What should be the Christian response to the insurrection at the Capitol?
I believe it’s this: to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). The same scripture warns that, when we disconnect from the truth, we will be “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.”
Doesn’t that sound familiar?
Jesus offers an alternative: “The truth will set you free.”
This is the truth: following a fair and democratic election, Joe Biden is president of the United States. Other claims — that the election was rigged, that votes were fraudulent, that Donald Trump won by a landslide — may be appealing for various reasons, but they are not true.
This is the truth: these false claims are just the latest in a long series of lies told by a man who has lied to us, over and over again, before and during his time in office. These lies began as self-serving fantasies (“Obama is from Kenya! The crowd at my inauguration was the largest in history!”). Now, his lies have evolved into an attack on our nation’s most sacred principles.
This is the truth: even as his lies grew larger and more dangerous, Donald Trump slowly positioned himself as your one and only source of truth. He cast the press as the enemies of the state. With a single tweet, he turned once-trusted advisors into traitors. And when his favorite network dared offer the mildest criticism, he cast them aside for networks content to report whatever he said as fact.
This is the truth: some of us have been watching in horror and great sadness as those we love — our friends, our families — have followed this leader deep into a web of conspiracies and lies. We’ve watched as people we love have bought into an increasingly crazy series of delusions:
- that a child-molestation ring was being run out of the basement of a pizza joint
- that a global pandemic pandemic is a political ploy
- that the miracle of vaccination is an attempt to alter human DNA with nanotechnology
- that wearing a mask to protect others is a sign of weakness
- that everything is controlled by a mysterious Deep State
- that the Pope has been arrested as the leader of a worldwide network of cannibals who devour the blood of innocent children
- that Trump will (any minute now!) sign an “Insurrection Act” and declare martial law
- that all television and the internet (any minute now!) will be shut down in a nationwide blackout
- that Trump will (any minute now!) use the Emergency Broadcast Network to direct a nationwide uprising
- that the world is under siege by a secret cabal of shape-shifting lizard people.
This is the truth: we are weary of seeing good people tricked into accepting these bizarre beliefs as realities. We are sick, deep in our souls, that you spend more time listening to shadowy figures whisper vague prophecies of doom over the internet than you do breaking bread with us. We are stunned when people we love and respect continue to support a manifestly fascist and racist leader: to vote for him, to support “the party, but not him,” to point to “his good achievements” — or worse, to shrug, turn a blind eye, or talk about anything else as a way to “keep the peace,” while ignoring the fact that failing to confront a lie is just as shameful as telling one.
This is the truth: our hearts are broken. They are broken for you, because we see the agony and fear and anger that has stolen your joy. They are broken for us, because we love you and miss you. We see that every step you take down this path takes you farther and farther away from reality … and, therefore, farther and farther away from us. We feel abandoned and cast aside. We cannot understand how someone who used to be so happy, so present, so connected, and so kind has become someone so bitter, so angry, so distracted, so untethered, so lost.
This is the truth: we know it will be almost impossible for you to back out of this. It is always hard to say, “I was wrong.” It is harder to admit we’ve been duped. It is soul-shattering to realize you’ve given precious hours of your life to a false cause. It is devastating to realize you’ve become an extremist, a mouthpiece, a pawn. It is painful and embarrassing to admit that a part of you knew, all along, that you were saying and doing things that, way down deep in your heart, you knew were anything but true.
This is the truth: even though this will be the hardest thing you have ever done, you must make a change. For your own good, you must turn off the fringe news networks, delete your accounts on social media echo chambers, and stop listening to extremist radio shows and podcasts that profit off your misery and confusion. You must stop giving time and attention to slick-talking gurus who hint at secret knowledge and whisper about what must shortly come to pass. You must turn a deaf ear to calls for violence. You must stop being friends with people who stoke your worst fears and trouble your spirit.
This is the truth: once you muster the courage and strength to set these things aside, we are still here for you. We still love you. We want you back. We cannot wait to embrace you! We want to be your friends again, to be your family again, to sit with you at the table and share a meal, to laugh and joke and talk like we used to, to work with you, to be friends despite our minor differences in belief and opinion because those differences are what make us wacky, and unique and charming and complicated and human.
This is the truth: we will not judge you. We will not ask “Why?” We will not say “I told you so.” We will hug you. We will pray with you. We will laugh with you. We may cry a little, too, but it will be because we are so happy — so happy! — to have you back here, with us, here, in a world where facts make a difference, where science is respected, where people focus more on what unites them than on what divides them, where friends can just chat, where families can talk about things that really matter … where we can get back to loving each other again.
This is the truth: our hearts are full. We are waiting. We are reaching out for you. Our arms are open, and you are just one step away. Just tell us: “I’m done. I’m back. It’s over,” and we will drop everything just to welcome you home.
This is the truth.
Please, please — for you, for me, for the nation, for all of us — let this truth set you free.