By Canon Rev Dr Rod Garner
There was a lot of hate on show as the US Capitol was attacked by the mob a week ago.
Actively encouraged by the most divisive and lying President that America has ever elected, marchers carried guns, rifles and Confederate flags.
Some also proudly displayed large crosses, signs and banners declaring, ‘Jesus Saves’ ‘ and ‘ Say yes to Jesus.’ Someone yelled, ‘Shout if you love Jesus’ and the crowd cheered. It was followed by ‘Shout if you love Trump’, and the cheering was even louder.
Jesus and Trump, seemingly brothers in arms.
A gathering of Christians under the banner of the Jericho March declared that their aim was to banish the ‘darkness of election fraud’ and ensure that ‘the walls of corruption crumble.’ This was after the American people had legally and, by a large majority, expressed their will at the ballot box to elect a new President.
The marchers had not been persuaded. They quoted from their bibles, about Joshua blowing down the walls of Jericho, ‘a city of false gods.’
Sixty two spurious legal appeals to change the election result had been rejected by judges but this too made no difference to them. They were marching under Jesus’ banner and it was God’s will to keep Trump in the White House.
The day after the attack on the Constitution that defines and seeks to safeguard the political and religious values of America, a poll showed that 44% of Republicans – mostly white, and many Christian – supported a protest that ended in violence, vandalism and death.
In 2016 and 2020, white Evangelicals overwhelmingly supported Trump, some ready to assign a prophetic role to him – the one who ‘would clean the swamp’ and ‘make America great again.’
That promise of American greatness recalled the moment when Trump walked on to the Inaugural platform four years ago.
Watching him punch his fist in the air like a boxer, and subsequently enduring the relentless lies that began with immediate effect, it was evident that this President neither understood nor cared anything for the biblical requirements to walk humbly, and to be merciful, truthful, and just in all things.
On all these accounts and more, he failed conspicuously. Ready at any moment to sacrifice colleagues, principles and the political process itself, he was driven by the corrosive forces of rampant egoism, the will to power, and the obsession to win, whatever it took.
Yet huge numbers of Christians refused to acknowledge his unfitness for office. They turned a blind eye to his conduct, made excuses for his vile and inflammatory rhetoric, or even more astonishingly, sought to justify his behaviour: ‘he’s a rough diamond, we needed a strong leader, politics is a dirty business, he’ll stop the drift to the Left…’
However legitimate their concerns about the social, moral and political fabric of the nation, such Christians were either bewitched by a cunning operator, formidably adept at exploitation, manipulation and coercion, and failed to see through him; or they read their bibles, heeded their pastors’ sermons, and convinced themselves that Donald was their guy, even better, God’s guy for the job in hand.
After the trashing and shooting was over in the Capitol building and its elected members finished the business of confirming a new President, the Senate chaplain, Barry C. Black deplored its desecration and the shedding of blood before praying for healing and unity in a divided nation.
More prayers and a lot more penance and heart-searching will be required in the coming weeks on the part of those who obeying God, or the Bible, or their Saviour took part in insurrection.
From their scriptures they may recall that Jesus wept over Jerusalem. There can be little doubt that Jesus would weep much more over the current plight of America, and the damage inflicted on its soul by the marchers acting in his name.
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