By SUSAN K. SMITH
Crazy Faith Ministries
The memory of members of the Jan. 6 mob that attacked the United States Capitol is still raw on many levels, but perhaps the most disturbing memory is that of the violent insurrectionists stopping to pray while they were bashing the Senate chamber, as reported by ReligiousNews.com.
Someone was heard to say, “Jesus Christ, we invoke your name!” and Jacob Chansley asked the group to stop their riotous behavior long enough to “lift up holy hands in this sacred space.”
Members of the mob, while calling out and calling on the name of Jesus were not Christians, if Christianity is defined as the religion wherein people believe in and follow the commands of Jesus the Christ.
Some say that Christian nationalism is the belief that America is defined by Christianity, but there is a problem in that statement in that Christian nationalists, while using the name of Jesus to support their political ideology, do not follow or apparently respect the tenets taught by the Christ. They have reshaped the religion brought to this world by the Christ into a religion that many scholars say Jesus himself would not recognize. They believe that America is a Christian nation, shaped by Christian men.
But that is not the case; the Founders of this country were very adamant about stating that this nation was not a Christian nation and many of them were not Christian at all, but were, rather, Deists. While they believed that Jesus existed, they rejected the metaphysical aspects of his time here on earth, i.e., they rejected the stories of the miracles he performed.
While Jesus’ ministry taught that all people were worthy of the love of God, and therefore, were included in the space called the “Kingdom of God,” Christian nationalists – the majority of whom are White – insist that Christianity demands that people work to maintain racial and cultural differences. Their religion is far more secular than they would admit – prayers in the Senate chamber notwithstanding – because their goal is to use the title Christianity as the affirmation of their white supremacist beliefs, according to ChristianityToday.com.
Not all Christians who adhere to the principles of Christian nationalism are White. Given the political direction of Christian nationalists and based on the statements they have made publicly about Conservative political beliefs, such noted Blacks as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and the recently defeated candidate for the governorship of California, Larry Elder, seem to fit right into the group. And while many Black congregations identify as being Conservative, as defined by Angela K. Lewis in her African American Conservatism: A Longitudinal and Comparative Study, Black Christian nationalism was defined by the Rev. Albert Cleage in 1967, when he launched the Black Christian Nationalist Movement. But his idea of Christian nationalism is different from White Christian nationalism in that he “called for Black people to reinterpret Jesus’ teachings to suit the political, economic and social needs of Black people,” as documented by PBS’ This Far By Faith. Mark Burns and Darrell Scott and other Black Trump supporters would probably decry and criticize Cleage’s idea of Black Christian nationalism, according to The Faith of Black Politics: The Relationship Between Black Religious and Political Beliefs.
It is offensive to me personally to hear persons lift the name of Jesus while they espouse policies that are as antithetical to the lessons that Jesus taught as they could possibly be. It will be interesting to note, as these “Christians” continue to mow through the structures and the institutions of this country in their goal to establish themselves as the “true” Americans who have a right to claim their rights while denying rights to so many others who, they would teach, Jesus never intended for them to include in the messages contained in the Gospel.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. She is available for speaking. And she is an award-winning author for her latest book, “With Liberty and Justice for Some: The Bible, the Constitution, and Racism in America,” available through all booksellers. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.