On Wednesday, Donald Trump received the infamous distinction of being the first president in American history to be impeached twice. The House delivered a sharp and bipartisan rebuke to Trump for his role in inciting a mob of his diehard supporters into storming the Capitol the previous week.
In so doing, the House fixed responsibility on Trump for inciting the events that temporarily disrupted the certification of Trump’s defeat by Joe Biden. It resulted in one Capitol Police officer being murdered and at least 60 more being injured, and also led to Senators and Congressmen fleeing for their lives.
Ten Republicans, including caucus chairwoman Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the chamber, joined all of the Democrats in impeaching Trump for “incitement of insurrection.” The wording was a nod to the 14th Amendment, which bars anyone who engages in “insurrection and rebellion” against the United States from holding office.
But if you believe a fundie blogger who claims to delve into the prophetic realm, we shouldn’t blame Trump. Nope, he believes God was delivering a rebuke to the Democrats for defiling the Capitol by–wait for it–praying to a non-Christian god.
For much of the week before Congress met in joint session to certify Biden’s victory, the right was up in arms over a prayer offered by Congressman Emanuel Cleaver to open the 117th Congress. Cleaver, an ordained United Methodist minister who represents most of Kansas City, closed the prayer with the words, “Amen and a-woman.” Watch here.
Cleaver told KCTV in Kansas City that he was paying tribute to the record number of women in the House. He claimed that a number of lawmakers from both parties actually came up to congratulate him.
While most of the attention has been focused on the last three words, something else in Cleaver’s prayer unnerved end-times blogger Kevin Connelly. In an article that ran in Charisma magazine, Connelly took umbrage at Cleaver offering prayers to “the monotheistic god, Brahma and god known by many names by many different faiths.” Connelly pointed out that Brahma was one of the “33 million” gods of Hinduism, a religion whose gods reportedly “display characteristics resembling demons.”
To Connelly’s mind, this was rank blasphemy deserving of rebuke. He argued that the Capitol was “sacred to the United States” as the place where our laws are made, and added that this country was “consecrated to God at its inception.” Therefore, Cleaver’s prayer amounted to “a violation, a desecration, an abomination.” He believed it was even worse since Cleaver wasn’t just a guest clergyman, but a sitting member of Congress.
Connelly doesn’t think it was a coincidence that the Capitol was stormed just three days after Cleaver’s prayer. What extraordinary evidence does he offer for such an extraordinary claim? Well, Connelly pointed to the presence of QAnon conspiracy peddler and self-described shaman Jacob Chansley, better known as “Jake Angeli,” at the rally.
One of the more enduring symbols of that day’s horror was Chansley standing at the Senate president’s desk clad in a fur hat with buffalo horns. His body is festooned with tattoos of Nordic symbols. To Connelly’s mind, there was no question about it–this was a rebuke from God.
Do you see the connection? A U.S. representative desecrates Congress’ chambers with a statement equating a pagan god to the God of the universe. Three days later, protestors breached the walls of Congress, and a protestor of mixed pagan and Christian beliefs stood at the Senate’s presiding desk.
Connelly also argued that Cleaver’s first name, Emanuel, means “God is with us”–a reminder that God is very much present in our government. Combined with his last name, Connelly believes Cleaver’s name means “the man who cleaves God with us.” As for Chansley, Connelly believes his nickname, Jake Angeli, is also a sign–specifically, a warning that we have “supplanted God for false gods/demons.” All things considered, Connelly believes this is “an amazing message from God that we can’t ignore”–a rebuke of Cleaver’s “desecration” of the Capitol and a warning of the judgment to come.
Let’s consider what you have to believe if you take Connelly’s line seriously. You’d have to believe God saw fit to rebuke Cleaver and the Democrats by putting it in Trump’s heart to incite the crowd at the Ellipse into attacking the Capitol. You’d also have to believe that when these Trumpkin hordes bludgeoned Capitol Police officers with lead pipes and beat one of them to death with a fire extinguisher, it was part of a rebuke to the Democrats.
You’d have to believe that when these thugs looted the Capitol and smeared body waste all over the place, it was part of a rebuke to the Democrats. And you’d have to believe that the Democrats have no right to raise questions about people taking part in questionable tours of the Capitol less than 24 hours before the storming. And on, and on, and on.
While we’ve come to expect this sort of apocalyptic nonsense from fundies in the wake of national tragedies, this screed from Connelly is one of the most callous yet. Is Connelly willing to say this to the families of the Capitol Police officers who were murdered or gravely injured? Is he willing to say that to the Congressmen and Senators who were in fear for their lives? And is he willing to say that to their faces, rather than from the comfort of his home?
As shameful as this article was, it’s even more shameful that Charisma and its longtime publisher, Steve Strang, saw fit to run it. Granted, it’s been amply established that Strang’s editorial standards are almost nonexistent. Remember, he dismissed Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations as “nickel and dime stuff.” He saw fit to give a platform to a blatantly anti-Semitic pastor in the interest of equal time, and published another article that amounted to a paean to QAnon.
But even by those standards, to even suggest that the Democrats have only themselves to blame for the Capitol being stormed is appalling. In the secular world, this would be considered a complete failure of every standard intended to keep this kind of garbage from being published. If anyone deserves a sharp rebuke, it’s not the Democrats. It’s Connelly and Strang.
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