Materials the House Jan. 6 committee released during its final days show a deeper link between Christian nationalism and the attempted insurrection than the committee revealed in its final report. These documents raise questions about whether the committee adequately probed these ties and informed the public about them.
At the core of these details is the role of the Jericho March coalition, which organized a large rally on the National Mall on Dec. 12, 2020, followed by smaller events leading up to the Capitol attack on Jan. 6.
As I reported in January 2021, the Jericho March was founded by two activists, one evangelical and one Catholic, who claimed that the election had been stolen from Trump, that God wanted them to “let the church roar,” and that God would ultimately reveal the election was fraudulent. The Dec. 12 event, emceed by popular evangelical author Eric Metaxas, provided a megaphone for Trump’s evangelical and Catholic supporters (including Metaxas), who believed that God wanted spiritual warriors to fight the “deep state” on Trump’s behalf. The president even flew over the march in Marine One.
The committee’s report is shy about the religious motivation of the Jericho March and its organizers.
The Jan. 6 report refers to the Jericho March as one of two “critically important” rallies that “helped pave the way for the events of January 6th.” But its organizers were not outside-the-Beltway activists displaying flag and cross on the National Mall. They were on the payroll of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, which during Trump’s administration had been a hotbed of activity for political appointees who sought to restrict reproductive and LGBTQ rights and promote expanded religious freedoms for conservative Christians.
One of the organizers, Arina Grossu, was a contractor in the HHS Office of Civil Rights. Another, Robert Weaver, was an adviser in the department’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. (Three years previously, the White House had withdrawn Weaver’s name from consideration for a different HHS position that, unlike that faith-based role, required Senate confirmation, after The Wall Street Journal revealed he had lied on his résumé about his work history.) In an interview with the conspiracist site Epoch Times, Weaver even mentioned that he had worked for the federal government and claimed he’d “seen a lot of really hidden things that I just can’t stand.”
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Remarkably, the Jan. 6 committee's final report never mentions Grossu’s and Weaver’s roles at HHS. The brief, and only, discussion of the Jericho March is included in Chapter 6 of the report, and focuses mainly on those who spoke at the Dec. 12 rally, including convicted seditionist and Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, conspiracist Alex Jones, disgraced Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, and far-right provocateur Ali Alexander, whose Stop the Steal organization partnered with the Jericho March.
In Grossu's interview with the committee, she maintained that Weaver had been in contact with speakers like Rhodes and other far-right figures, while she focused on securing Catholic speakers for the event. She repeatedly emphasized the “spiritual” nature of the Jericho March, and eschewed violence. She said she had not heard Rhodes’ speech at the Jericho March in which he said that if Trump did not “show the world who the traitors are and then use the Insurrection Act to drop the hammer on them,” then “we’re going to have to do it ourselves later in a much more desperate, much more bloody war.”
The report shied away from the term “Christian nationalist,” using it only once to refer to white supremacist Nick Fuentes and his America First, or Groypers, movement.
As for Weaver, there is no interview or deposition transcript among the materials the committee made public.
Documents released by the committee show more connections between the Jericho March and its far-right partners than is discussed in its final report. For example, Grossu appears in Ali Alexander’s text messages as part of a group chat called “God’s Army,” asking Alexander on Jan. 5 about passes and a meeting spot for Jan. 6. (Grossu’s participation in the “God’s Army” group chat was first reported by Rolling Stone.) The same messages show Weaver, on Jan. 5, pressing Alexander to promote messages the Jericho March created at the request of Trump lawyer and election conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell, telling Alexander that Powell wanted “even more pressure on the states and the vp and the senators.” In a Dec. 12, 2020, interview during the Jericho March, Grossu mentioned Powell’s false claims about voting “irregularities.” She then promised, “God can reveal all the election fraud and corruption that stole the election from him [Trump].”
The committee’s report is similarly shy about the religious motivation of the Jericho March and its organizers, calling Jericho March a “self proclaimed Judeo-Christian” organization. In the interview with the Epoch Times, Weaver put his views in much starker terms, comparing the marchers to the story of Joshua’s army and declaring Jesus is “the real government.” At the march, Michael Flynn compared the walls around the “deep state” to the biblical walls of Jericho. “The state has no jurisdiction over any of us,” thundered Alex Jones. “Our relationship with God is sacred and is eternal.”
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This is all Christian nationalist language. But the report shied away from the term “Christian nationalist,” using it only once to refer to white supremacist Nick Fuentes and his America First, or Groypers, movement. That single mention gives the erroneous impression that Christian nationalism is limited to the furthest extremes of the MAGA right. In fact, it is at the core of the Republican Party and its religious right base.
The lack of scrutiny into Grossu and Weaver was part of a broader aversion by the Jan. 6 committee toward explaining how Christian nationalism propelled the events of Jan. 6. Perhaps cowed by the prospect that it would be accused of infringing on peoples’ religious freedom, the committee avoided scrutinizing how the Christian right kept Trump in power through his first impeachment, and energized millions of Americans to believe it was God’s will that he became, and should remain, president.
But we will never fully understand the insurrection, or the next Republican presidency, without first reckoning with the role of Republican and religious right activists who believe God is telling them to fight an existential battle for a Christian America.