Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists? title=
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?
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By Robert Bernstein

UCSB Professor Mark Juergensmeyer was recently interviewed by a reporter from The Economist magazine. She wanted to know what religion has to do with the rise in terrorism in the world today.

That was the subject of his April talk to the Humanist Society of Santa Barbara. Starting with the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

Juergensmeyer is a pioneer in the global studies field, focusing on global religion, religious violence, conflict resolution, and South Asian religion and politics. He has published more than three hundred articles and thirty books, including the recent "God at War".

Gavin McInnes was the founder of the Proud Boys, one of the groups involved in that attack. Born in Scotland, his family migrated to Canada when he was four. He had been a reputable journalist and was a co-founder of Vice Media.

But he became a white supremacist and started a new mission in life.

Proud Boys takes its name from the song "Proud of Your Boy" from the Disney movie "Aladdin".

After McInnes stepped down from the Proud Boys, Cuban American Enrique Tarrio took over. Why would a Cuban American be a champion of white supremacy?

Juergensmeyer has been to Cuba and witnessed racism that was worse than in the US. Tarrio is typical of Cuban Americans who don't want to be lumped together with other minorities.

The Oath Keepers is another group that participated in the January 6 attack. It is composed of current and former military, police and other first responders. They imagine an American past of a Christian nation that never existed.

In fact, the Founders were mostly deists. When Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence he referred to Nature with a capital N as the source of our rights.

QAnon is a wacky conspiracy theory that sometimes claims to be a secret branch of the government. It is led by an anonymous leader who calls himself Q. Their ideas are closely tied to religious concepts of Millenarianism and Apocalypticism.

The idea that we are in the End Times. Left Behind is a bestselling series of books that promotes this idea.

They see Trump as their savior. His actions as savior are prophesied to happen in his second term. Which is why they see it as so crucial that he win a second term.

They also deal with anti-Christ evil. This evil includes journalists as well as figures like Obama and Hillary Clinton. They have invented an utterly absurd array of conspiracy theories.

Notably, QAnon adopted the bizarre Pizzagate conspiracy theory which involves claims of pedophilia, child abduction and a DC pizza parlor. A Pizzagate follower Edgar Maddison Welch actually shot up that pizza parlor in his delusional state, thinking he was going to rescue children in their basement. Except the place has no basement.

Jake Angeli (born Jacob Anthony Angeli Chansley) is the notorious character seen in fur and horns at the Capitol attack. He carried a sign that said "Q Sent Me" on one side. But on the other side it read "Hold the Line Patriots – God Wins".

Juergensmeyer showed other images from the Capitol attack with very clear religious messages. A woman carries a poster of Jesus wearing a MAGA hat. A massive wooden cross.

He showed an image of Oath Keepers bowing and praying before the Capitol attack.

He noted that churches don't support these groups in general.

But many of those participating in the attack care about white supremacy and Christian supremacy. Anti-Jewish themes are a part of this ideology. He showed photos of a man wearing a "Camp Auschwitz" tee shirt and another with a tee shirt proclaiming that "Six Million Wasn't Enough".

This was also seen in the Charlottesville riot. Their Christian ideology also includes being anti Muslim and anti gay.

Where is this discontent coming from? Globalization. A sense of losing national culture and feeling left out of one's own society.

Juergensmeyer noted this is not unique to the US. It is seen in Germany, Austria. Denmark and among Shinto Japanese. They want to recreate an imagined past that never existed.

Putin plays the same game in Russia. Juergensmeyer showed a photo of former Communist Putin posing with Russian Orthodox church figures.

It also explains Brexit in England. In fact, England has suffered economically from Brexit. And the mayor of London was originally from Pakistan.

Trump voters in interviews said the same thing as Brexit voters. It is about trade, foreigners and culture.

Juergensmeyer reminded us of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh. McVeigh was not portrayed as a Christian. But Juergensmeyer said Christian identity was very important to him. When he was arrested, his trunk was full of copies of The Turner Diaries that he had been selling.

