Religion and the Capitol Attack

What we know about those arrested for the 6 January insurrection.

Michelle Boorstein, WaPo religion reporter, provides a fascinating if anecdotal picture in her report “A horn-wearing ‘shaman.’ A cowboy evangelist. For some, the Capitol attack was a kind of Christian revolt.”

Late last month, one of the accused Jan. 6 Capitol insurrectionists told a D.C. judge that she didn’t recognize his authority and was making a “divine special appearance.” Another one of the accused streams a solo religious service each week that he calls “Good Morning Sunday Morning.” A third runs a 65,000-subscriber YouTube channel where she shares Bible verses and calls herself a “healer of deep inner wounds.”

Pauline Bauer, Stephen Baker and Jenna Ryan were among the thousands who descended on the Capitol in protest of what they falsely called a stolen election, including some who saw themselves engaged in a spiritual war. For many, their religious beliefs were not tied to any specific church or denomination — leaders of major denominations and megachurches, and even President Donald Trump’s faith advisers, were absent that day. For such people, their faith is individualistic, largely free of structures, rules or the approval of clergy.

Many forces contributed to the attack on the Capitol, including Trump’s false claims of electoral victory and American anger with institutions. But part of the mix, say experts on American religion, is the fact that the country is in a period when institutional religion is breaking apart, becoming more individualized and more disconnected from denominations, theological credentials and oversight.

That has created room for what Yale University sociologist Phil Gorski calls a religious “melee, a free for all.”

“There have been these periods of breakdowns and ferment and reinvention in the past, and every indication is we’re in the middle of one of those now,” he said. “Such moments are periods of opportunity and creativity but also of danger and violence.”

Some scholars see this era as a spiritually fertile period, like the ones that produced Pentecostalism or Mormonism. Others worry about religious illiteracy and the lack of supervision over everything from theological pronouncements to financial practices.

Even before Jan. 6, some sociologists said the fastest-growing group of American Christians are those associated with independent “prophets” who largely operate outside denominationalism. Less than half of Americans told Gallup in March that they belonged to a congregation, the first time that has happened since Gallup started asking in the 1930s.

Many Christians at the Capitol on Jan. 6 were part of more conventional, affiliated faith, including pastors, Catholic priests and bused-in church groups. But what researchers studying Jan. 6 find remarkable are the leaderless, idiosyncratic expressions of religion that day. Among them are those of Bauer, who wrote to a judge last month that she’s a “free living soul” and an “ambassador of Christ,” and of Jake Chansley, the “QAnon Shaman” who prayed to Christ at a dais in the Senate and calls himself a “multidimensional being.”

“Those who are unmoored to a local church body are subject to the danger of allowing politics or business or sports or any other matter to become an inordinate focus of their lives. This problem is compounded by the effort to ‘bless’ such actions with a religious patina,” Adam W. Greenway, president of Southwestern Baptist, one of the seminaries of the Southern Baptist Convention, told The Washington Post of the trend of DIY Christianity. “Pastors help their members keep matters in perspective and avoid Lone Ranger Christianity in which they are unaccountable to fellow believers.”

Some have found in recent years a growing overlap between White Americans who put a high value on individualism and libertarianism and those who embrace Christian nationalism, a cultural belief that America is defined by Christian identity, heritage and social order and that the government needs to protect it. They are now looking at the way Trump’s presidency united disparate groups — largely White— under the umbrella of Christian nationalism.

But Christian nationalists are not necessarily religious by conventional metrics, such as going to church, being part of a religious organization or scripture reading. Several studies in recent years have found differences between Christian nationalists who are religious and those who are less so.

Americans who have Christian-nationalist beliefs who do not attend church are more likely to have voted for and support Trump, compared with those who attend more regularly, said Paul Froese, a sociologist at Baylor University who published a paper on the topic in January.

For such people, Froese’s paper says, affirming a kind of “mythical or even sacred” Christian nationalism can become a key part of their religious observance, one that comes from sources outside traditional church.

“You have people who have these idiosyncratic relationships with God — you’re sort of taking off on your own,” Froese told The Post. “You can say, ‘God told me whatever.'”

Robert Pape, a University of Chicago political scientist who studies political violence, said his research on the Jan. 6 insurrectionists suggests what he has seen with other extremist movements: Where religion plays a role, it’s not due to deep indoctrination or education.

Such individuals “tend to have a thin knowledge and understanding of their religion,” Pape said. “Recruits tend to be making individual decisions about the ideologies they want to follow and even what it means. It’s very much at the level of the individual.”

What’s not evident from this report is how many of the 500-odd people charged with crimes in relation to the 6 January Capitol attack were Christian nationalist* folks. Was it a predominant characteristic of the group? Or a mere handful?

