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David Wiggs: People of faith must speak out; Capitol riot desecrate the Christian name

David Wiggs: People of faith must speak out; Capitol riot desecrate the Christian name

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I want to address the events that unfolded at our nation’s Capitol Jan. 6 from the perspective of a Christian pastor. I am not a government or elected official, a politician or a political scientist, so I will not share my opinions about what all of this means for our country.

Yet, as a Christian leader, as a person ordained to serve as a representative of Christ, I do feel I need to say a word specifically about what happened and how the people who entered the Capitol illegally, identified themselves.

Many of them identify themselves as Christians.

I am very careful not to attack or demean other expressions of faith. I believe in the many ways people of goodwill express faith. Yet, this case seems so egregious; so far beyond the bounds of legitimate Christian faith, I feel it necessary to speak out at this point.

To break down physical barriers, to attack, injure and kill police, to threaten duly elected officials, to destroy and vandalize property at the U.S. Capitol under the banner of Christian faith, does not square with my understanding of who I am or what I mean when I claim the name Christian.

If we, who claim the name, do not speak out against this, then I believe we forfeit our faith and credibility.

These rioters desecrate the name Christian. They make mockery out of our faith. This is not love of neighbor. This is not love of God.

Think about this mix of images from those who gathered to stop the legitimate functioning of our government. Christian crusaders flags and T-shirts, T-shirts saying 6 million Jews annihilated is not enough, signs saying Civil War Now or God, Guns, Guts & Glory and Jesus saves. Along with chants ringing out: “Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!”

The worst for me was seeing a Confederate battle flag being paraded inside our capitol building coupled with a number of lynching stands erected outside on the grounds. This makes me sick at heart for our country.

This is anarchy; this is not Christianity.

This is hate; this is not love.

This is chaos, not democracy.

This is darkness, not light.

This is tearing down, not building up.

This is purposely divisive; these are not people of goodwill.

In my role as a Christian pastor, I endeavor continuously to lift up a faith centered in love, following a savior who died rather than hurt or attack others. I never thought I would have to defend our faith against those who would claim the name Christian and then engage in such acts of desecration.

I encourage my congregation to be a people of prayer and vigilance living out a faith of love and goodwill, tolerance and respect for others, who embrace a reasoned approach to faith and scripture, who are ambassadors for reconciliation and who work for the good of all, as we put Christ’s love in action.

The violence and disrespect, the demonizing of fellow citizens and legislators does not square with legitimate Christian faith. To see those claiming Christian identity, become part of a mob that engages in killing and mayhem, in an effort to stop the legal legislative process in our country, must be confronted by other Christians.

I must speak out against those who are invoking God’s name and claiming Christian identity. There needs to be clear alternative Christian voices speaking out against this hate speech, this destructive and violent behavior. For all people of goodwill and especially for those of you who claim the name Christian, I encourage you to join me in condemning this behavior.

David Wiggs, senior pastor at Tulsa’s Boston Avenue United Methodist Church, is a former member of the Tulsa World Community Advisory Board.


Featured video:

Tulsa World Editorial Pages Editor Wayne Greene reads the newspaper’s Jan. 7 editorial.

David Wiggs, senior pastor at Tulsa’s Boston Avenue United Methodist Church, is a former member of the Tulsa World Community Advisory Board.

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