading conservative Christian campaigner and Chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition: “Resort to mob violence has no place in the life of our nation, and I condemn and repudiate it. It does not represent our movement or the cause of Christ.”
Albert Mohler, President Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: “What we are seeing in Washington now is the refutation of our American commitment, a form of unleashed anarchy which is the enemy of ordered liberty, and President Trump is responsible now for unleashing mayhem.”
Ethicist Russell Moore a council member of The Gospel Coalition: “How can this be our country? As I watched on television images of angry mobs pouring into the United States Capitol, my hands were trembling with rage. A friend who has served for many years in government texted, “This looks like the fall of Rome to me.” He also tweeted “Here’s my article today at @TGC on Christian witness after the despicable insurrection we saw today.”
Rick Warren, author and Southern Baptist pastor: “Armed breaching of capitol security behind a confederate flag is anarchy, unAmerican, criminal treason and domestic terrorism.”
Beth Moore, teacher and preacher: “I don’t know the Jesus some have paraded and waved around in the middle of this treachery today. They may be acting in the name of some other Jesus but that’s not Jesus of the Gospels.”
Adam Hamilton heads the largest Methodist church on the US: “What’s happening right now in Washington DC, at the President’s urging, is not okay. I trust our democracy, our institutions – this will be resolved. Praying for law enforcement and legislators and leaders managing a volatile situation. Unbelievable”
Lecrae, Christian hip hop recording artist and activist who campaigned for Senate candidates Warnock and Ossoff: “idolatry on full display today.”
Foley Beach, Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America “I write to you from our College of Bishops meeting, and like many of you I am deeply concerned about the unrest in the United States Capitol today. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34
Please join me in praying for the United States of America”
Christianity Today columnist and missiologist Ed Stetzer: “When peaceful protests, at times, turned into riots in the wake of the death of George Floyd many people (including Trump supporters en masse) condemned them out of hand. Now, Trump faithful are storming the Capitol.”