My strong guess is that it’s the latter and that Boorstein is straining to view the attack through a religious lens. Indeed, the cited report by Samuel Stroope, Paul Froese, Heather M. Rackin, and Jack Delehanty is an analysis of Trump voters in the 2016 election and has no mention of the Capitol attacks; indeed, it was likely submitted to the peer review process long before that incident. The abstract:

Prior research found that Christian nationalism was strongly associated with voting for Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. However, the effects of Christian nationalism may depend on voters’ religiosity. Using national data, we assess whether the association between Christian nationalism and Trump support differed for churchgoers and nonchurchgoers and find that Christian nationalism is not significantly associated with Trump support among churchgoing voters. Instead, Christian nationalism is only significantly associated with Trump support among unchurched voters. These results suggest that while religious sentiments remain key correlates of political attitudes and behavior in the United States, these ties may have less to do with embeddedness in traditional religious organizations and more to do with the ways people use religious narratives in everyday life to construct and defend symbolic boundaries. At a time when fewer Americans attend religious services, religious narratives about Christian nationhood may have their strongest political effects when, and perhaps because, they are detached from religious institutions.

The Pape report, by contrast, focused on the Capitol attack but hardly says anything at all about religion. It is almost entirely about white fears of a Great Replacement by Blacks and non-white Hispanics. Additionally, his team found that the early group of those arrested are quite different from those arrested in other rightwing violence: they were much less likely to be associated with a known militia or gang, they were much more likely to be from a county that voted for Biden, they were older, and they were relatively well off socioeconomically.

Turning to the larger society, Pape’s team found that, while 74 million Americans (29%) believe the election was stolen, “only” 10 million (4%) believe violence is justified to rectify the situation. What separated that 4% from the rest? Far and away the biggest drivers were a belief in the Great Replacement and the consumption of more than 7 hours of social media on a daily basis. Indeed, the latter by a factor of 632%. Conversely, they were only modestly more likely to be Christian but, surprisingly considerably less likely to believe the End Times were near.

The bottom line, then, is that, while there seems to be good reason to believe that there is less adherence to traditional religious denominations and an increase in those looking for something to replace that, there’s not much evidence that this has much at all to do with the riots. The only actual study cited of the rioters, in fact, found that it was a mobilization by then-President Trump of people who spent a lot of time on social media who believed in a Great Replacement.

*A previous version of the post used “Christian Identity,” which is an overlapping but different movement.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Capitol Riot, Donald Trump, Religion, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Kathy says:

    Some of it seems like the natural result of Sola Scriptura and American individualism.

    4
  2. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy:

    You can safely assume you’ve created [your god] in your own image when it turns out that [your god] hates all the same people you do. – Anne Lamott

    I can’t help but think that on some level this is just people inventing their own flavor of divine support for their fk’ed up shenanigans.

    30
  3. Scott says:

    Most of the posters here are not surrounded by the religious milieu that permeates much of the United States. There are a lot of variations on a theme but the predominant one is that much of the United States, the government, the elites, the left, etc. are trying to suppress their “religious liberty” no matter how they define it. So it doesn’t really matter whether they are doctrinally coherent or actually theologically correct, or any of those sociological constructs in which we try to place them and analyze the situation.

    I am surrounded by evangelical megachurches (including Cornerstone, led by Rev John Hagee, and an End Times church) and the people who attend. There are also dozens of store front churches led by evangelical entrepreneurs who preach the highly individualistic doctrines that are alluded to here. Although there is a lot of Bible study going on, there is no deep bench of theological thought that goes into meaning and therefore, huge differences in meaning. It is Sola Scriptura gone wild. Not unexpectedly, meaning is much more influence by individual’s personal experiences and prejudices.

    Bottomline: Trump, for some unGodly reason, strikes a chord with them. As a practicing Christian (Episcopalian) in a denomination that is built on three principals (Scripture, Tradition, and Reason), most of us are repelled by Trump and see him for the charlatan he is.

    It is hard to understand but their idea of faith is tied together with their idea of America. Attacking their faith and attacking America is one and the same.

    18
  4. drj says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I can’t help but think that on some level this is just people inventing their own flavor of divine support for their fk’ed up shenanigans.

    You just described every religion ever.

    11
  5. CSK says:

    The article mentions a Jenna Ryan. Wasn’t Jenna Ryan the Texas realtor who hopped a private plane to D.C. to participate in the insurrection, and then later insisted she was misled by Trump, embarrassed by what she did, and thus deserving of a pardon?

    3
  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “Those who are unmoored to a local church body are subject to the danger of allowing politics or business or sports or any other matter to become an inordinate focus of their lives. This problem is compounded by the effort to ‘bless’ such actions with a religious patina,”

    However, if one is moored to a church body, than it’s not at all dangerous to mix politics or business or sports or any other matter with religion and in fact it is a good thing to ‘bless’ such actions with a religious patina.

    “Pastors help their members keep matters in perspective and avoid Lone Ranger Christianity in which they are unaccountable to fellow believers.”

    Yep, keeping people focused on the bogeyman of the day is what religion is for, and besides, what good are sheep if you don’t ever shear them?

