Hundreds of US evangelical leaders rebuke 'heresy of Christian nationalism'

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)Security in the U.S. Capitol for Donald Trump's inauguration in 2017.

Hundreds of evangelical Christian leaders have condemned the "heresy of Christian nationalism," which they believe has led to political extremism and helped spur the pro-Trump insurrection against the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

A letter on on Feb. 24 signed by more than 1,400 religious leaders describes Christian nationalism as "a version of American nationalism that is trying to camouflage itself as Christianity."

The church leaders said it was "a heretical version of our faith," The Hill reported as the link between Trumpism and white evangelical beliefs persist.

"As leaders in the broad evangelical community, we recognize and condemn the role Christian Nationalism played in the violent, racist, anti-American insurrection at the United States Capitol on January 6," in the attack on the building that houses the U.S. Congress..

"While we come from varied backgrounds and political stances, we stand together against the perversion of the Christian faith as we saw on January 6, 2021. We also stand against the theology and the conditions that led to the insurrection."


In the meantime a golden statue of former President Donald Trump has turned into the talk of the Conservative Political Action Conference taking place in Orlando, Slate reported Feb. 27.

Many on Twitter were quick to recall the Old Testament story of the golden calf that angered Moses.

"Idol worship isn't conservative. #RestoreOurGop," Representative Adam Kinzinger, who was one of 10 House Republicans to vote in favor of impeaching Trump, wron Twitters. . Zegan pushed back against the comparison.

(Image: Providence Lithograph Company)Worshiping the golden calf, as in Exodus 32:1-35, illustration from a Bible card published 1901 by the Providence Lithograph Company

"It's not an idol," said artist Tommy Zegan who titled the work, "Trump and his Magic Wand." He said, "I know the biblical definition of an idol. This is not an idol. This is a sculpture."

The statue has Trump wearing a suit jacket with white shirt and red tie plus American-flag shorts nad has drawn much attention at CPAC. Trump is also wearing sandals and is holding a magic wand, a reference to how former President Barack Obama once said Trump didn't have a magic wand to bring back manufacturing jobs to the United States.

Signees of the "heresy" 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 's election defeat. Dozens of Capitol Police officers were also injured in the attack.

"Our faith will not allow us to remain silent at such a time as this. We are also aware that our world needs more than a statement right now... we need action. We will do our best to be faithful to Jesus, and to those Christ called 'the least of these,'" the letter reads.

For Trump, white evangelical Christians were a key base of support since his 2016 presidential campaign, with about eight in 10 voters from the religious demographic voting for Trump in 2016 and again in 2020, Newsweek reported.

During the Jan. 6 attack against the U.S. Capitol by a horde of Trump's supporters, many carried Christian banners or symbols as prominent evangelical Christian leaders.

They had for weeks promoted Trump's false claims that widespread voter fraud led to President Joe Biden's electoral victory ahead of the riot.

The signers said that 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."

"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. What we saw manifest itself in the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, is a threat to our democracy, but it is also a threat to orthodox Christian faith," they said.

They said the word "Christian" means "Christ-like."

"As leaders in the Church, we do not agree on everything, but we can agree on this -- Christians should live in a way that honors Jesus, and reminds the world of Him."


They said that on Jan. 6 they "saw the flags claiming Trump's name, calling for violence, and raising the name of Jesus."

"We saw images of a police officer being beaten with an American flag and another being crushed in a doorway."

The singers said they have witnessed the rise of violent acts by radicalized extremists using the name of Christ for its validity in the past, noting the deadly actions in Charlottesville in 2017.

"We join our voices to condemn it publicly and theologically.

"We recognize that evangelicalism, and white evangelicalism in particular, has been susceptible to the heresy of Christian nationalism because of a long history of faith leaders accommodating white supremacy."

On Jan. 28 the Rev. Walter Kim, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, in an interview, citing the corrosive effects of "a convergence of a nationalist identity and a Christian identity." The Associated Press reported.

"Certainly I love our country, and as the son of immigrant parents I am deeply grateful for the hope this nation represents," Kim said. "But as a Christian, my highest allegiance is to Christ."

A form of the Chiristian natiional faith was on display in front of the Capitol the day before the Jan. 6 attack, when the hundreds of Trump supporters massed near the building for a "Jericho March."

"The event's name was a reference to the biblical account of Israelites besieging the city of Jericho in the Book of Joshua, a religious tale liberal religious activists have also invoked for their own events, Religion News Service reported.

(Reuters/Johnathan Ernst)President-elect Donald Trump is blessed by Christian leaders.
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