Hundreds of evangelical Christian leaders have condemned the “heresy of Christian nationalism,” which they believe has led to political extremism and helped spur the pro-Trump insurrection against the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
A letter released on Feb. 24 on saynotochristiannationalism.org describes Christian nationalism as “a version of American nationalism that is trying to camouflage itself as Christianity.”
The church leaders said it was “a heretical version of our faith,” The Hill reported as the link between Trumpism and white evangelical beliefs persist.
“As leaders in the broad evangelical community, we recognize and condemn the role Christian Nationalism played in the violent, racist, anti-American insurrection at the United States Capitol on January 6,” in the attack on the building the houses the U.S. Congress..
“While we come from varied backgrounds and political stances, we stand together against the perversion of the Christian faith as we saw on January 6, 2021. We also stand against the theology and the conditions that led to the insurrection.”
Signees of the letter include some prominent megachurch leaders including David Swaim of the Highrock Covenant Church and Rev. Kevin Riggs of the Franklin Community Church, as well as Jerushah Duford, granddaughter of the late Rev. Billy Graham.
“To watch the events of January 6 unfold and to see ‘Jesus Saves’ banners and ‘Jesus 2020’ signs made me angry,” Riggs said in a statement accompanying a news release.
CONSERVATIVE EVANGELICAL PASTOR
“As a conservative evangelical pastor in the South, I wanted to add my name to this statement declaring Christian Nationalism is not only wrong, it is heretical and antithetical to the teachings of Jesus.”
Five people died when rioters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 in the hopes of preventing the congressional certification of former President Trump’s ‘s election defeat. Dozens of Capitol Police officers were also injured in the attack.
“Our faith will not allow us to remain silent at such a time as this. We are also aware that our world needs more than a statement right now… we need action. We will do our best to be faithful to Jesus, and to those Christ called ‘the least of these,'” the letter reads.
For Trump, white evangelical Christians were a key base of support since his 2016 presidential campaign, with about eight in 10 voters from the religious demographic voting for Trump in 2016 and again in 2020, Newsweek reported.
During the Jan. 6 attack against the U.S. Capitol by a horde of Trump’s supporters, many carried Christian banners or symbols as prominent evangelical Christian leaders.
They had for weeks promoted Trump’s false claims that widespread voter fraud led to President Joe Biden’s electoral victory ahead of the riot.
The signers said that over the centuries, there are moments when “the Church, the trans-national Body of Christ-followers, has seen distortions of the faith that warranted a response.”
“Just as many Muslim leaders have felt the need to denounce distorted, violent versions of their faith, we feel the urgent need to denounce this violent mutation of our faith. What we saw manifest itself in the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, is a threat to our democracy, but it is also a threat to orthodox Christian faith,” they said.
They said the word “Christian” means “Christ-like.”
“As leaders in the Church, we do not agree on everything, but we can agree on this — Christians should live in a way that honors Jesus, and reminds the world of Him.”
They said that on Jan. 6 they “saw the flags claiming Trump’s name, calling for violence, and raising the name of Jesus.”
“We saw images of a police officer being beaten with an American flag and another being crushed in a doorway.”
The singers said they have witnessed the rise of violent acts by radicalized extremists using the name of Christ for its validity in the past, noting the deadly actions in Charlottesville in 2017.
“We join our voices to condemn it publicly and theologically.
“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.”