    “You have people who have these idiosyncratic relationships with God — you’re sort of taking off on your own,” Froese told The Post. “You can say, ‘God told me whatever.’”

    And how is that different from any organized religion? I mean besides the shearing of the sheep. The hypocrisy is deep with these people.

    6
  7. drj says:

    @Scott:

    It is hard to understand but their idea of faith is tied together with their idea of America. Attacking their faith and attacking America is one and the same.

    For many people Christianity is not something that you do, but something that you are.

    What (in their opinion) is under attack is their identity. Christianity (like whiteness) is part of that identity, so that’s something that must be expressly defended – even if they don’t go to Church or read the Bible.

    8
  8. JohnSF says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    Because any longer lived institutionalised religion has made its compromises with reality and rationality.
    They had to in order to function as institutions.
    They were forced to learn the lesson that they cannot shape actuality according to whim.
    (Though the parameters of actuality change over time, to their profound discomfort)
    See the history of Medieval theology; or the flourishing and demise of “sects” during the Reformation.

    But individuals or groups starting from scratch can cheerfully recapitulate nonsenses the institutional ones spent millennia working out of their systems – a process that is far from complete – besides inventing novel lunacies of their own.

    Institutionalised religions are not necessarily non-problematic; but at least they are not stark howling insane.

    11
  9. charon says:

    What’s not evident from this report is how many of the 500-odd people charged with crimes in relation to the 6 January Capitol attack were Christian Identity folks. Was it a predominant characteristic of the group? Or a mere handful?

    I don’t understand the reference to “Christian Identity” which I always thought was a specific organized group like the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys etc. Timothy McVeigh is known to have made several phone calls to the leader of “Christian Identity” in the days leading up to the OKC bombing.

    2
  10. JohnSF says:

    He must be a sham shaman, he shows no shame.
    🙂

    8
  11. CSK says:

    @Scott:
    Thanks for this explanation. My entire life I’d assumed that Christians were either Episcopalians, or Methodists, or Roman Catholics, or Presbyterians, or Lutherans, etc., so I was always puzzled by those who identified as “Christians” without affiliating with any particular denomination. Now I know why.

    I have an unusually annoying niece-in-law who babbles constantly about being a “Christian,” but never says what denomination she is. Now I know why.

    6
  12. James Joyner says:

    @charon: Yes, good point. There were several references to “Christian identity” (small i) in Boorstein’s post but I should have used (and have edited the post accordingly) “Christian nationalist.” There’s a lot of overlap but the latter is less organized and not necessarily anti-Semitic.

    6
  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JohnSF: Institutionalised religions are not necessarily non-problematic; but at least they are not stark howling insane.

    I’m an atheist who by and large has no problem with people believing in whatever they want, if it eases their way thru this vale of tears called life. But… I can find no sanity in the worship of an all powerful, all seeing, kind and merciful god who inflicts/allows fatal childhood diseases upon the most blameless among us. To me that is the very definition of stark howling insane.

    But that’s just me.

    12
  14. charon says:

    @charon:

    OK, reading the article closely I found a reference to Christian identity (no capitalization of “identity”).

  15. charon says:

    Christianity has always tended to correlate with subscribing to conspiracy stuff like QAnon, or the Satanic Panics of the 80’s and 90’s going all the wat back to Jews and the “blood libel,” witch hunts/witch burnings etc. Witches, naturally, fornicate with Satan, vampires fear crosses etc.

    Racists tend to tie themselves to Christianity too, consider the special “blood drop” cross displayed on Ku Klux Klan uniforms.

    As for the “Christian” Q Shaman, note his Norse mythology tattoos: Valknut, Thor’s hammer, Norse Tree of Life. – these same tattoos are pretty popular with neo-Nazis.

    1
  16. Michael Reynolds says:

    People tried this same dodge when it came to the question of whether Al Qaeda or ISIS were ‘true Muslims.’ Of course they were, and of course the Trump Cult are true Christians. The label means different things to different people. For some Christians it means sweating and working and risking your health and life to help poor people in Guatemala, for other people it means being a hate-filled POS who parades around yelling Nazi slogans.

    The Christian label doesn’t really mean much. The brand lacks definition.

    16
  17. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I don’t disagree, but perhaps a better example of “stark, howling insane” might be the Crusades, or Islamist terrorism, or witch hunts (real ones), or the Inquisition, or the religious wars of Europe, or cramming churches during a pandemic (specifically the Black Death).

    1
  18. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The Pape report, by contrast, focused on the Capitol attack but hardly says anything at all about religion. It is almost entirely about white fears of a Great Replacement by Blacks and non-white Hispanics.

    Emphasis, mine.
    Isn’t this pretty much the definition of today’s Evangelicals?
    They sure the fuq aren’t signing onto the Trump train for his policies.
    Criminy…Trump owes his entire schtick to preachers, and pretty much his entire following.

