Multiple witnesses appearing before the Jan. 6 commission have spoken of how they relied on their faith to withstand pressure from then-President Donald Trump and his allies — and even their own friends — to aid Trump’s plot. to steal the 2020 election after losing to Joe Biden.
“My faith really helped me through it,” Greg Jacobwho served as legal counsel to then-Vice President Mike Pence, said of the events of January 6, 2021.
Jacob, a Christian, told the Jan. 6 committee that while a violent mob of Trump supporters raided and looted the U.S. Capitol, chanting they wanted to hang Pence, he and the vice president and a few other aides got into a fight. underground parking. Secret Service agents swarmed around their black SUVs, cranking the engines for a quick escape.
Jacob took out his Bible and leafed through to the book of Daniel. “Daniel 6 was where I went,” Jacob said. “In Daniel 6 Daniel has become the second commander of Babylon, a Gentile nation, but he serves fully, faithfully. He refuses an order from the king that he cannot obey, and he does his duty according to his oath to God. And I felt that that had happened that day.”
Reading the story, Jacob said, gave him “great comfort” amid extremely difficult circumstances.
Pence’s closest adviser, Marc Short, also told the committee how he, Jacob, Pence and two other aides gathered for prayer on the morning of January 6.
“Knowing it was going to be an important day, we gathered in prayer,” Short said† The group “asked for guidance and wisdom, knowing the day was going to be challenging,” he said.
Nearly 24 hours later, after the rioters were removed from the Capitol and after Congress resumed and ended the election results, Short and Pence returned to the touchstone of their shared Christian faith.
“At 3:50 am, when we were finally suspended and going our separate ways, I remember texting the vice president a passage from 2 Timothy 4:7 about, ‘I have fought the good fight, I finished the race, I’ve kept the faith’” Short said†
This week, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers spoke about the pressure he faced from supporters of Rudy Giuliani and Trump after the 2020 election. The president’s personal attorney wanted Bowers to take procedural steps that would aid Trump’s plan. to ignore the will of the people and replace members of the Electoral College with voters who would support Trump.
But Giuliani, Bowers testified under oath, was acting from a different kind of faith, one that believed fraud had been committed and was looking for some evidence to justify that belief.
“My memory [is Giuliani] said: ‘We have many theories. We just don’t have the proof.” bowers said:†
Bowers, who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and said he voted for Trump and wanted him to win the election, spoke of a faith that contrasted sharply with Giuliani’s. Rather than using blind faith to achieve a result he wanted to be true, Bowers relied on his religious faith to accept facts he disliked and to do his duty despite a barrage of harassment and threats. for him and his family.
At Bowers’ house, Trump supporters, some with firearms, drove “panel trucks with videos of me threatening a pedophile and a pervert and a corrupt politician with neighbors and myself,” he said† “At the same time…we had a daughter who was seriously ill, who was upset by what was happening outside.”
Bowers’ adult daughter died not long after, on January 28, 2021, “after a long period of battling illness”, Bowers wrote at the time†
During his testimony, Bowers read from a journal entry, his voice sometimes trembles†
“It’s painful to have friends, who have been such a help to me, turn against me with such resentment,” he wrote in December 2020.
“I may not have the right opinion in the eyes of people or act according to their view or beliefs, but I do not take this current situation in a light, fearful or vindictive way. I don’t want to be a winner by cheating. I will not play with laws to which I have sworn allegiance.”
Bowers wrote that he was guided by his “deep fundamental desire to follow God’s will, as I believe he led my conscience to embrace.”
“How else shall I ever approach him in the wilderness of life, knowing that I ask this guidance only to show myself a coward in defending the course he led me to follow?” He wrote.
The belief of Bowers and Pence and his aides, a determination to do one’s duty despite one’s preferences and in full light of known facts, contrasted sharply with the way Trump supporters believed there was fraud, despite the lack of any evidence.
Gabriel Sterling, the Georgia election chief operating officer, told the committee about a lawyer he knew who refused to believe Trump lost. When speaking to the attorney, Sterling explained “five or six things” that were false claims made by Trump, and each time the attorney said, “OK, I understand.”
“But at the end he says, ‘I just know in my heart that they cheated,'” Sterling said.
This kind of fact-denying belief was also displayed by prominent Trump supporters in the days following the 2020 election.
“So who cares what I can prove in the courts? This is correct. This has happened and I am going to do everything I can to expose this horror, this evil,” said Eric Metaxas, an evangelical talk radio personality, said in December 2020† Metaxas made it clear that he did mean that Trump supporters should do everything.
“We have to fight to the death, to the last drop of blood, because it’s worth it,” he said.
Rod Dreher, a conservative writer who is friends with Metaxas, wrote at the time“He declares in faith that Donald Trump has won the election. How can you contradict that? That is not possible. It’s a creed. … This is fanaticism.”
Religious leaders at the time also expressed such “fanaticism” and tried to use their faith to make things come true that they wanted to be true. Pentecostal leader Lou Engle called on Christians to “surrender oneself to fasting and prayer, crying out for the exposure of voter fraud.”
Engle, who helped organize a recent meeting of more than 50,000 young people in Kansas City, Mo., said they believed demons were cheating. “I believe that there are spiritual powers in heaven and on earth who move in corruption and deceit.” he said the day after the 2020 elections.
Such evidence-free belief in political results still emerges. The Jan. 6 committee chair, Bennie Thompson, read on Tuesday the comments of a New Mexico county commissioner Couy Griffin, who refused to certify the results of a recent primaries because of his belief that the results were marred by fraud.
“My vote to remain a ‘no’ is not based on any evidence, it is not based on facts. It’s just based on my gut feeling and my own intuition and that’s all I need to base my vote on the election there.” said Griffin†
Griffin said he was a clergyman before entering politics, and also spent 20 days in prison for entering the US Capitol grounds on January 6. Griffin has said that he is “devoted to the Lord” and that on January 6, “my actions were taken as the result of my faith.”
But Pence spoke to conservative lawyers in February this year about a religious belief that doesn’t try to bend reality for the sake of power or self-preservation. He previously said that the role of faith was to enable him to do the right thing, even when it was difficult.
“Look, I understand the disappointment many feel about the last election. I was on the ballot box,” Pence said with a chuckle. “But whatever the future holds, I know we did our duty that day. And John Quincy Adams reminds us, ‘The duty is ours, the results are God’s.’”