The Turner Diaries is about a fictional revolution in which Jews, non-whites and liberals are exterminated. It even includes details very similar to how McVeigh carried out his truck bombing attack.

McVeigh could not quote the Bible. It was not about that. It was about Christian identity.

Juergensmeyer wrote a book "Global Rebellion" that explained that for these angry white men it is all about three things:

Juergensmeyer went on to talk about the crisis in Iraq after the US invasion. Under Saddam Hussein Iraq had been secular. The war planners thought it would stay secular. But Iraq has religious divisions between the Sunni minority and the Shia majority. The Sunni had more power under Saddam Hussein.

But most Iraqis live in the fertile area near the Tigris and Euphrates near Iran which is mostly Shia, like Iran. The US invasion was a chance for the Shia and for Iran to take control of the country.

Juergensmeyer showed a photo of himself at a refugee camp. The refugees explained that as awful as ISIS may be, they represented a chance for Sunnis to regain power.

Another Millenarian vision. The Caliph. The Savior at the end of time. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi claimed he was that prophesied savior.

Juergensmeyer showed an image of Mosul after US forces brutally bombed it. The excuse was to get rid of ISIS. But thousands of homes were destroyed. Making conditions ripe for a new ISIS.

He switched over to Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. We think of Buddhists as being all about peace and non-violence. Yet Buddhist monks have attacked the tiny Rohingya Muslim minority.

Their attacks were savage. Burning villages and burning Muslims alive. The police just stood by and watched. What could justify that?

The Buddhists have the same fear as the white supremacists in the US: They fear globalization and a loss of their identity.

Time Magazine showed The Face of Buddhist Terror on its cover.

Wirathu is his name and Juergensmeyer had a photo of a meeting with him. He had a collection of news clippings covering himself, both good and bad. He asked Juergensmeyer, "Do I look like a terrorist?" Actually, yes was Juergensmeyer's reply.Juergensmeyer went on to discuss the issue of security in the case of the island of Mindanao in the South Pacific. It is technically a part of the Philippines, but for much of its history it was mostly neglected by the Philippines government. Except to the extent that the Moros, a Muslim minority there, were oppressed.This old Muslim kingdom considers itself separate. The Philippines government brought in Christians from other areas to change the character of Mindanao.

Some Moros identified with ISIS. To feel part of a global movement. They took a city hostage. So the government bombed the city and destroyed it.

Juergensmeyer talked to a man in that city. He had not been big on Muslim separatism. But the bombing made him oppose the government.

Amazingly, this story has a happy ending. Juergensmeyer was part of an effort to come to a negotiated settlement.

The Muslims were given autonomous regions in the southern part of Mindanao. So far, it has worked to keep the peace!

Juergensmeyer ended by returning to the central point of his talk: Why the return to religion? Because it all comes back to:

Globalization makes people feel uncertain. Religion tells you who is in charge and what to believe.Juergensmeyer is optimistic that there is a future beyond these divisions.

During the question and answer he gave the example of Northern Ireland as another case where seemingly impossible divisions were overcome. Decades of "Troubles" of bombings, assassinations and torture by both sides. People got exhausted. It took courageous people on both sides to move beyond the conflict.

Humanist Society President Judy Flattery asked about Biden's proposed withdrawal from Afghanistan.Juergensmeyer agreed that it is a gamble. But there is really no other choice. There is not just one Taliban. An agreement with one group may not be recognized by another. Some of the violence is among these Taliban factions. If a solution has not been found in 20 years it is not likely more time will help. Especially since the American presence itself is part of the conflict.

It is important to remember that the US is largely responsible for the oppressive power of extreme fundamentalist Islam in Afghanistan. For decades the Soviet Union had backed a secular liberal government in Afghanistan.

Juergensmeyer was based in Punjab, India back then and loved to visit Kabul. Women wore skirts and it was truly modernizing.