    4
  19. Teve says:

    @Scott:

    and an End Times church

    there was an ‘End Times’ cult here in North Florida. Meade Ministries, which became Mountaintop Ministries, after the cult leader died. It exploded in multiple allegations of child molestation.

    1
  20. charon says:

    Selling conspiracy theories is easier the scarier they are, which means they work better if the perps are super evil. So cannibalism of children, drinking children’s blood etc. (Adenochrome) are ever popular attributes for whatever baddies are being demonized.

    4
  21. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    Have you seen this picture of the Pillow Guy’s swamp-fever-a-la-white board?
    Look at the upper left hand corner, and then tell me whether these people are religious nut jobs.
    https://twitter.com/patriottakes/status/1412561481103675394/photo/1

  22. CSK says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    I realize Trump is the center of their universe, but are they equating him with God?

  23. JohnSF says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    I tend to agree on the fundamental philosophy of religion.
    But there are degrees of insanity.

    Perhaps I could try signing you up for the Gnosis of the Cathars?
    According to which the material world is one of evil, created by Satan Rex Mundi, enemy of the God of the Spirits, in which our own spirits are imprisoned.
    Solves the problem of pain rather neatly; at first sight anyway…

    2
  24. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @CSK:
    Who knows? How do you judge the logic of the insane?
    I mean, if you believe in an infinitely old, all powerful, omniscient being, for which there is absolutely no proof…aren’t you, by definition, insane?
    Isn’t it clear that these Trump supporters are insane?

    2
  25. Stormy Dragon says:

    Even before Jan. 6, some sociologists said the fastest-growing group of American Christians are those associated with independent “prophets” who largely operate outside denominationalism.

    aka Cults

    8
  26. JohnSF says:

    @Kathy:
    The bases were often dubious, to be sure.

    But often not disconnected from reality in implementation, though their premises were flawed.
    The cathedrals of Europe were built because of belief; but the architects didn’t rely on faith to ensure they stayed up.
    The Crusades had religious motives; but the more successful ones, at least, did not rely on fervour to feed and ship the troops. (The failures did, which was a lesson in itself).

    A lot of people, and cultures, function on the rational implementation of irrational concepts.

  27. grumpy realist says:

    I guess you can tell I’m an old fart because I’m mourning the lack of intellectualism among these present self-proclaimed free-floating “Christians”. At least heretics in history had some interesting ideas–the Cathars, the Donatists, etc. But about the only belief we’ve seen out of this last ragged lot is how marvellous Trump is and how they’re “faithful Christians”. (The fact that they’re enshrining a con man who’s a liar, adulterer, tax fraud, and slanderer says something about their own morals, methinks.)

    Bah.

    8
  28. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    People tried this same dodge when it came to the question of whether Al Qaeda or ISIS were ‘true Muslims.’

    It really depends on what question you’re trying to answer. I see little evidence in Boorstein’s report that Christian nationalism explains the 1/6 attacks any more than Islamism explains the 9/11 attacks. Religious extremists, especially those who tie their identity or nationalism to their religious worldview, are easier to mobilize. But the Pape report makes it clear that white nationalism, mobilized through social media, is the main explanation.

    2
  29. gVOR08 says:

    There is a negative correlation between education and religion. Education is the strongest negative correlate with voting Republican. Suppose there’s some common thread there?

    4
  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    @grumpy realist:
    There were times in history when it was possible to be a Christian intellectual, but that’s pretty much over, now. There was a time when intellectuals believed in fairies and tree spirits and human sacrifice, but that’s over, too. Religion in general is moving to the left side of the IQ bell curve. Picture a graph with Augustin at one end and the various Oath Keepers at the other, or Maimonides at one end and a West Bank settler on the other.

    3
  31. charon says:

    @James Joyner:

    I see little evidence in Boorstein’s report that Christian nationalism explains the 1/6 attacks any more than Islamism explains the 9/11 attacks.

    Put them on a Venn diagram Christian nationalists and white nationalists are mostly the same people. Boorstein may have focused on just the one, but it’s a white Christion country these people want IMO.

    4
  32. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: I thought of all those but I wanted to keep it current. Humanity has changed a lot since the black plague.

  33. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Joyner:
    It’s a case of co-morbidities. Stupid people support Trump; stupid people are evangelicals; stupid people are prey for hucksters; stupid people are racist.

    If I don’t believe stupid things it’s not because I’m an atheist, rather I’m an atheist because I don’t believe stupid things.

    One of my many Number One Rules is that there’s no such thing as motivation, singular. It’s always motivations, plural. Are these people motivated by religion? Yes. And six other things.

    3
  34. Teve says:

    @JohnSF:

    Solves the problem of pain rather neatly; at first sight anyway…

    i can imagine Bronn, from Game of Thrones, saying that.

  35. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JohnSF: But there are degrees of insanity.

    Definitely. No matter how bad it is, things can always be worse.

