Jan. 6 panel must expose the Christian nationalism that fueled riots — and force GOP to denounce it: columnist
Supporters of President Donald Trump protest on the steps of the U.S. Capitol building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. - Yuri Gripas/Yuri Gripas/TNS

The House Select Committee must identify and expose the Christian nationalist ideology that motivated so many of the Jan. 6 insurrectionists, according to a new column.

Congressional investigators will begin presenting their evidence to the public Thursday during a prime-time hearing that Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) promised would reveal planning and premeditated actions by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn his election loss, but Daily Beast columnist Wajahat Ali said they must also reveal religious component that fueled the violence.

"Christian nationalism believes in the enduring and dangerous 'deep story' that America is a special nation divinely favored by God and entrusted to white Christians as its sovereign protectors, in order to implement and spread the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth," Ali wrote. "These 'Christian' values and morals are allegedly under active threat and assault by 'invaders — who presently include feminists, LGBTQ+, Jews, people of color, Muslims, immigrants, and essentially anyone who opposes their proposed theocratic state."

Trump tapped into that ideology with his slogan "Make America Great Again," which means something very specific and menacing for Christian nationalists.

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"In this worldview, America can only be made 'great' again if we return to its previous natural order, in which white Christian patriarchy reigned supreme," Ali wrote. "Violence, as blessed and rationalized by a militarized reading of the Gospel and a belief in a warrior Jesus, is justified to 'take back' the country by any means necessary."

That's why the committee must expose Christian nationalism as a threat to democracy and force Republicans to condemn it.

"When Muslim extremists committed acts of terrorism, Republicans were adamant that we name the threat as 'Islamic terrorism' and wage a cruel, relentless War on Terror that villainized Islam and Muslim communities at home and abroad as America’s enemies," Ali wrote. "However, when the violent extremists come from within their own tribe, the Republican National Committee refers to them as 'ordinary citizens' who were simply engaging in a 'legitimate political discourse.'"

"If Democrats truly want to save our democracy and guard us against the ongoing coup, then they have to name the active, violent threat that also happens to be walking within our Congressional halls," he added.