I, like most of you, have been deeply shaken this week. I have spent the past couple days processing what my role is right now – first as a Christian, second as an American.
For today, I believe it’s necessary to speak out against the growing influence of white Christian nationalism. We saw the devastating consequences of that influence on Wednesday. I can’t get out of my mind the images of a mob carrying crosses and Christian banners alongside Confederate and Trump flags, as others in the crowd erected a gallows and stormed the Capitol.
Many Christians are being led down an increasingly radical path by blind political loyalties. White Christian nationalism is influencing so many who have no idea what they’re dabbling in. It is dangerous, and it is antithetical to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I can’t say it any clearer than that.
Christian friends, I beg you: Recognize what is happening. Do not allow yourself to be led any further down this path. This isn’t about liberals versus conservatives. So much of what we’re now hearing on the right is in direct contrast to traditionally conservative political values. We are called to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. What I have seen growing amongst friends and neighbors – people I truly care about – is neither.
Misinformation has been weaponized. For many, the basic understanding of reality itself is threatened. This is how radicalization works. It convinces you not to trust objective sources and leads you to rely on partisan information to the exclusion of all else. Social media algorithms steer you toward increasingly more extreme ideas, and in turn influence others in your circles. More and more people are unmoored from a factual foundation. Confidence in institutions and expertise is at an all-time low, so we distrust official information. We “do our own research,” which often means we believe whatever validates our preferences. Unprincipled leaders are free to take full advantage, and spineless ones go along. In response, social media platforms and other organizations scramble to address rampant misinformation in ways that raise serious questions about free speech.
I don’t believe it’s an exaggeration to say that (not for the first time) our republic is teetering on a precipice. We are each responsible for our role in what happens now.
But even more importantly, Christians are responsible for what happens to our witness. We are not each other’s enemies. We are fellow followers of God. A faithful walk with Him will result in unity through a higher calling. Who are we really following: Christ, or others using His name?
I’ll keep wrestling on my knees with what my role is in these very strange days. Perhaps this is the time we’ve been waiting for. May we each be found faithful.
P.S. If your first instinct is to comment “but Black Lives Matter” or “but election fraud,” please don’t. I value respectful dialog, but constructive conversation does not appear to be possible around that kind of false equivalency or misinformation. If you’re not willing to reevaluate your positions and loyalties in light of this week’s events, we’re probably not going to get anywhere here.