    Also, for most of human existence I would have been considered insane/possessed/spawn of the devil because my beliefs would have been so far out of the mainstream. Burning at the stake would have probably been too good for me.

    eta: which is not to say religious beliefs are inherently bad. As I said before, if they help one get thru all the vicissitudes of life, I can find no fault with that. It doesn’t make sense to me, but that’s another thing entirely.

  36. Teve says:

    @charon: if someone believes Democrats are scavenging Adrenochrome, it just tells me they don’t have a Chemistry degree. Cuz, if you do, durr.

    1
  37. sam says:

    @Kathy:

    Some of it seems like the natural result of Sola Scriptura and American individualism.

    The very best book on this is Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood.

  38. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    One of my many Number One Rules is that there’s no such thing as motivation, singular. It’s always motivations, plural. Are these people motivated by religion? Yes. And six other things.

    That’s very much worth keeping in mind at all times.

    2
  39. Kingdaddy says:

    The Washington Post article emphasizes the non-denominational bent of the insurrectionists. That’s not a surprise. The type of creed among non-denominationalists in the US leans heavily in the individualist direction, emphasizing your relationship with the divine, without any role for the clergy. It’s more than hyper-Protestantism in doctrine, however. It’s also a social matter, with certain people not really interacting a lot with a congregration. Listening to a charismatic leader on TV, radio, or the Internet may be all the in the way of interaction they may have, in some extreme cases. Or not at all, if they can’t find someone with whom they can agree absolutely.

    As I argued in an earlier post, there are a lot of different religious experiences. The ultra-individualists are on the opposite end of the asocial-social continuum from, say, Episcopalians who are very invested in creating and maintaining a community of fellowship, or Mennonites who stress community ties of faith (and everything else). In the less stifling form of community-centric Christianity, there’s a lot of diversity of opinion. There’s also a lot of concern for each other, which might help people from going off the rails into wacky beliefs. There are fewer, or no, social guardrails among non-denominationalists, which makes it sadly easy for their brand of Christianity to mutate into a paranoid, conspiracy-minded, intolerant, anti-democratic muddle. They don’t have to learn how to get along with other people who don’t agree with them, and there aren’t the people to look out for them. Unless, of course, they want to storm the Capitol, too.

    Here’s a thought experiment: if you put the nominally Christian insurrectionists in the same church, how long would it take for them to have a doctrinal falling out?

    8
  40. Kathy says:

    @Kingdaddy:

    I don’t think it’s possible to act faster than Planck Time.

    Even if it were, I don’t think it could be measured.

  41. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: Nah, it would take way longer than that. I’m thinking about a New York minute, which I believe the NIST defines as the interval between the light turning green and the New York cabbie behind you honking.

    4
  42. grumpy realist says:

    @Michael Reynolds: You’ve reminded me I have to get my own copy of Maimonides’s writings. I was reading him many years ago but….library book. Thanks.

    2
  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    … just people inventing their own flavor of divine support…

    And it’s not like this notion is brand new, either.

    1
  44. James Joyner says:

    @charon:

    Put them on a Venn diagram Christian nationalists and white nationalists are mostly the same people. Boorstein may have focused on just the one, but it’s a white Christion country these people want IMO.

    and
    @Michael Reynolds:

    It’s a case of co-morbidities. Stupid people support Trump; stupid people are evangelicals; stupid people are prey for hucksters; stupid people are racist.

    So, I agree that the causality here is likely overdetermined. But Boorstein is taking some broad statements about the state of religiosity in America today and trying to diagnose the insurrectionists with it despite only being able to produce a handful of actual examples. Yet, she cites Pape who has done a statistical analysis of the first ~375 insurrectionists arrested and found no statistically meaningful correlation with Christianity and a strong negative correlation with End Times belief. Rather, he founds that massive amounts of social media consumption and belief in a Great Replacement are the key explanatory variables.

    1
  45. Gustopher says:

    Christianity permeates our culture. It’s basically impossible to have a significant movement without a whole lot of Christians being involved unless they are explicitly excluded.

    BLM, Oath Keepers, Rotarians, ferret owners, etc.

    Get a bunch of ill-tempered and aggrieved people together, and you’re going to find that a substantial number belong to ill-tempered and aggrieved branches of Christianity. White supremacists are going to find a Christianity that backs white supremacy (mud people!), a science that backs white supremacy (get out the calipers to measure brow ridges!), history that backs white supremacy (the slaves really did have a better life than people in Africa; Robert E Lee was an ephebophile not a pedophile), music that backs white supremacy (yee-haw!), children’s books that back white supremacy, etc.

    The white supremacy is key part here, not the Christianity.

