New Website Illustrates and Interprets How Religion Connects to the Events of January 6 – Baptist News Global
A new online resource document the religious components of the January 6, 2021, uprising at the United States Capitol.
Uncivil Religion: January 6, 2021 is a collaboration of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
“Religious symbols, rituals, identities, banners, signs and sounds permeated the events surrounding the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. This project begins to trace the thread of religion that ran throughout of that day through digital media,” an introduction to the site explains.
The site includes a collection of essays that analyze individual media from that day – from tweets to videos to photographs – as well as a series of galleries that show off that media.
While not an exhaustive catalog of the intersection of religion and the day’s events, the site offers a well-researched sample of the many ways in which religious ideas have both motivated protesters and were expressed by them.
In particular, the media addressed both the “Stop the Steal” rally that started the day as well as the march to the Capitol and the violent assault that occurred there as supporters of then-President Donald Trump, sought to invade the building and physically stop the election count. College ballots that would give the presidency to Joe Biden.
The creators of the site describe it as “a resource for anyone, from the general public to other scholars, interested in tracing the variety of ways in which religious identities, ideas, symbols, and rituals intersected with the events of January 6.”
Four days after the fateful events, Peter Manseau, curator of religion at the National Museum of American History, began flagging the religious images on display under the Twitter hashtag #CapitolSiegeReligion.
“I’m convinced this is *the story* of what happened,” he tweeted a few days later. “Not everyone wore a Guns & God hoodie or carried a Jesus flag, but they all shared the psychological safety net provided by these symbols.”
Other scholars, journalists and observers began noticing this trend as more videos and photographs from the day circulated. Then #CapitolSiegeReligion became a tool for Twitter users to share this material. That, in turn, led to a virtual event produced by the American Academy of Religion.
Hundreds of articles have since been published on the relationship between religious belief and insurgency. Baptist News Global has published at least 30 articles on this subject over the past year.
“We argue that religion was not just an aspect of the attack on the Capitol, but rather a common thread running through the entirety of the events of January 6,” the site’s creators explain in an introductory section to the resource. . “Our researchers sifted through thousands of articles, many of which were posted on social media platforms on or shortly after January 6, 2021, to gather, identify and catalog media. Our effort to localize material related to religion and January 6 continues. … The media we have identified not only illustrate that religion was central to the events of January 6, but also indicate the diversity (and perplexities) of American religion and its relationship to American political activity and history.
Resources and media are sorted into three categories: Christian nationalism, religious plurality, and relationships that might not appear religious at first glance, but are in fact so, referred to as the “religion behind the events”.
Researchers who have contributed to the trials include Philip Gorski of Yale University, Kristin Du Mez of Calvin College, Peter Manseu of the National Museum of American History, Matthew Gabriele of Virginia Tech University, Theodore Louis Trost of the University of Alabama, Sarah Imhoff of Indiana University, Benjamin Park of Sam Houston State University, Melissa Mathes of the US Coast Guard Academy, Lauren Horn Griffin of the University of Alabama, Dana Lloyd from Villanova University, Danielle Boaz from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Leslie Dorrough Smith from the University of Avila, Matt Sheedy from the University of Bonn in Germany, Anthea Butler from the University of Pennsylvania, Jamil Drake of Florida State University, Cody Musselman and Samhah Choudhury of Ithaca College.
The project is led by Michael Altman, associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama and Jerome Copulsky, consultant researcher at the Center for Understanding Religion in American History at the National Museum of American History. Peter Manseau acts as project advisor.
The project was supported by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.
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