Bill Connor on Evangelical Christians Are Not a Radicalized Threat

A man holds a Bible as Trump supporters gathered outside the Capitol in Washington. The Christian imagery and rhetoric on view during the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6 are sparking renewed debate about the societal effects of melding Christian faith with an exclusionary breed of nationalism. (John Minchillo/AP)

Since the January 6 riot, increasingly strident voices from the political left have stigmatized Evangelicals as a threat to America.  A recent article published in Foreign Affairs by Drs. Muhammed Fraser-Rahim and Melissa Graves, is yet the latest of these rising anti-Evangelical denunciations. This article was written by two tenured professors at my Alma Mater, The Citadel, and from the Department of Intelligence and Security Studies. As the conclusions are completely at odds with the cited evidence, this article demands response and refutation. The title provides insight into the bias involved:  “The US Needs Deradicalization – for Christian Extremists”, and the conclusions fall apart under scrutiny.

Drs. Fraser-Rahim and Graves begin by framing the January 6 riot at the Capitol as primarily a case of white, Evangelical Christian violent extremism.  To begin their argument, they recite a selectively edited and anecdotal statement by one of those who entered the Capitol, Joshua Black. Mr. Black distinguishes himself from others at the riot in stating “I wanted to get inside to plead the blood of Jesus over it (Senate Chamber)”. The Professors failed to include Mr. Black’s statement about what he believed to be the motivations of the riot:  Black claimed that the riot started when protesters learned VP Pence was moving forward with counting the electoral college votes.  Political and not religious motivation.  Mr. Black did explain he protected a Capitol Hill Police Officer based on his Christian beliefs, but this was left out of the article. Fraser-Rahim and Graves then asserted: “That Black would storm the Capitol in the believe that he was carrying out God’s will should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the troubling relationship between white Evangelical Christians and conspiracy theories over the past four years.”  However, the article Fraser-Rahim and Graves cite to make this outrageous claim did not back such a generalization of white Evangelicals. It solely noted: “the likelihood of supporting conspiracy theories is strongly predicted by a willingness to believe in other unseen, intentional forces and an attraction to Manichean narratives.”

The next line of anti-Evangelical attack by Fraser-Rahim and Graves came with their assertion of the support of white Evangelicals for Trump. They don’t explain how support for a Presidential candidate is connected to radicalization but assume the reader would get it. To further their “radicalization” charge, Fraser-Rahim and Graves cited that “50% of Protestants who attend church once or more per week believed Trump was divinely anointed by God”. However, the cited material showed the same percentages regardless of President and conclude:  “it is important to see that this is not just an evangelical Republican problem. The religious significance of the presidency is swelling across the board for the religious, indicating further polarization along religious and partisan lines is continuing.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Bill Connor

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