    3
  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Still, there are also “non-denominational” churches that practice conventional Christianity that is not to any degree divorced from what one would find at their local Methodist, Baptist, or Disciples of Christ congregation. I was a member of one for several years and at large, the beliefs were significantly more centered and “Christian” than the Baptist congregation I grew up in. Looking back, I sometimes find myself wondering why these groups identified as “community” or “non-denominational” or “independent” or whatever, but in general, the common thread was believers who had come to a parting of the way with whatever they had been raised in (me, for example) combined with people who never had any denominational background to begin with and had no sense of belonging to a traditional church. The rise of para-church organizations–Youth for Christ, Campus Crusade, and others–contributed considerably at the time I attended the independent church I did as many of our congregants came from such organizations as their original “church.”

    Annnndddd there are a lot of hacked up hairballs, too. Still, not all non-denominationals are cut from one bolt of cloth.

    2
  47. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:

    The white supremacy is key part here, not the Christianity.

    I think it’s actually more about male than white. But, again: motives are always plural.

  48. KM says:

    @Gustopher:

    Christianity permeates our culture. It’s basically impossible to have a significant movement without a whole lot of Christians being involved unless they are explicitly excluded.

    More specifically, our idea of religious freedom and how it’s mutated Christianity like a virus permeates our mindsets. Religion is deeply, deeply tied to the concept of individuality and personal choice- as noted above, it’s not something you do or practice, but who you fundamentally are. Anything and everything must be viewed through a spiritual lens; the concept of belief is more important than objective fact as it’s so fundamental to the core identity of being American. It’s how you get such absurdities as people insisting atheism is a religion because believing in notion is still believing, right?

    Americans, when told there would be no official state religion, were at a loss because there had always been some sort of “correct” or “true” faith as a social standard. How can you even rebel if there’s nothing to rebel against, be The One True Faith if you have no way of proving it? It came down to “I think it’s right therefore it is” and that mindset swept out to other aspects of life. Rationality became an inherent trait, not something you work at or demonstrate. Faith became belief and it’s whatever you feel like believing at the moment; go look up pioneer folk religions in America and how quickly people fell in and out of various crazy sects that popped up out of nowhere. Don’t like what someone’s preaching about one tiny deviation? Move next door and open your own church! Don’t need to prove it or justify it, have the weight of history or even consistent doctrines – just convince someone to join in and you’ve got a sect. In other words, don’t tell me what to do since I’m an individual and I know best out of everyone in the world – how American is that?

    3
  49. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Thanks. This really is a puzzle to me since, as I’ve mentioned before, I was raised in a totally non-religious family, and I really do not viscerally understand the grip faith has on many people.

    Part of me likes to think that the real appeal of being a non-affiliated “Christian” is that you’re absolved (ha ha, religious pun) of the necessity of getting up early on Sunday morning.

    In addition to my annoying niece-in-law, I know one other non-affiliated “Christian,” an assiduous Bible-reader and, I assume, prayer. I would describe her as crazy and evil.

    4
  50. Michael Reynolds says:

    @CSK:
    Religions are about power. The powerful use them to control the weak; the weak use them to wield imaginary magical power over enemies; and from time to time both factions come together to kill Jews.

    3
  51. JKB says:

    You can see a powerpoint of the April update to the Pape report here. They seem to me to stretch to reach their “belief” conclusions, but everyone can make their own evaluation.

    What is interesting is the people arrested for January 6. Mostly from counties that went for Biden, mostly older, mostly employed, a good percentage of white collar and business owners. Majority not affiliated with rightwing “militias or gangs”. From this we can see that if the belief in the stolen election prevails, it is by people who may have voted in the questionable precincts. And at some point, even the most extreme believers will have to accept that any accountability will be at the local/state level regardless of party who controlled those during the vote counting. And also, there will be social circles in Joe Biden voting areas that won’t get all their information on Jan 6 from the media.

    1
  52. HarvardLaw92 says:
  53. JKB says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Religions are about power. The powerful use them to control the weak; the weak use them to wield imaginary magical power over enemies; and from time to time both factions come together to kill Jews.

    That’s funny. The same could be said of intellectuals. Intellectuals gain their sinecures by serving as the ‘molders of opinion’ for the power(s) they align with. Whether they use religion or social science is a difference without distinction.

    For this essential acceptance, the majority must be persuaded by ideology that their government is good, wise and, at least, inevitable, and certainly better than other conceivable alternatives. Promoting this ideology among the people is the vital social task of the “intellectuals.” For the masses of men do not create their own ideas, or indeed think through these ideas independently; they follow passively the ideas adopted and disseminated by the body of intellectuals. The intellectuals are, therefore, the “opinion-molders” in society. And since it is precisely a molding of opinion that the State most desperately needs, the basis for age-old alliance between the State and the intellectuals becomes clear.

    –Rothbard, Murray N.. The Anatomy of the State (LvMI) .

    2
  54. Clif says:

    @charon: You’re on to something, 46 identifies as a strong Catholic- and his racist history is well known to anyone with a memory.
    But dwelling on the Capitol riots like they were serious is pretty trite, a few dozen unarmed wackjobs were never going to overthrow the gov’t., let’s not be fooled by these Natl.Enquirer type headlines. It’s just fodder for those who miss the days of 45 tweeting mean things and needing to freak out about something.
    But then again, what else do most of you do all day?

