Evangelical leaders launch nationwide push against extremism
More than 200 faith leaders in the evangelical Christian movement signed on to a letter this week decrying “Christian Nationalism” and its role in the Jan. 6 riot that overwhelmed the U.S. Capitol.
A letter released Wednesday on saynotochristiannationalism.org describes Christian nationalism as “a version of American nationalism that is trying to camouflage itself as Christianity,” which the church leaders said was “a heretical version of our faith.”
“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. In ages past, the Church has responded by holding emergency councils in order to unilaterally denounce mutations of the Christian faith, and to affirm the core values at the heart of Christianity,” the evangelical leaders wrote.
“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,” they continued.
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. “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 election defeat. Dozens of Capitol Police officers were also injured in the attack.
Numerous people including figures connected to right-wing white nationalist and militia groups have been arrested in connection to the Jan. 6 violence, and the FBI’s Washington, D.C., field office is currently searching for dozens of others.