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Opinion: Why finding truth in the Jan. 6 hearings matters for Christians


In May 1976, on the day of my graduation from Abilene Christian University, my parents and I made sure we voted in the Texas presidential primary, each for a different candidate. Politically independent thinking is in my DNA.

My dad hated politics, but he always voted. He was a veteran and a patriot. My mom was a little obsessed with politics, and a classic conservative Republican. Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan were heroes. And truth really mattered to her.  So did Truth.

That was never clearer than in the summer of 1973 when she and millions of other Americans sat glued to the televised Watergate hearings. She had voted for Richard Nixon twice. She did not want to believe he would ever lie or cheat. She believed he was a good man, the son of a Quaker.

She loved her country more than her party.  She loved God and feared the father of lies. So she watched. 

But truth mattered. She loved her country more than her party.  She loved God and feared the father of lies. So she watched. 

And over those long weeks she became convinced by the testimony of John Dean and others that a travesty had occurred. The president she trusted and supported had lied, cheated and ­— almost as bad in her mind — swore like a sailor on those tapes. His profanity may have dealt the death blow to her allegiance.

The black and white images of those hearings seem quaint today. An impatient public with the attention span of a hungry toddler can’t imagine 51 days of testimony that droned from May until November. So it’s a good thing the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol planned only seven hearings, though it reserved the right to add a few more.

Whatever. It won’t be 51.

As a citizen, as a Christian, as a truth-seeker, I determined to watch as much of these hearings as the daily obligations of life would allow.  My expectations were low.

I expected elected representatives to pontificate then throw in a question at the end to embattled witnesses. I expected thinly disguised campaigning and undisguised posturing. I expected to be irritated and appalled.


Related: Flags, faith and fury


I was wrong. I’ve not seen such respectful, solemn exchanges in a political arena in a long time, maybe ever.  I’ve seen people with voting records that bear almost nothing in common treat each other with respect and deference. In witnesses’ testimony, I’ve heard believers quote Scripture and tell of moments in prayer, and how faith informed their decision making. 

And no one rolled their eyes.

One witness described the U.S. Constitution as divinely inspired. I think that’s a stretch. I believe all Scripture is inspired by God. And I revere the Constitution. But just like I don’t think God cares who wins the Super Bowl, I don’t believe he inspires governing documents or statutes or Supreme Court opinions. He leaves such things to us.

But I respect a witness who thinks otherwise, and clearly, so did the committee members.

So why should Christians be watching, listening, thinking, caring about these hearings?

Not because the future of faith hangs in the balance. Not because the future of the church hangs in the balance. Christians have persevered, and the church has flourished, under all forms of government — democracy, socialism, kings, dictators and tribal chiefs. The Roman Empire.

God’s providence is not limited by the political machinations of men and women who pursue or exercise power. His omnipotence is not bound by our national allegiances.

Christians should care because truth matters, and because all truth is God’s truth.

Protesters wave flags and climb the walls of the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6.

Protesters wave flags and climb the walls of the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021.

The law of gravity is God’s truth.

The laws of mathematics are God’s truth.

The laws of physics are God’s truth.

Truth can be jarring. Truth can be surprising. And sometimes, to our consternation, truth can be  found in text messages, emails and sworn testimony.

Truth can be jarring. Truth can be surprising. And sometimes, to our consternation, truth can be  found in text messages, emails and sworn testimony.

That, too, is God’s truth.

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The Christians who have modeled that freedom are not the ones who invaded the Capitol, waving flags with religious icons in one hand and candidate or Confederate flags in another.

Scripture offers no precedent or justification for such behavior, and it has damaged the reputation of those who bear the name Christian. A conspiracy born of lies that comes to fruition in violence must be exposed to the light of truth.

The U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol hears testimony.

The U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol hears testimony.

Look instead to those believers whose faith compelled them to honor their oaths — to risk their careers, and at times their personal safety, to testify against a president who had appointed them and to whom they had been loyal. Those believers walked the long halls of the Capitol into a hearing room where they raised their right hands and vowed to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, “so help me God.” And they captured the attention of truth seekers on opposite sides of a contentious aisle. 

Truth matters. 

Keep watching.

CHERYL MANN BACON is a Christian Chronicle correspondent who served for 20 years as chair of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at Abilene Christian University. Contact [email protected]

 

Filed under: Capitol Capitol riot Donald Trump Editorial insurrection Jan. 6 Opinion politics President Trump Top Stories Trump U.S. Capitol U.S. politics Views

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