    1
  55. Mister Bluster says:

    Intellectuals gain their sinecures by serving as the ‘molders of opinion’…
    It is clear to me that Trump molded the opinion of 46.9% of the voters in 2020. 74,216,154 voters.
    Trump is an anti intellectual by any measure.

    For the masses of men do not create their own ideas, or indeed think through these ideas independently;..

    Neither does your boyfriend Trump.

    (I sure hope that Trumps lover Kim Jong-Un doesn’t find out about you.)

    1
  56. mister bluster says:

    test

  57. Mister Bluster says:

    But dwelling on the Capitol riots like they were serious is pretty trite,..
    Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!

    …a few dozen unarmed wackjobs…
    Over 500 of your friends have been charged so far. Many used flagpoles and other devices as weapons. STOP LYING!

    3
  58. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @JKB:
    Took about 30 seconds to see your comment is BS.
    Most were 35-44…that’s hardly “older”.
    The breakdown of counties that went for Biden over Trump…52-48%…hardly definitive of anything.
    As for Militia of Gang membership…the study doesn’t seem to understand that MAGA is a cult, or in their terms, a “militia/group”.

    2
  59. Kathy says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Keep in mind this person (one assumes) comes from the group that thinks COVID is a hoax, or like the flu, and have six hundred thousand corpses to prove it.

    4
  60. KM says:

    @Clif:
    Riots aren’t serious? Really?

    Wow, that’s news to pretty much everyone. There’s a riot going on outside but don’t worry about it – don’t wanna be seen as trite, now would we? Just go outside for a walk- you’ll be fine, it’s just a riot! Who needs cops or security – it’s just a riot!

    Honest to God, the length y’all will go to and pretend we didn’t have a major problem a political party and it’s boss instigated is ridiculous. Although I must congratulate you on actually using the word “riot” instead of “protests” or even “tourists”. While they wouldn’t have overthrown the government, they damn well could have damaged it by damaging the actual folks who make up the government. I’m sure watching elected officials be threatened or physically hurt (or worse) would do *wonders* for your faith in democracy or belief in the stability of the American government. That’s pretty serious, if you ask me…..

    4
  61. CSK says:

    Building a gallows outside the Capitol–in addition to chanting “hang Mike Pence” and threatening/promising to blow “that bitch Pelosi’s” brains out–strikes me as fairly threatening.

    5
  62. dazedandconfused says:

    “Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.”

    ― Barry Goldwater

    When religion leads people towards reflection it can be a very good thing, but when it leads to absolute certainty one is correct God doesn’t inspire humility, God becomes oneself with a thunderbolt.

    3
  63. Scott F. says:

    @CSK: You needn’t bother with Clif and JKB. They’re just telling us they wanted Trump to succeed in destroying democracy to retain power without telling us they wanted Trump to succeed in destroying democracy to retain power.

    2
  64. CSK says:

    @Scott F.:
    Seems so, doesn’t it?

  65. Michael Reynolds says:

    @JKB:
    Fuck off cultie until you can honestly answer my question: in the free and fair election of 2020, who won the presidency?

    Can’t answer that? Then go away.

    4
  66. mattbernius says:

    @JKB:

    From this we can see that if the belief in the stolen election prevails, it is by people who may have voted in the questionable precincts. And at some point, even the most extreme believers will have to accept that any accountability will be at the local/state level regardless of party who controlled those during the vote counting. And also, there will be social circles in Joe Biden voting areas that won’t get all their information on Jan 6 from the media.

    I’ve read this multiple times and I’m really unsure what you are talking about.

    First, what do you mean by “questionable” precincts? Are you suggesting that something illegal or untoward happened in those precincts?

    What’s the implication of accepting that the accountability is at the local level? And hasn’t that always been the case (hence the changes we are seeing to voting laws in Republican-controlled States to move authority away from the local level)?

    And I’m not sure anyone was suggestions that these folks weren’t already getting all of their information from “the media” (I’m assuming you are not including Fox News or Right Wing outlets in that formulation). I think that’s part of the reason that they showed up on Jan 6th in the first place.

    Mostly from counties that went for Biden, mostly older, mostly employed, a good percentage of white collar and business owners.

    By “mostly from counties that went for Biden” you are talking about a narrow 4 point margin (52% to 48%). I also question how useful it is to look at just county and not county and state as a vector.

    Thanks for sharing that deck, I had not been aware of it’s existence. It will be interesting to see how things change when they update with more recent data. In particular, if it shifts the percentage of more extremists in the mix (who might have taken longer to arrest).

    And I’m not sure why the project seems to be using arrest data versus charging data. The first map was based on charging data and the rest seem to be based on arrest data.

  67. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Clif:

    But dwelling on the Capitol riots like they were serious is pretty trite, a few dozen unarmed wackjobs were never going to overthrow the gov’t.

