Wheaton College faculty condemn 'abuses of Christian symbols' at Capitol siege
Faculty members at Wheaton College have denounced last week's assault on the U.S. Capitol, decrying the "abuses of Christian symbols" displayed in the riot and directly criticizing President Donald Trump in contrast to the school's response to the siege.
The evangelical Christian college released a statement that condemned the violence but did not mention Trump nearly a week after a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol. Faculty members also issued their own statement on Monday.
As of Tuesday, 245 Wheaton faculty and staff members had signed a statement speaking out against the use of Christian imagery seen in the crowds. Rioters carried crosses, Bibles and a "Jesus 2020" banner while others waved Confederate flags.
"The January 6 attack on the Capitol was characterized not only by vicious lies, deplorable violence, white supremacy, white nationalism, and wicked leadership -- especially by President Trump -- but also by idolatrous and blasphemous abuses of Christian symbols," the faculty statement said. "The behaviors that many participants celebrated in Jesus' name bear absolutely no resemblance to the Christian teachings or ethics that we submit to as faculty and staff of Wheaton College."
The faculty members at the college, the alma mater of the late Rev. Billy Graham, also rebuked evangelical leaders who "could have spoken truth to the disillusioned supporters of President Donald Trump" in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6 assault.
"Some did. However, many wittingly propagated lies, or were unduly silent in a just cause," the statement read.
Some evangelical figures have repeated Trump's false claims about widespread election fraud. U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who has become one of the president's frequent GOP critics, on Tuesday called on "Christian leaders, especially those who entertained the conspiracies, to lead the flock back into the truth."
Trump had strong support from white evangelical voters during his reelection campaign. But his presidency has highlighted fault lines separating evangelicals.
"I don't know the Jesus some have paraded and waved around in the middle of this treachery today," prominent author Beth Moore tweeted of the Capitol siege. "They may be acting in the name of some other Jesus, but that's not Jesus of the Gospels."
Wheaton faculty members said they started drafting the statement before they were made aware of a formal statement by the college.