Editorial: The disgust of the storming of the U.S. Capitol

People shelter in the House gallery as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

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The storming of the U.S. Capitol is appalling. As a nation, it is beneath us. As Christians, it is beyond the pale. It cannot be justified in any way, though it can be explained as an abuse of the presidency and a stain on our national character—among other things.

The storming of the Capitol made a mockery of our longstanding efforts to ensure the peaceful transfer of power around the world. The protests of racial injustices last summer did not bring a halt to the democratic process in the way the storming of the Capitol literally—though temporarily—halted the wheels of democracy today.

That lawmakers would have to stop the time-honored and, in the civil religion of America, sacred ceremony of certifying the electoral college vote, that they would have to shelter in place within the Capitol, that a sitting president would turn on his vice president—who himself was presiding over the certification and had to be whisked away—and that that very same president would say nothing, nothing for hours to quell his supporters … I am incensed. You should be, too, no matter who you voted for or what you think about this election.

This affront to democracy makes our talk of “United” States ring hollow, spotlighting a divided people. If only the divide were singular. Today showed it for the multiform division it is.

I cannot separate the images I watched this afternoon from the images I watched on June 1. The response to those protesting the killing of George Floyd, a president walking across the street, the photo-op in front of the church—it all stands in stark contrast to the mob assaulting the Capitol today.

There’s not a chance the protestors in May and June would have made it to the top of the Capitol steps, much less be allowed to break out windows, crash through doors, storm the Rotunda, enter the Senate Chamber. They certainly would not have made it into a legislator’s office to put their feet up on the desk. And the protestors in June weren’t headed to the Capitol. The mob today? They were headed to the Capitol days, weeks, maybe months ago.

God’s law—upon which the law of our nation purportedly is founded—commands us not to pervert justice, not to show partiality to one or favoritism to the other. Today held up against last summer shows what looks like clear favoritism. Some Americans have no right to protest in the street, yet other Americans are free to vandalize—with apparent impunity—one of the most honored places in the nation. I knew the Capitol was “the People’s House,” but I didn’t know I was allowed to trash it.

I saw the large “Jesus Saves” sign and a “Proud American Christian” flag, and like so many others, I must distance myself from a Christianity that cannot separate itself from a political ideology. I don’t bow to that “lord.” Dear reader, you should not either. That “lord” is an idol; that “lord” is dead.

Jesus Christ alone is Lord and bows to no political ideology or politician. That’s a flag I’ll wave.

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Eric Black is the executive director, publisher and editor of the Baptist Standard. He can be reached at eric.black@baptiststandard.com or on Twitter at @EricBlackBSP. The views expressed are those solely of the author.

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