    5 dead on 1/6. A couple more in the days following. Over 140 officers injured, including one who lost an eye.
    >560 arrested. That’s far more than a few dozen, which is ~36.
    It seems you are trying hard to make something serious into something trite. Why is that, cultie?

  68. mattbernius says:

    For those interested, the updates to the Pape report really dive into the county issue in detail. The findings are quite interesting. Overall the ratios haven’t really shifted.

    This part of the analysis makes particular sense to me:

    Most important, the more Trump voters in a county – even in counties Biden
    won – the greater likelihood that county would send an insurrectionist to the
    US Capitol. This is because there are twice as many people who live in Biden
    counties compared to those who live in Trump counties, which means that
    when Biden “wins” a large urban county, there are often still vast numbers of
    Trump supporters in that county.

    So part of the effect seems to be that these were often larger counties that Biden narrowly won (Trump got 40-49% of the vote).

    All the updated reports can be found here:
    https://cpost.uchicago.edu/research/domestic_extremism/

  69. de stijl says:

    @charon:

    I reject strongly to the ties between neo-pagan Nordic traditions and RW neo-Nazis.

    It was asymmetric unearned appropriation and not assimilation. Stolen ignorantly and rudely so. Not all and indeed most neo-paganists of Nordic bent do not identify as RWers. Most are anti-Nazi. The appropriators shall not wreck this.

  70. charon says:

    The people arrested are a subset that was highly visible and identifiable on social media like Facebook, perhaps not fully representative of everyone present.

  71. charon says:

    @de stijl:

    I don’t see where I said jack sh!t about Nordic traditions, pagan or other. All I did was mention that neo-Nazis use symbols like the Valknut as signaling identifier tattoos. (Third Reich Nazis used symbols like the Odal rune on their uniforms, do you also dispute that)?

    1
  72. Clif says:

    @Mister Bluster: yeah, the dreaded flagpoles…..lordy lordy! In the immortal words of 46, “c’mon man….”

  73. Clif says:

    @KM: Well, real riots can be- I seem to remember several from last year that caused massive losses to business and poor neighborhoods as well as dozens of lives. They were supported by certain prominent political party leaders who are known for instigating violence when they don’t get their way, and certain media sites seemed to fan the flames as it’s pretty easy to get a certain demographic all riled up, the visuals of these future intellectuals of America are great! But none of these people were 45 supporters, and none of the Capitol protesters killed anyone- one of them (an unarmed female veteran) was actually killed by the dreaded cops.

  74. de stijl says:

    @charon:

    I was not criticizing! I was using your point as a spring board. I apologize if it read that way. It was certainly not my intent. I’m very sorry!

  75. de stijl says:

    @charon:

    And Crusaders used crosses. And did repugnant acts under a Christian banner.

    Are you claiming Nordic neo-paganism is forever tainted and irredeemably Nazi because of evil appropriators? I reject that. Many thousands also do by daily actions. Your implied conclusion is nigh offensive.

  76. charon says:

    @de stijl:

    Symbols convey messages, what the message is depends on context and who is seeing/using the symbols.

    At political demonstrations such as Charlotteville or Jan. 6, people are signalling who they are with tattoos like the Valknut as something less obvious to outsiders than swaztikas or Maltese crosses.

    Your implied conclusion is nigh offensive.

    I can’t really address that because I don’t know what you take as my “implied conclusion.”

    Whether you like it or not, though, the real NSDAP, the Third Reich, were often pretty interested in old Nordic symbols as kind of a cultural or ideological thing. Do you consider their interest as less “valid” than yours? You were not around back then any more than they were, and there is some distinction between “invalid” and “offensive.”

    1
  77. de stijl says:

    @charon:

    Wow!

    I grant the above as undeniably true.

    Your gratuitous and aggressive implications are truly offensive to me. You equate the appropriated to the Nazi appropriator. That is extremely fucked up.

    I just do not know how to respond to that in a meaningful manner.

    Heilung (it means Healing) means a lot to me. As does Nordic neo-paganism. It seems to me you want to rob me of that. I reject your premise.

    Away with you!

    I hate the Nazi appropriators worse than you do I fucking guarantee.

    I’m going to listen to Norupo and fuck you.

    The fucking gall you have.

  78. de stijl says:

    @charon:

    You’re the idiot that harped on telediagnosis. Repeatedly.

  79. wr says:

    @Clif: Hey Clif,

    Seems like a dry well here these days. No one cares about obvious loser trolls anymore. So why don’t you go to Red State and pretend to be a Democrat? I promise you’ll find lots of stupid people to take your bait.

  80. wr says:

    @de stijl: Hey kids!

    Yeah, you and Charon. (Sorry I don’t know how to respond to both at once.)

    We all love you equally and it causes us pain to see you take some miscommunication and blow it up into a huge personal fight.

    Step back, go to your rooms, and take a time out. Come out when you can both act like grown ups again.