Many questions remain about the violence that occurred Wednesday in Washington, D.C., as crowds surged into the U.S. Capitol building: Who were the instigators? What happened with security? And what happens next, ahead of the Inauguration? As law enforcement works to identify participants in the D.C. protest rally-turned-riot, which led to five deaths, some Christians are speaking out about why they attended.
D.C. Protest: Who was there?
Ahead of Wednesday’s Congressional certification of the Electoral College votes, supporters of President Trump assembled outside the White House to hear him speak. Some were part of a days-long Jericho March gathering, while others attended a “Save America” rally. Crowd members held signs with messages such as “Stop the Steal” and “Jesus Saves.”
Trump spiritual adviser Pastor Paula White gave an invocation, praying that “justice be done.” The president said, “We will never concede,” because “we didn’t lose.” He then encouraged supporters to “walk down to the Capitol” and to “show strength” and “take back our country.”
When groups headed there, chaos ensued. Members of Congress sought shelter as the halls of government filled with protesters. Disturbing images led to condemnations from numerous evangelical Christian leaders as well as some Republican leaders. Some faith-based participants, however, say they had no evil intentions—and object to being labeled “domestic terrorists” by President-elect Joe Biden.
Gualberto Garcia Jones, vice president of the nonprofit LifeSiteNews.com, writes, “What I saw was a lot of people who love God and love their country. And the vast, vast majority of them truly were overwhelmingly peaceful.” While covering Wednesday’s events, he writes, “I saw a portrait of middle America: overwhelmingly Christian but racially diverse, with people of every age group and from every corner of the country.” Some were upset, he adds, and some “looked like they wouldn’t much mind a brawl with Antifa, but I did not see a single Trump supporter calling for chaos and mayhem.”
What Are Christian Attendees Saying?
Bill Dunphy, who identified himself as a Christian preacher from Ohio, told an on-scene Politico reporter he was leading prayers through a megaphone that morning, urging people to have faith and to wait for other Trump supporters to arrive. “We patriots ought to be in that building,” Dunphy says of the U.S. Capitol. “That building belongs to ‘We the People.’ They work for us.”
Kentucky Pastor Brian Gibson was in D.C. to speak at a pro-Trump event on Tuesday. He says Wednesday’s cold weather forced him back to his hotel before mayhem erupted at the Capitol and that he watched TV coverage in disbelief. Gibson has attended similar rallies, he says, and in Arizona once took a selfie with the costumed man known as the “Q Shaman,” who was photographed inside the Senate chambers Wednesday. Gibson clarifies that he merely thought the guy had the “coolest outfit” and “can’t be responsible for the thousands of pictures or the people’s actions that I’ve taken at rallies across America.”