It was President Carter and then President Reagan who funded and armed the most extreme Muslim terrorists in Afghanistan. Not as a response to the Soviets. But as an actual provocation to the Soviets to create a crisis. Forcing an invasion and a war that could not be won.

The result was a horrific war and a transition of Afghanistan to a most backward and oppressive form of Islam.

As long as the US remains there it is a recruiting tool for the Taliban.

Whether it is the Taliban, ISIS or the Proud Boys, people get caught up in what he called a "cosmic war". Fighting for something really big.

Perhaps if we give people something big and positive to be a part of, then they can get that sense while making the world a better place.

Juergensmeyer emphasized that peaceful settlements require all sides to feel that they have been heard. That their needs have been met. A good settlement does not have to give anything that either side may have been asking for. It may give something bigger and better that goes to the root needs that they really have.

For more information about upcoming events with the Humanist Society of Santa Barbara or to become a member, please go to

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sbdude Apr 27, 2021 08:05 AM
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

So in short, Jurgensmeyer blames religious/sectarian violence for much of the world's problems. Fair enough. Secular or anti-religious states seem to be just as bad, though. I seem to recall the Soviet Union, especially under Stalin, or Maoist China as being particularly evil in the name of official atheism. And implying that the official secularism under Saddam led to unity is a laugh. The Iraquis hated each other for centuries, but under Saddam causing any problems led to summary execution. Oh, and for the record, ISIS was responsible for most of the destruction of Mosul, and the battle for Mosul was fought primarily between ISIS and Iraqui government forces. Mark J ought to know better.

PitMix Apr 27, 2021 10:30 AM
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

The problem with governments is not whether you believe in a higher power, it's whether you act to provide equal opportunity to all of your citizens. But people in all countries lusting after power don't have equality as their primary goal. To the extent that we currently have some of it in some countries on earth is just luck for those citizens, and I wonder how long it will last as we start to fight over increasingly scarce resources?

sacjon Apr 26, 2021 06:27 PM
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

LAKERGIRL- you admit you don't care about Proud Boys or Qanon. Yeah, no surprise. Most racists and insurrectionists don't "care" about white supremacist, anti-government groups. Thing is, people of color and other minorities DO care. Think about someone other than yourself for once.

a-1619483980 Apr 26, 2021 05:39 PM
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

My favorite thing about edhat is reading the comments from people who complain about edhat and comment on edhat after reading edhat every day. It's always that people who consistently break the rules and then whine about there being rules.

LincolnLady Apr 26, 2021 05:15 PM
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

Hi folks, real Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship between us, our Heavenly Father, and His Son, Who willingly took whatever punishment we deserve for whatever we've done wrong (and believe me, none of us are perfect, I'm certainly not). Real Christianity is summed in this verse: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." (NASB) As a result, we can have a real relationship with our Creator. That's a Wow! Historically, Christianity has been used by various people, including those studied by Juergensmeyer (good for him), to justify the bad behavior of themselves and their particular political-social movements. I think that's because either they don't know what Christianity is, or they are using it to sell their particular brand of political snake oil. Check Scripture for yourself. Here's a good website if you don't have a Bible on hand: One other thing: if we really don't like what's happening in our country, we can always remove any politicians who are doing us wrong. We don't need to riot and create chaos to do that. We can vote. That is what America is all about. :-)

PdW Apr 27, 2021 03:28 PM
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

I would say that's also too far though AHCHOOO. Certainly many deaths can be attributed to religion, but saying it's the single greatest cause is also taking it too far as well. We're talking about the history of the world. Let's zoom in on the 20th century, can we really blame religion as the cause of WW1 and WW2? What about the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia? The list goes on and on.

And honestly what role does religion play in the vast majority of murders that happen every single day around the world? The vast majority of them have absolutely nothing to do with religion, unless you are saying that money and jealousy and lust and hate are completely and solely attributable to religion.

