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Pagan America

Pagan America

By Mark Tooley
January 13, 2021

With his horns and animal fur, Jake Angeli, also known as the QAnon Shaman, is one of the more high profile now arrested invaders of the U.S. Capitol. Shamans are pagans in touch with the spirit world. This particular shaman is especially in touch with the spirit world of QAnon, the popular conspiracy network that motivated many who attacked the Capitol. QAnon, like many pagan spiritualities, promises special insider knowledge and prophecies to its believers, who are a self-selected elect.

My Jewish friend Jonathan Silver in Mosaic noted:

"Pagan" is an apt description of the oft-photographed rioter who has become the face and the symbol of the day. The man is apparently known as Q Shaman. He sauntered into the Capitol draped in an animal hide, bare chested and covered in tattoos, his face painted, and wearing animal horns on his head. He doesn't look like a European barbarian by accident; no, he is intentionally invoking the unconstrained ethic of power that, in Europe, Christianity sought to tame. In the West, Judaism and Christianity have taught us that every woman and man is created in the image and likeness of God. Without that fundamental truth, no American commitment to civic and legal equality can long endure. We are seeing that proposition proved daily.

Many commentators have ascribed the January 6 Capitol assault to "Christian nationalism," and the charge is not unfair. There were Christian flags and symbols among the attackers. No doubt some of the attackers are sincerely religious and believe themselves to be Christian. Many perhaps actually are. Christian faith by itself does not promise wisdom or prudence. And Christians we know can defy the teachings of their faith and commit grave depravities that rank with any pagan's, if not worse.

But as Silver notes, the thrust of the Capitol assault was a post-Jewish/Christian neo-pagan will to power based on cultural and racial identity. The Proud Boys, a sect of men who claim they're defending Western Civilization, played a prominent role in the January 6 attack. Libertarian and sexually laissez-faire, the Proud Boys exalt a pagan form of masculinity and strength at odds with Jewish and Christian understandings about protecting the weak and vulnerable. In their sense of grievance, they claim superiority.

In contrast, the U.S. Capitol is a temple to America's commitment to liberty and equality. Those concepts are rooted in the Bible's assertion that all are created equally by God, all equally bear His image, all merit dignity because of their Creator, and all will be judged by His righteous standards. Jewish and Christian universality rejects pagan tribal deities under whom some people by virtue of birth or race or supposed special merit are more valuable than others.

At odds with the universal God of Jews and Christians, the Capitol attackers were fanatical tribalists waging war with other tribes they imagine as their enemy. But ultimately their enemy is the universal God who is no respecter of tribes. Silver writes of American political tribalisms that reject biblical universality:

The post-religious left combines sexual self-definition and racial determinism, and the post-religious right rejects the proposition of human equality altogether. These American tribes and their delusions must be opposed by a party of the left and a party of the right that are both committed to building up a nation of laws that apply equally to all. We American Jews can play a role in the pursuit of democratic justice, for there can be no Heaven on earth, and democratic self-government is the best regime we can hope for. That the American framers have established this possibility for us is a cause for gratitude.

Silver suggests: "We begin to build ourselves up by bowing our heads in reverence." That reverence begins with reverence for God, extends to reverence for America's laws and Constitution, and importantly requires reverence for human equality and dignity that God and our American system require.

The QAnon Shaman told National Review: "I am a true patriot that believes in the founding documents, that believes in our founding principles." No. Like other QAnon cultists, he mouths this rhetoric while assuming that his own shamanistic sect can, through its own unique spiritual powers, rightly understand, reinterpret and corrupt those principles for its own advantage. He was raised Catholic but later realized it was "a bunch of bull." At least he is honest in his rejection of Christianity in favor of pagan alternatives. Most among the Capitol attackers are less honest.

This QAnon Shaman although crazy and criminal at least seems nonviolent. He apparently did not deploy his spear against anyone during the Capitol attack. He likes organic food and is an environmentalist. His bare chested physique suggests he spends lots of time at the gym, which maybe is his true temple. Other Capitol attackers were more malevolent and murderous.

Six are dead from the attack, among them U.S. Capitol policeman Brian Sicknick, who was smashed in the head by a fire extinguisher. At least 58 DC police officers and an unreported number of Capitol police are wounded. The most horrifying video from the assault shows the mob dragging and pounding an officer while one stabs him with the pole of an American flag as the mob chants "USA, USA!"

Such behavior is demonic. May God have mercy on these wretched souls.

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