Christian leaders need to admit to their role in the Capitol riots: Former ‘soldier of the Apocalypse’
Pro-Trump protesters trying to enter Capitol building. (lev radin /

In a column for Time magazine, a Georgetown professor who was brought up as an evangelical Christian in Arkansas said that the Christian community needs to take a good hard look at itself and decide if it wants to get back to the teachings of Christ or travel further down the road to Christian-based right-wing extremism.

Under a dramatic headline announcing, "I, Too, Was Once a Soldier of the Apocalypse," Charles King wrote that he was brought up in a church that taught, "You should shun Procter & Gamble products because there was a hidden 666, the mark of the beast, inside the company logo. If you played certain rock songs backwards, you would hear entreaties to smoke marijuana.," and showed a movie that suggested, "what would happen when the United Nations was given free rein during the coming Tribulation, as forecast in the Book of Revelation. The global government would lop off the heads of those who honored Jesus and refused to bow to state tyranny."

With that in mind, he wrote that the culture -- both regional and faith-based -- bears a striking similarity to the views expressed by some of the rioters who stormed the nation's Capitol on Jan. 6th leaving death and destruction behind.

The story we told ourselves was all bravery and justice. A devil-serving elite was arrayed against us, so we geared up for battle against 'the world,' the term for everyone else," he wrote. "But we assumed that when Christ returned and set up his kingdom, people like us—white and righteous—would be first in line at his heavenly palace."

Admitting that some Christian leaders have made statements condemning the Jan 6th. insurrection, he wrote that there was a need to do more.

"White evangelical leaders and their communities must lead a deep process of inward-looking discernment. It is beyond time for a new Reformation inside evangelical Christianity, one that will reject the holy war against liberals, journalists, scientists, non-believers, and other actual human beings," he suggested.

In particular, he suggested the churches need to weed out, "committed supporters of Trump [who] share a worldview that might be described as radical Christianism, an outlook on politics and culture that has remained largely unchanged for decades. It traffics in conspiracy and encourages distrusting one's own eyes and ears. "

King suggested the time is now for reflection on where evangelicals went wrong.

"Today, Christian leaders who once took Islam to task for its alleged role in fomenting terrorism among a small group of extremists should now look in the mirror. When religion fuses with grievance and existential struggle, it can be a powerful motivator for action," he wrote before making several recommendations.

"There are pathways to healing. Church leaders can organize de-radicalization programs modeled on those used successfully by some mosques. They can break the God-and-guns nexus that twists legitimate sporting equipment into a holy relic. Internet literacy classes and addiction recovery groups can help older Christians use online information and social media responsibly," he wrote. "Ministers can speak openly about conspiracy theories and the sin of white nationalism. Preaching along these lines isn't 'being political.' It is speaking directly to the burdens and temptations that are harming the people sitting in the pews."

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