Ahchooo Apr 27, 2021 02:04 PM
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

I would edit GeneralTree’s comment to “...the single *greatest* cause of murder...”
Not the single cause, but the single greatest cause. But I’m not GeneralTree, so I don’t know for sure what he meant.

dukemunson Apr 27, 2021 10:48 AM
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

Was the drug deal gone bad in ‘Noleta double murder religious based?? EVERY SINGLE MURDER IN WORLD HISTORY! Truly your wildest comment ever... and that’s really REALLY saying something senor tree!

GeneralTree Apr 27, 2021 09:50 AM
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

Duke, he most famous estimate is 56 million deaths, but a more critical examination would put Christianity's death toll at 9.064 to 28.734 million. However, if you widen responsibility to mean any mass atrocity caused by largely Christian societies regardless of motive then the death toll of Christianity would ascend to 82.069 to 106.734 million deaths. This is more or less equal to the 85 to 100 million deaths from communism described in the "Black Book of Communism," that all get blamed on atheism regardless of other motives to the killings. This is what you'd be doing here if all of these deaths were blamed on Christianity alone. These numbers don't even include other relgions.

dukemunson Apr 27, 2021 07:03 AM
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

GT - religion is the single cause of murder and war...? Wow... that’s a pretty wild statement! I mean... it makes no sense and has no logical backing... and shows no appreciation or understanding of history in really any capacity... but at least it’s notable!! EVERY SINGLE MURDER AND WAR???!!!

GeneralTree Apr 26, 2021 10:22 PM
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

Christianity and other religions are the single cause of murder and war in world history. The Pope invited Hitler through the front door of the Vatican. Christianity was invented by the Romans to placate Hebrews. Now evangelicals worship Trump who is a false prophet. They also follow Q because of their predisposition to believe anything.....

LincolnLady Apr 26, 2021 06:18 PM
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

That wasn't real Christianity doing that, even if done under the mantle of what looks like a Christian religion (the formal attire, the buildings, the "religious" behavior). Real Christianity is John 3:16. Real Christianity is being born-again, receiving the Holy Spirit to set us free from wrongdoing (John 3:3). Real Christianity is the freedom to live by our conscience if we want to, without being punished. Fake-Christian-political-social movements use violence and threats of it to punish those who oppose, based on their conscience, what the movement is selling (aka snake oil). Fake "Christian" movements often fudge the Scripture they're using for their political (or religious) purpose. Or they just ignore Scripture altogether. I've seen it.

a-1619482786 Apr 26, 2021 05:19 PM
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

@Lincoln, REAL Christianity caused numerous wars, killed millions of people and segregated millions more. REAL Christianity is a REAL religion based on a book written by men. It's an organized religion and it must take on all the bad with the purported good that it promotes. If you want to talk about a real connection between a human and some kind of higher power that doesn't come with a silly book or rules, it's not Christianity.

Pschlage Apr 26, 2021 05:08 PM
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

The world is a complicated place -- simplicity and certainty are illusions. For every action there is a reaction. That means we should be considering the intended consequences and the unintended consequences of our actions and others. Most of us only consider the intended consequences.

Ahchooo Apr 26, 2021 03:38 PM
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

I wish we could all sit and think a bit about what Juergensmeyer was saying. Choosing a side and pointing out who you hate is really not the message he was trying to send. He has done research on many groups, many religions, in many countries. One doesn’t have to believe his philosophy, but at least pay attention to what he’s saying.

a-1619474757 Apr 26, 2021 03:05 PM
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

As Voltaire said, "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities". It applies to religions, politicians that pander to religions, and right-wing "infotainment".

GeneralTree Apr 26, 2021 02:03 PM
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

A lot of little old religious ladies got bound up in that Q nonsense and became radicalized. Check the comments for any KSBY article on Facebook or any post about SLO. Full of them. Let the deprogramming and purges begin.

sacjon Apr 26, 2021 01:54 PM
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

OOPS - this is an article about white Christian terrorism. Even if you believe ANTIFA is a terrorist organization (which it's not by the definition of the term "terrorism"), you'd be pretty hard pressed to label it as a white Christian group, right? Try to stay on topic.

