For four years, more than half of Americans and most of the rest of the world have wondered where supporters of Donald Trump would draw the line, what would finally push his cult-like enablers to see through his mountain of lies and hatred.
If today isn’t that day, there is no hope.
Surely you know the story by now: Egged on for weeks and encouraged even this morning by Trump, a huge band of domestic terrorists stormed the U.S. Capitol and forced all of Congress into hiding instead of certifying the presidential election results. Trump’s response to the insurrectionists: “We love you.”
To everyone who stood idly by as Trump whipped up his supporters into a frenzy with lie after lie after lie, it is now time for you to speak up. Silence is complicity. There is no “both sides are wrong” to this mess.
That is especially true for every pastor and denominational leader who has endorsed Trump and Trumpism or turned a blind eye to the immorality of this movement. It is time for you to speak a word of truth and morality. It is time to stop enabling the lies, which clearly have disastrous consequences.
Let us be clear on this truth: Trump has stoked an insurrection, a potential coup, with the same behavior that he has exhibited all along. His behavior today, this week, is not new.
This is the same behavior that pastors like Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church in Dallas have dismissed by saying, “I’m not voting for Trump to be the teacher of my third grader’s Sunday school class. That’s not what he’s running for.” Or of seminary president Al Mohler, who before this year’s election endorsed Trump saying, without a hint of irony: “I still believe in the necessity of character for public office, but I have had to think more deeply about how character is evaluated in an historic context.”
The church of Jesus Christ has no business endorsing or enabling the kind of reckless violence seen in Washington, D.C., today. But denouncing today’s violence alone is not enough. This did not happen out of nowhere. The years of lies have piled up and stoked a tinderbox.
We have known there would come a day of reckoning for religious leaders who have sacrificed ethics for political gain. We just didn’t know the date would be Jan. 6, 2021.
Mark Wingfield serves as executive director and publisher of Baptist News Global.