Friday, January 22, 2021

Red Ant Evangelicals Enmeshed In Revolution Against The Government?

newrepublic |  These Christians apparently believe that they had no choice but to try to overthrow the Congress. For months, various evangelicals have claimed in sermons, on social media, and during protests that malicious forces stole the election, conspired to quash Christian liberties, and aimed to clamp down on their freedom to worship and spread the Christian gospel. They felt sure that the final days of history were at hand and that the Capitol was the site of an epochal battle. As one evangelical from Texas told The New York Times, “We are fighting good versus evil, dark versus light.”

Much has been made about the evangelical community’s relationship to Donald Trump. And typically, observers tend to view this alliance as purely transactional, with nose-holding evangelicals pledging their support to this least Christian of men in order to get something in return—most notably, a trio of religiously conservative Supreme Court justices. This dominant interpretation also treats Trump as the apotheosis of a shape-shifting brand of grievance politics that unites and permeates all factions of the right, very much including the evangelical movement. But what is less understood—and what the Capitol riot revealed in all its gruesome detail—is the extent to which Trump channels the apocalyptic fervor that has long animated many white evangelical Christians in this country.

For the last 150 years, white evangelicals have peddled end-times conspiracies. Most of the time their messages have been relatively innocuous, part of the broader millenarian outlook shared among most major religious traditions. But these conspiracies can have dangerous consequences—and sometimes they lead to violence. Every evangelical generation throughout American history has seen some of its believers driven to extreme conspiracies that blend with other strains of militant political faith. This has meant that in the Trump era, with the destabilizing impact of a global pandemic and a cratered economy, white evangelical Christianity has become enmeshed with, and perhaps inextricable from, a broader revolution against the government.

And so an insurrection in the name of Jesus Christ broke out in tandem with the Trump voter fraud putsch. The action is also, in all likelihood, a prophetic foretaste of where this group might go once Trump is finally out of office.

Evangelical apocalypticism is grounded in a complicated and convoluted reading of the biblical books of Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation, some of the most violent books in the Bible. When read in conjunction with one another, and overlaid with some of Jesus’s and Paul’s New Testament statements, they reveal a hidden “plan of the ages.” The word apocalypse comes from the Greek word apokalypsis—an unveiling or uncovering of truths that others cannot see.