GeneralTree Apr 26, 2021 02:49 PM
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

Which cities are burning? Lakergirl creating non-existent statistics to defend her nationalism. As of July, 329 victims in the last 25 years have been killed by your friends, while antifa members haven't killed any.

MarcelK Apr 26, 2021 05:39 PM
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

That link is a Washington Examiner / Andy Ngô piece that, as usual, is chock full of falsehoods. It's propaganda, not reporting; no decent, honest person propagates his stuff. From his Wikipedia page: "Ngo's actions and role in covering issues (particularly civil unrest in Portland, Oregon following the killing of George Floyd) have received media attention.[82][83] In December 2019, The Oregonian named Ngo one of 2019's Top 15 Newsmakers citing events that included his attack, his surge in prominence within conservative circles, and his circulation of "heavily edited videos of several altercations to his then-270,000 Twitter followers, racking up millions of views online while spreading inaccurate claims and limited context about what transpired."[83]

In August 2020, The Southern Poverty Law Center said in an interview with philosopher and How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them author Jason Stanley that Ngo had been caught misrepresenting facts and that "what he says goes substantially viral after that."[84] Stanley contended that Ngo promotes a "false equivalence [between left and right political violence in the U.S.], when there's no such equivalence at all", noting that hundreds of Americans had been killed in far-right violence since 1990 while none had been killed by Antifa.[84]

Writing for MIT Technology Review in September 2020, Harvard University faculty member Joan Donovan addressed the use of video in social media to encourage an outrage response, stating that Ngo was one of two right-wing adversarial media-makers promoting "riot porn" consisting of videos of conflict at public protests that are edited, decontextualized, and shared among online followers.[55]

By October 2020, Politico reported Ngo had established approximately 800,000 social media followers and had become a mega influencer that was a "key source for rightwing audiences in search of news about the Black Lives Matter movement."[82]

Bellingcat reported that Ngo's viral video content was recirculated by President Trump following the Million MAGA March in November 2020.[66]"

Voice of Reason Apr 26, 2021 03:26 PM
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

GT, I very clearly wrote that they have no place in our society, yet you chooe not to read or accept that part because it doesn't fit with your slander. You asked Lakergirld who they murdered, and I provided an answer an you seem think it's okay that he was killed, I would recommend you carefully read the Voltaire quote someone posted, and think long and hard about it.

sacjon Apr 27, 2021 10:48 AM
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

VOR - you continue to defend Lakergirl's attempts to drag ANTIFA into this and ignore white supremacist groups. Fact. That's all that matters.

As for the pandemic...... uh, wrong article buddy. Try to stay focused.

Voice of Reason Apr 27, 2021 10:43 AM
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

I posted nothing of the sort Sac. On the contrary, I have been a very vocal critic of CA's horrendous pandemic response, which you have been a vocal supporter of. A pandemic response that has done more than anything else in our states history to increase income and education inequality, which disproportionately impacts "those who have been suffering for generations from white oppression and racial inequality". CA basically threw the lower class, which is disproportionately BIPOC, right in front of the covid bus. Using your own argument Sac, you sir are racist.

sacjon Apr 27, 2021 10:18 AM
Proud Boys and White Nationalists: Christian Terrorists?

VOR - once again, this article is about the Proud Boys and other white supremacist groups. ANTIFA, while admittedly violent and WRONG, is not one of these groups. Therefore, ergo, in conclusion, trying to shift the topic, while admittedly saying you don't care about white supremacist groups, is not cool and is inherently racist. You don't need to wear a white hood to be "racist." It's the little things, like ignoring and downplaying white supremacist groups that make you a racist. Refusing, over and over and over again, to even make the smallest effort to try to put yourself in the shoes (empathy) of those who have been suffering for generations from white oppression and racial inequality, is..... you guessed it: racist. There's no arguing this fact. If you refuse to acknowledge racism, guess what you are? No hood/swastika/shaved head needed.


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