A supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump sits inside the office of U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi inside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress met to certify the 2020 presidential election results. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Taylor: Misguided mentality of a mob

Lake Country Calendar columnist examines U.S. Capitol riots from religious lens

The world watched lastweek as a mindless mob took over the U.S. Capitol building.

It was not an attempted coup, as many pundits alleged. If it were a coup, they would have been much better organized.

Any genuine coup has an organization ready to take over. Incompetently, perhaps, but still ready to take over.

This gang had no plans beyond disrupting Congress. Desecrating the temple of government. Looting a few souvenirs. Putting their feet up on Nancy Pelosi’s desk.

I’m surprised they didn’t urinate on it. Maybe they did, and the news networks chose not to show it.

If so, it was probably live-streamed (no pun intended) on social media.

The mob reminded me of some of my high school acquaintances going out on Halloween night solely so that they could throw eggs at windows and knock over fences.

I can cause damage, therefore I am. For a second or two, those TV cameras caught a woman brandishing a placard: “Jesus Saves.”

There, I think, is the overlooked key to this demonstration.

At last count, 82 people had been arrested and 13 charged, as a result of the riot. When – and if – they come to trial, I expect that some will invoke religious freedom as their defence.

They were only doing what Jesus did, they’ll argue, when he cleared the crooks and shysters from a courtyard of his temple in Jerusalem.

He didn’t attempt to take over the temple either. He shut it down for a while, then cleared out. He had made his point.

Study after study shows that Donald Trump draws most of his support – around 80 per cent — from white evangelicals who call themselves Christian.

American evangelicals, I suggest, have a Messiah Complex.

They keep expecting a person to come forward who will provide the leadership they need to change the world.

Look at the megachurches with thousands and thousands of worshippers at Sunday services. The televangelists drawing millions of viewers – and dollars. The crusades that pack stadiums. All built around the charismatic qualities of single individuals.

When that messiah-figure fades or proves to have feet of clay, so do the ministries.

Evangelicals view the whole Bible, from beginning to end, as a single coherent package.

Every word is divinely authorized. Which lets them pick and choose the bits that fit together.

And so they can trace an abundance of messiah-figures, all anticipating the coming of Jesus:

• Moses, leading his people away from the Egyptians

• Joshua, leading his people against the Canaanites

• David, leading his people against the Philistines

• Elijah, leading a faithful few against the prophets of Baal

Given those stories, it’s hardly surprising that many evangelicals have been programmed to see Donald Trump as yet another saviour, leading his people against the Democrats.

Further, the Bible culminates with a mighty showdown – the final battle of good against evil – in the Revelation of John, a hermit on the island of Patmos whose text gives little indication that he knew anything about the life and/or teachings of Jesus himself.

Revelation, coupled with the story of Jesus trashing the Temple, provides all the justification those evangelicals would need to believe they were doing the Lord’s work when they stormed the Capitol.

Jim Taylor lives in Lake Country.

rewrite@shaw.ca

 

Jim Taylor