The one-year anniversary of the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. capitol launched a debate this week on its cause, significance and historical ramifications.
Christian leaders across the spectrum also discussed the attack.
Below is a sampling of what five Christian leaders said about January 6:
Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
"A nation that tolerates this kind of behavior and lawlessness undermines its own legitimacy, but thankfully the events of January 6 were not swept under the rug. … When you're thinking about moral responsibility, we can't avoid the issue of the 45th president of the United States, Donald J. Trump," Mohler said on his podcast. "It's true that the passions behind the events were incited and inflamed by President Trump. The mob was encouraged by the president, first of all, to gather on the mall, and then he used language that could well be understood to have incited the mob to move on the United States Capitol. The President's undeniable sins of both commission and omission on that day are going to be debated for generations to come. …
"... An honest look at January 6 requires a full consideration of the efforts by the Left and the Right in modern America to undermine political norms. … The images of January 6, 2021, are more than enough to awaken Christian citizens in the United States to the fact that we are a nation in political crisis, but we understand as Christians driven by a biblical worldview that that political crisis is not merely political. The political crisis is a moral crisis, and that moral crisis is even more fundamentally a spiritual crisis. In the larger sense, Christians understand January 6 as a wake-up call for the nation, and on this first anniversary of the event, let's understand it's a sobering reminder of the massive challenges facing the United States of America, the American people, our government leaders, and our constitutional order. We will, in the end, find a way to preserve our grand experiment in self-government, or we will lose it. It's just that simple."
Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan's Purse
"Today marks one year since the attack on our nation's Capitol," Graham wrote on Facebook. "Many people may disagree with me, but I blame the swamp. The vast majority of the million or so people who went to Washington that day were patriots who love this country and were there to take a stand for our nation. They represented millions who were fed up with the greed and corruption of politics. But those who stormed the Capitol, destroying property, even causing injury and death, were wrong. What they did should have never happened. But if the 'January 6 Committee' wants to find the truth about who was behind the attack, they don't have to look any further than Washington and its corruption.
"We need to pray. This great country is being lost, collapsing from within. As we begin 2022, join me in praying for our nation and its leaders. We won't find our hope in politicians. The only true hope is in Almighty God and His Son, Jesus Christ. If we will repent and turn from our sins as a people, He will forgive and bring the healing that only He can. But it begins with each individual heart, and that includes you. Have you asked Jesus Christ to forgive you, heal your heart, and be the Lord of your life?"
Darrell Scott, pastor, New Spirit Revival Center
"Summer of 2020 set a new standard for 'peaceful protest," Scott tweeted. "Dem leaders condoned destruction, theft & arson, including National monuments & even the White House. January 6 was simply a case of the 'Chickens coming home to roost.' Dems thought 'protest' was OK til it was on their steps."
Summer of 2020 set a new standard for “peaceful protest” Dem leaders condoned destruction, theft & arson,including National monuments & even the White House. Jan 6 was simply a case of the “Chickens coming home to roost”. Dems thought “protest” was OK til it was on their steps.— Dr.Darrell Scott (@PastorDScott) January 5, 2022
Russell Moore, public theologian, Christianity Today
"Some might dismiss the Christian symbols at the insurrection – not only signs but prayers 'in Jesus' name' right next to a horn-wearing shaman in the well of the evacuated U.S. Senate," Moore wrote in Christianity Today. "And some might wave away the evangelicals who falsely claimed in the days afterward that it had been a crowd of Antifa activists, not people from the rally at which the then–President of the United States incited the mob to march to the Capitol.
"And yet, survey after survey shows that alarming numbers of white evangelicals believe the lie behind the attack – that the 2020 election had been stolen by a vast left-wing conspiracy that somehow included the conservative Republican governors and election officials in Georgia and Arizona. … It would be one thing if this were just a matter of the crowd attacking the Capitol that day. It's quite another when people – including people with highlights in their Bibles and prayer requests on their refrigerators – wave the attack away as a mere protest from which we should 'move on.'
"... This represents more than a threat to American democracy – though that would be bad enough – but a threat to the witness of the church. One cannot carry Good News to people you might, if things get bad enough, have to beat up or kill. One cannot bring about good by doing evil. One cannot 'stand for truth' by employing lies. Maybe January 6 was a terrible anomaly in our history, one that will never repeat. I hope so. Or maybe January 6 is, as The Atlantic put it, 'practice' for even more coup attempts and mob violence to come. I don't know. Either way, I know this: We, as American evangelicals, cannot justify what happened at the Capitol a year ago. We can't ignore it either. If Jesus is the one who saves, then we must go his direction – and that's toward mission, not resentment, toward gospel and not rage."
Michael Wear, senior fellow, The Trinity Forum
"I remain convinced that we do ourselves no favors by shying away from a critical question that literally hangs over the events of January 6: Does God favor our proceedings? This is a [question] we must all answer for, and it offers a clarity we have yet been unwilling to apply to January 6," Wear tweeted. "... Yes, today is a day to make commitments about legislation we should pass, and action that should be taken. But most of all, I think today should be a day for committing to become the kind of people our politics needs. This is what our politics needs most of all.
"... Christians can no longer allow politics and political consequences guide our theology," Wear tweeted. "It didn't work for our parents; it won't work now."
I remain convinced that we do ourselves no favors by shying away from a critical question that literally hangs over the events of Jan 6: Does God favor our proceedings? This is a ? we must all answer for, and it offers a clarity we have yet been unwilling to apply to Jan. 6.— Michael Wear (@MichaelRWear) January 6, 2022
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.