Chaos at the Capitol:
Law and Religion Perspectives on Democracy’s Dark Day

A Canopy Forum Thematic Series
January 2021 – February 2021

“Capitol Riots Just One More Example of Racial Injustice in the U.S.”

Amin Sadri
January 11, 2021

“This past Wednesday, a mob of Trump supporters — incited and emboldened multiple times by the President of the United States and his family — broke into the Capitol Building during a joint session of Congress and proceeded to loot the congressional offices…”

“Law and Order”

Adam McDuffie
January 11, 2021

“Over the last several months, the Republican party and its current leader have consistently trumpeted their strong commitment to law and order. Especially during this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests (and riots), as well as in response to calls for greater oversight of and a more limited role for police forces...”

“White Christian Nationalism at the Capitol”

Caroline Mala Corbin
January 12, 2021

“A noose. A confederate flag. A Latin cross. A Jesus 2020 banner. These were the symbols deployed by Trump supporters on January 6 at the nation’s Capitol. At first glance, they seem unrelated, and perhaps they are. Details are still coming in about the various groups who participated in the Trump insurrection. At the same time, their symbols, and support of Trump, may well be united by Christian nationalism...”

“Trump, Insurgency, and Religious Grievance”

Steven K. Green
January 12, 2021

“Like many Americans, I watched the live images of the insurgent siege of the nation’s Capitol on January 6 with distress and horror. As the rioters were surging up the Capitol steps, I noticed among the numerous Trump flags a large banner with the word “Jesus.” (Apparently, other insurgents carried “Jesus Saves” and “Jesus 2020” banners while one insurgent who entered the Capitol carried the “Christian Flag.”)...”

“Whither Dialogue After the Capitol Riot?”

Amy Uelmen
January 13, 2021

“A giant flag demanding “Make America Godly Again,” flanked by a Rambo-image of President Trump with a machine gun. A crowd peppered with flags and T-Shirts proclaiming Jesus 2020, Jesus Saves, “Jesus is My Savior, Trump is my President.” The White Christian nationalist undercurrents of the January 6, 2021 prayer rally and Jericho March on the United States Capitol are undeniable....”

“An Analysis of the Capitol Protests Through Senate Chaplain Barry Black’s Prayer”

John E. King
January 14, 2021

“Early in the morning on January 7, 2021, the Senate Chaplain Barry Black offered a prayer following the certification of Joe Biden as the lawfully elected President of the United States. Chaplain Black’s prayer was the conclusion of a long and dark day in the history of the United States of America. Only hours before, on January 6, a mob of protestors attacked the United States Capitol building at the behest of the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump...”

“Not an Act of Religious Freedom”

Patrick Hornbeck
January 15, 2021

“In the days after the horrific insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, at least some participants are being brought to justice. Grievous miscalculations by the Capitol police and other law enforcement agencies left the seat of government poorly defended, failing to prevent a riot that left five dead, dozens injured, and American democracy shaken to its core…”

“The Right to an Organic Diet of the Man Who Attacked Our Organ of Government”

Matthew P. Cavedon
January 21, 2021

“A mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Perhaps its most visible leader was a man wearing a bearskin headdress, Viking horns, and red, white, and blue face paint. And wielding a spear. Arrested in Arizona on January 9, Jacob Chansley, a.k.a. ‘Jake Angeli,’ also goes by the title ‘QAnon Shaman.’ This is no idle nickname…”

“Religion, Insurrection, and Social Forgiveness”

Joseph Margulies
January 22, 2021

“In a deeply divided nation, and especially after the events of January 6, 2021, no one is in a particularly forgiving mood. But times like these are precisely when we should make forgiveness part of our conversation. Luke 23:34 offers a simple admonition: “Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’” (Luke 23:34, KJV)…”

“Onward Christian Soldiers: Addressing American Christianity and Trump”

Deirdre Jonese Austin
February 10, 2021

“Onward, Christian soldiers! Marching as to war, With the cross of Jesus Going on before.’ Though this began as a song for a children’s processional, it also provides an apt description of the events that took place at the Capitol on Wednesday, January 6th. While it is important to note that not all the insurrectionists were White evangelicals, their presence was demonstrated by the Christian flags, crosses, and “Jesus saves” signs…”

“An Insurrection of ‘Law and Order’? The Cycle of Law-Preserving and Law-Making Violence”

J. Brent Crosson
February 11, 2021

“We are shocked. Morally outraged. How could a U.S. president, touting “law and order,” incite a blatant attack on “American democracy” and “the rule of law”? Commentators decry such hypocrisy, stating the obvious contradiction between U.S. constitutional law and violent coups. My contention in this essay is that no such contradiction exists. Rather, “the rule of law” and extralegal coups (of the right-wing variety) are two sides of a U.S.-minted coin…”