Barely a full week into the new year and 2021 was already trying to compete with 2020. On January 6th the unthinkable happened. The US Capitol building was attacked by its own citizens.
I watched the news miles away in New Zealand, shocked at what I was seeing but not at all surprised.
It was the perfect storm of online conspiracy theories, right wing rhetoric and people just fed up with the government and after a few certain people of influence fanned the flames it all came to be. 5 people died that day. It was very sad.
But as I reflect on what happened, I couldn't shake the uneasy image of the “Jesus saves” sign I saw in the crowd of “QANON”, “MAGA”, “Blue Lives Matter” and “Trump” flags.
What was a “Jesus saves” sign doing there?
The uncomfortable truth is Christianity has been used as a tool throughout history to colonise indigenous people and force them to become more “westernised”. This in turn has made everything “western culture” the default normal and anything outside of this as “other” or “bad”.
It is not a huge leap for white supremacists to leech into these insecurities as the world and the church becomes more inclusive and pulls people towards their side, which is what they set out to do. They are also very good at it.
Many well meaning people including Christians have been deceived.
That is why you see “Jesus saves” signs at these types of protests. They are told everyone on the other side is out to take away their free speech and destroy the church.
If you are someone who has been carried away by “Trump mania”, have no fear. God is so much bigger than the world's politics and laws. He doesn’t need our permission to speak and can speak for himself.
Forgiveness and prayer
It would be easy to stay angry at our friends and family that went down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories and Trump rhetoric but do believe they need our love and prayer. Especially now that the rug has been pulled out from underneath them with Biden becoming the 46th President of the USA.
Deconstructing of one's beliefs is hard but necessary for us to grow as people.
Praying for people who are toxic does not mean you have to welcome them back into your life. You have permission to keep your boundaries.
I do pray that America will unite against covid much like how we did in New Zealand. I want to be able to visit our family again some day.
I hope 2021 will be a better year.
Chanell Diaz is a member of The Salvation Army in New Zealand. She and her husband Ronald both work as child care workers and Chanell is also a qualified Youth Worker through Praxis. Chanell has a heart for justice and enjoys creating art and writing in her spare time.