I was listening to the news this morning when the NPR podcast that helps me get ready for the day shared a frightening statistic: nearly 40% of Republicans seemingly approved of the use of violence to defend what I will call the “American way of life.” I was a bit upset, so I did some digging. The actual source of the survey reported, “Nearly three in 10 (29 percent) Americans completely or somewhat agree with the statement: “If elected leaders will not protect America, the people must do it themselves even if it requires taking violent actions.”
All of this was upsetting, but it bothered me on another level that this was listed under the religion section of NPR. 0https://www.npr.org/2021/02/11/966498544/a-scary-survey-finding-4-in-10-republicans-say-political-violence-may-be-necessaR and the included snippets of an interview with the head of the agency (American Enterprise Institute) that performed the survey, the director Daniel Cox connected what was labeled as the White Evangelical church and really questionable beliefs. Cox shared with NPR: ” ‘As with a lot of questions in the survey, white evangelicals stand out in terms of their belief in conspiracy theories and the idea that violence can be necessary,’ Cox says. ‘They’re far more likely to embrace all these different conspiracies.’ ”
Now, I’m white and I believe in the Good News (the “Evangel”), but I do not agree that there is any necessary use of violence in this nation’s politics. I believe in being evangelistic and in the act of evangelism, but the word “Evangelical…” I think that word has been dragged through the mud so often that I cannot connect myself with it in good conscience.
I am thankful for this snippet from the actual survey’s release: “However, although a significant number of Americans—and Republicans in particular—express support for the idea that violent actions may be necessary, there is a notable lack of enthusiastic support for it. For instance, only 9 percent of Americans overall and only 13 percent of Republicans say they “completely” agree in the necessity of taking violent actions if political leaders fail.”
I believe 9% is too high. The church has a lot of work to do, especially when such a large swath of the church has what I see as a troubling relationship with the very political violence I believe we should oppose. Blessed are the peacemakers…