For reporters who braved the chaos, the Jan.6 riot on Capitol Hill offered a buffet of weirdos – a crowd of Proud Boys, QAnon Prophets, ex-US servicemen and radicalized supporters of Donald Trump who turned are crushed through the security lines and, thus, into history.
Many protesters at the Save America legal rally carried placards, flags and banners with slogans such as “Jesus is my Savior, Trump is my President” or just “Jesus 2020”. In this context, “Jesus saves” took on a whole new meaning.
Some of this symbolism was washed away in the illegal attack on the United States Capitol.
In its poll of major religious events in 2021, members of the Religion News Association offered this description of the main story: “Religion takes center stage in the January 6 assault on the United States Capitol. United by pro-Trump insurgents. Some express Christian prayers, while others display Christian or pagan symbols and slogans inside and outside the Capitol.
Consider, for example, Jacob Anthony Chansley – or Jake “Yellowstone Wolf” Angeli. With his coyote skin and buffalo horn headdress; red, white and blue face paint; and Norse torso tattoos, self-proclaimed shaman QAnon, UFO expert, and metaphysical healer became the instant superstar of this mix of political, religious, and digital conspiracy theories.
“Thank you, Heavenly Father… for this opportunity to defend our God-given inalienable rights,” he said in a video of his remarks in the US Senate from the Vice President’s chair. “Thank you, Divine, Omniscient, Omnipotent and Omnipresent Creator God for filling this room with your white light and your love. Thank you for filling this room with patriots who love you and who love Christ. …
“Thank you for allowing the United States of America to be reborn. Thank you for allowing us to get rid of communists, globalists and traitors in our government.
It was a loud voice. A big question to be answered, in future trials and the United States House Inquiry, is whether it is true – as the New York Times claims – that “the most extreme corners of the world?” Support for Mr. Trump has become inextricable from parts of the white evangelical power in America. For this to be true, investigators will need to find connections between the illegal Jan. 6 attack and evangelicals in major denominations, mega-churches, publishers, and para-ecclesiastical groups, as well as seminaries, colleges and the universities.
Here is the rest of the 2021 RNA Top 10 list:
(2) In Afghanistan, Taliban forces are re-imposing a strict Islamic regime after the withdrawal of American troops. Many refugees flee by airlift, while thousands are left behind amid fears for religious minorities, women and other dissidents. It was my choice for the best story of the year.
(3) The United States Supreme Court is considering the Mississippi case to overthrow Roe v. Wade and the current legal culture of abortion rights in the United States. A decision is expected early next summer.
(4) Thousands of government and private sector workers are calling for religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine mandates, raising tough questions about religious freedom. The vast majority of religious leaders support vaccines, but many question government mandates.
(5) Joe Biden becomes the second Catholic president of the United States, sparking controversy with his public displays of faith – mixed with words and deeds supporting abortion rights, same-sex marriage and evolving forms of gender theory. American bishops are considering how to defend the church’s teachings on Holy Communion. RNA members select Biden as Journalist of the Year.
(6) Gallup reports that membership in U.S. faith groups fell below 50% for the first time in the eight decades the organization has studied this issue. Only 47% of Americans say they belong to a church, synagogue or mosque in 2020.
(seven) The coronavirus pandemic continues to affect religious life, with in-person worship levels remaining below pre-2020 levels. A Barna Research study notes that nearly 40% of Christian clergy are seriously considering resigning, burnout being highest in liberal Protestant denominations.
(8) Investigators in Canada uncover hundreds of anonymous graves in former residential schools for Indigenous children, focusing criticism on religious groups in North America who operated such schools. Several Canadian churches are set on fire or vandalized.
(9) Popular Bible teacher Beth Moore cuts ties with Southern Baptist Convention editorial branch dismayed by what she calls “sexism” and “misogyny” within the SBC, including widespread support to Trump despite his bragging about sexual exploits with women.
(ten) Despite reeling from resignations and email leaks, the Southern Baptists reject a push to the right at their annual convention and approve an inquiry into its executive committee’s handling of sexual abuse accusations.
Terry Mattingly conducts GetReligion.org and lives in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is a principal investigator at the Overby Center at the University of Mississippi.