The Case of Adam Kinzinger

Adam Kinzinger, a GOP member of Congress representing Illinois’s 11th congressional district, is a breath of fresh air. He is one of the three evangelical Christians in Congress who voted to impeach Trump. According to Emma Green’s recent story at The Atlantic, he is also calling out his fellow evangelicals who support the former president and his ideas. Here is a taste:

Kinzinger is not a pastor or a theologian. He knows his job as a representative is not to preach the gospel but to represent his constituents and vote on legislation. When he’s dead, however, it won’t matter how many elections he won, or how low America’s tax rates are. The Lord has been speaking to him about his role as a Christian in politics, he said, and how he can reach people who are thinking about their eternal life. He has concluded that his faith and his party have been poisoned by the same conspiracy theories and lies, culminating in the falsehood that the election was stolen. When you look at “the reputation of Christianity today versus five years ago, I feel very comfortable saying it’s a lot worse,” he said. “Boy, I think we have lost a lot of moral authority.”

But people like Kinzinger have not been the ones shaping the reputation of Christianity in America over the past four years. Trump’s supporters have. Even after everything that’s happened—Trump’sattempt to overturn the election, hischeerleading for the attack on the Capitol—some influential evangelical leaders are still defending the president: “Shame, shame,” Franklin Graham, the evangelist and son of the famous pastor Billy Graham, wrote about the 10 Republicans who voted for impeachment. “It makes you wonder what the 30 pieces of silver were that Speaker Pelosi promised for this betrayal.” In the metaphor, the Republican dissidents are cast as Judas, who is said to have betrayed Jesus in exchange for 30 coins. Trump plays the role of Christ.

Looking to political personalities rather than Jesus for salvation is the worst kind of mistake a Christian can make, Kinzinger said. “There are many people that have made America their god, that have made the economy their god, that have made Donald Trump their god, and that have made their political identity their god.” The problems that led to the January 6 insurrection are not just political. They’re cultural. Roughly half of Protestant pastors said they regularly hear people promote conspiracy theories in their churches, a recent survey by the Southern Baptist firm LifeWay Research found. “I believe there is a huge burden now on Christian leaders, especially those who entertained the conspiracies, to lead the flock back into the truth,” Kinzinger tweeted on January 12.

Read the entire piece here. Green concludes: “Kinzinger doesn’t doubt that the devil is at work in American politics. He just suspects that the enemy might be lurking in his own house.”

In my research on Kinzinger, I learned that he attends Village Christian Church in Channahon, Illinois, a non-denominational evangelical congregation that appears to have some connection to the Church of Christ tradition. Kinzinger has been in Congress since 2010, but he does not appear to have run for Congress as a Christian Right candidate.