Your support is helping expand Progressive Christianity. We are one of the largest sources for progressive theological perspectives, as well as our thousands of resources. It is hard to overstate their value – every time you donate it expands our ability to do all those essential offerings even better. DONATE NOW!

January 6 and Beloved Community

 

Evangelical Leaders Statement

The attack on  the Capitol on January 6, 2021, was a low point in the ongoing struggle against dark forces in the American character. It was also another moment when leaders of Christian churches betrayed the message of Jesus while claiming to uphold Christian principles.

The predominately white evangelicals in the Trump base have consistently embraced any statement or action by the former president as blessed by God. Efforts by notable evangelicals like John Fea and Peter Wehner failed to disconnect evangelicals from the Trump base during his term of office. Heading into the election of 2020, Ron Sider edited The Spiritual Danger of Donald Trump in which 30 evangelicals renounced Trumpism and supported the election of Joe Biden. After the election of Biden, Trump’s evangelicals supported the Big Lie, the attack on the Capitol, and the ongoing effort in the last year to undermine nonpartisan election administration.

A group called Red Letter Christians is continuing efforts to renounce evangelical support for Trumpism. They are circulating a statement to be signed online and endorsed in video readings. The statement is long and focuses too narrowly on evangelicals as the Christians who must renounce nationalism, white supremacy, and xenophobia. The power of the statement is its prophetic directness in calling out false substitutes for humanitarian and spiritual values represented in the Beloved Community—the Kingdom of God updated to reflect inclusiveness beyond what Jesus’s contemporaries would have understood.

I also believe the Beloved Community needs support from leaders of all sorts, not just ministers. Teachers, first responders, low-paid essential workers, and political leaders are some of the most needed supporters of this statement against an alliance of religion with nationalism, racism, and xenophobia.

Anyone who affirms the love of God and neighbor at the heart of the Beloved Community—no matter your religion, approach to spirituality, or nonreligion—should sign the online statement. It is time to recognize January 6 as a call to action against one-party authoritarian rule that will impose religious values combining evangelicalism and white nationalism.

On January 6, 2022, and in the months ahead, let us step up to defend our democratic constitutional form of government from an unholy alliance of nationalism and authoritarianism with false religion.

 

Edward G. Simmons is a Vanderbilt Ph.D. who teaches history at Georgia Gwinnett College. He is a Bible scholar, Unitarian Christian, and Sunday School teacher in a Presbyterian Church. He is the author of Talking Back to the Bible and two chapters in The Spiritual Danger of Donald Trump: 30 Christian Evangelicals on Justice, Truth, and Moral Integrity edited by Ronald J. Sider.

Review & Commentary