January 6 driven more by new social currents than Christian nationalism?

The view that the January 6 riot was largely motivated by “Christian nationalism” and evangelical fervor is belied by new available data coming from the legal cases of those who have been prosecuted in connection with the event, writes Daniel Strand in the American Conservative magazine (August 23). Strand cites the Chicago Project on Security and Threats (CPOST), which has compiled and analyzed data on January 6 as it has been made available. Looking at the geographical origins of the protestors, the project, directed by Robert Pape of the University of Chicago, casts doubt on the evangelical and Christian nationalist character of the January 6 event. The more rural a county is, the less likely it is to be represented by a Capitol protestor who was arrested, and the higher the percentage of a county’s vote for Donald Trump, the “lower the chance that country would send someone to the Capitol who would be arrested for activities related to January 6. Against the assertion that deep-red Trump counties were breeding grounds for violent Christian nationalism, we find that the more pro-Trump a county, the less likely violent protestors were to have originated there,” Strand writes. In fact, violent rioters were more likely to come from urban rather than rural areas and were actually based in contested (“purple”) counties outside the Bible belt and the South.

Source: Kurt Kaiser – Wikimedia Commons.

Strand cites the investigation into the indictments and the timeline of the riot by journalist Roger Parloff, which suggests that it was the far-right Proud Boys and Oathkeepers that played the central role in fomenting the violence that occurred on January 6, even if they were a minority. The CPOST data show that those who were arrested on January 6 were motivated by the belief that the election was stolen and what they call “the great replacement” theory, which holds that whites are bring displaced by minorities. “What neither Parloff nor the CPOST study mention is any explicit religious motivation, let alone theological beliefs about America being a Christian nation. Religious beliefs barely show up in all the studies, and when they do, they are ancillary to the actors who instigated the violence…In fact, the CPOST study concludes that the political movement that engaged in violence at the Capitol is a new movement and not the continuation of a political movement,” Strand writes. He adds that this doesn’t mean that further research won’t uncover Christian nationalist roots to the violence, but “at the moment the link is not there.”

(American Conservative, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/christian-nationalism-didnt-cause-january-6/)