The coronavirus pandemic has had less effect on Americans' personal religiosity than on their belief that religion has a greater influence on American life. U.S. adults' views of the importance of religion in their lives and their religious identification were unchanged in 2020, while their attendance at religious services and membership in a church, synagogue or mosque declined slightly.
Yet, there has been an uptick in the percentage of Americans who think religion as a whole is increasing, rather than losing, its influence on American life, a pattern seen at other times of national crisis.
Ammon Bundy, right-wing malcontent behind the 2016 armed takeover of Oregonâs Malheur Wildlife Refuge and now a western anti-mask movement, believes heâs doing Godâs work.
Coming from a long line of religiously inspired men who have been âcalledâ to defend the US Constitution, Bundy has varied in his focus, from rebelling against public land ranching regulations to protesting COVID-19 safety protocols. But in his view, these are all forms of government tyranny and affronts to constitutional rights. Arrested for the fourth time on March 15, 2021, Bundy was taken into custody for failing to appear at his hearing on past trespassing charges. Because he refused to wear a mask into the courtroom, thereby missing his trial, he was apprehended outside amid of a throng of other protesters.
Bundyâs crusade has been a long time in the making, but in the last year he successfully established a coalition of supporters that is broad, diverse, and a serious threat to federal law. His group is called the Peopleâs Rights Network. Like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, it includes members who see the current government as a threat to perceived rights and are committed to defend their ideas of personal liberty, by force if necessary.
So what has taken Ammon Bundy, who first came to prominence during the 2014 armed standoff in Nevada over his fatherâs unpaid grazing fees and trespassing cattle, into a life of an anti-government militant? The answer is a libertarian worldview and his take on Mormonism. Bundyâs ideology parallels the thinking of certain leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whoâve had a history of government cynicism. He also shares with them a tradition of theo-constitutionalism—venerating the Constitution as a sacred document. The paradox here is that Bundy believes he is upholding the Constitution and fulfilling his religious duties in his acts of lawlessness. (...)
When Mr. Zacharias died of cancer in May at age 74, he was one of the most revered evangelists in the United States. Former Vice President Mike Pence spoke at his memorial service in Atlanta, calling him âa man of faith who could rightly handle the word of truth like few others in our timeâ and comparing him to Billy Graham and C.S. Lewis.
Mr. Zacharias, it says, âwarned her not ever to speak out against him or she would be responsible for the âmillions of soulsâ whose salvation would be lost if his reputation was damaged.â
The law firm also found a pattern of intimate text and email-based relationships with women. In reviewing his electronic devices, they found the phone numbers of more than 200 massage therapists and more than 200 selfies, some of them nudes, from much younger women. Mr. Zacharias also used the nonprofit ministry to financially support some of his long-term therapists. The report also reveals that he owned two apartments in Bangkok, where he spent 256 days between 2010 and 2014. One of his massage therapists stayed in the other apartment.
Mr. Zacharias said in 2017 that in 45 years of marriage, âI have never engaged in any inappropriate behavior of any kind.â
The level of distrust among Republicans evident in the survey was such that about eight in 10 said the current political system is "stacked against conservatives and people with traditional values." A majority agreed with the statement, "The traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it."
âThe biggest thing against humanity and our country is this attack through these machines,â Lindell said in opening the documentary. âWhat youâre going to watch during this show is 100 percent proof that the big thing was the fact by these other countries that came in to attack our country through these machines that are made to steal elections. â¦ This is an attack not only (from) those other countries with communism, but they had domestic traitors right here in our country. Whatever is going on right now, weâre seeing it, theyâre suppressing. Cancel culture, theyâre trying to cancel us all out. Iâve just seen churches, the Christian church, theyâre being attacked right now. People on social media, anyone that speaks up, theyâre going, âYou canât say that. Youâre gone.â Itâs like theyâre doing whack-a-mole because they knew they were so close, so close that we would never know in history what happened. But guess what? Now we do know.â (...)
Also featured was retired Gen. Thomas McInerney, a right-wing conspiracy theorist who urged Trump to impose martial law, cancel the inauguration, and arrest Democrats for treason for allegedly stealing the election. He told Lindell that the election was stolen by âglobalistsâ intent on creating a âcommunist world.â
âPresident Trump, who won 79 million votes in the election to 68 million for Bidenâwe have, and youâve seen those exact numbersâhe dominated,â McInerney claimed. âIt was an awesome victory, and yet they turned it aroundâforeigners.â
âYouâve all seen absolute proof of the biggest cyber-attack in history,â Lindell declared at the end of his movie. âItâs a takeover of our country. We all see it happening. And now you see the proof of where it came from and what happened.â
âWhatâs going to happen now is going to change the course of our world and our country forever,â he continued. âI want to say that God has had his hand in all of this. This has been on Godâs timing. And when we get through all this, we will once again be one nation under God.â
includes assumptions of nativism, white supremacy, patriarchy and
heteronormativity, along with divine sanction for authoritarian control
and militarism. It is as ethnic and political as it is religious.
Understood in this light, Christian nationalism contends that America
has been and should always be distinctively âChristianâ from top to
bottom â in its self-identity, interpretations of its own history,
sacred symbols, cherished values and public policies â and it aims to
keep it this way.
is a political movement, and its ultimate goal is power. It does not
seek to add another voice to Americaâs pluralistic democracy, but to
replace our foundational democratic principles and institutions with a
state grounded on a particular version of Christianity, answering to
what some adherents call a âbiblical worldviewâ that also happens to
serve the interests of its plutocratic funders and allied political
This, Stewart writes, âis not a âculture war.â It is a political war over the future of democracy.â
While much of the focus of coverage of the attack on the halls of the House and Senate was on the violence, the religious dimension went largely unnoted (although my colleagues Elizabeth Dias and Ruth Graham made the connection). (...)
I asked Philip Gorski, a professor of sociology at Yale and the author of the book âAmerican Covenant: A History of Civil Religion From the Puritans to the Present,â if supporters of Christian nationalism were a dominant force in the Jan. 6 assault on Congress. He replied:
observers commented on the jarring mixture of Christian, nationalist
and racist symbolism amongst the insurrectionists: there were Christian
crosses and Jesus Saves banners, Trump flags and American flags, fascist
insignia and a âCamp Auschwitzâ hoodie. Some saw apples and oranges.
But it was really a fruit cocktail: White Christian Nationalism.
Paul D. Miller, a professor of international affairs at Georgetown Universityâs School of Foreign Service, reasons along parallel lines:
nationalism is the pursuit of tribal power, not the common good; it is
identity politics for right-wing (mostly white) Christians; it is the
attempt to âown and operate the American brand,â as someone else wrote;
it is an attitude of entitlement among Christians that we have a
presumptive right to define what America is. I oppose identity politics
of all kinds, including the identity politics of my tribe.