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The Capitol Riot Revealed the Darkest Nightmares of White Evangelical America

How 150 years of apocalyptic agitation culminated in an insurrection

By Matthew Avery Sutton, WSU professor of history

Matthew Avery Sutton.
Sutton

White evangelicals believe they see truths that you and I cannot.

While Americans around the country watched an inflamed mob overrun the Capitol on January 6, the evangelical participants in that mob saw something else: a holy war. Insurgents carried signs that read “Jesus Saves,” “In God We Trust,” “Jesus 2020,” and “Jesus Is My Savior, Trump Is My President.” One man marched through the halls of Congress carrying a Christian flag, another a Bible. They chanted, “The blood of Jesus covering this place.”

As law enforcement authorities and media outlets track down and identify these insurrectionists, we are beginning to understand who they are and what they wanted. Amid the QAnon adherents, antisemites, neo-Confederates, and revolutionary cosplayers were the evangelical faithful: those who see themselves as the vanguard of God’s end-times army. Their exultant participation in the riot represented some of the most extreme political action that any group of evangelicals has taken in recent history.

These Christians apparently believe that they had no choice but to try to overthrow the Congress. For months, various evangelicals have claimed in sermons, on social media, and during protests that malicious forces stole the election, conspired to quash Christian liberties, and aimed to clamp down on their freedom to worship and spread the Christian gospel. They felt sure that the final days of history were at hand and that the Capitol was the site of an epochal battle. As one evangelical from Texas told The New York Times, “We are fighting good versus evil, dark versus light.”

Much has been made about the evangelical community’s relationship to Donald Trump.

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The New Republic

 

Where does the GOP go from here? McMorris Rodgers, one of just two House Republicans to rethink objection after Capitol siege, embodies a party in disarray

Just after midday Wednesday, Jan. 6, two-thirds of the House of Representatives’ 211 Republican members gathered in the House chamber planning to object to the legitimacy of November’s election results.

Cornell Clayton.
Clayton

Cornell Clayton, a professor of political science at Washington State University, said the congresswoman clearly knew the move carried political risk.

“There’s no question that she understands it’s going to upset some of her constituency,” Clayton said. “One of the roles of a representative is to represent the views and interests of your constituency, but another one … is to display principled leadership, even when your constituency wants to believe things that are not true.”

“There’s nothing wrong with the change of course,” Clayton said. “When the facts on the ground change, you should change your mind. The real problem was her original calculation, which I think was an opportunistic one, to go ahead and launch a challenge when she knew she was aiding and abetting a president who was engaged in an effort to overturn an American election.”

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The Spokesman-Review

Researchers identify biomarkers in sperm for paternal offspring autism susceptibility

Biomarkers in human sperm have been identified that can indicate a propensity to father children with autism spectrum disorder. These biomarkers are epigenetic, meaning they involve changes to molecular factors that regulate genome activity such as gene expression independent of DNA sequence, and can be passed down to future generations.

Michael Skinner.
Skinner

“We can now potentially use this to assess whether a man is going to pass autism on to his children. It is also a major step toward identifying what factors might promote autism,” said Michael Skinner, Professor of Biological Sciences, Washington State University and Corresponding Author.

“We found out years ago that environmental factors can alter the germline, the sperm or the egg, epigenetics,” said Skinner. “With this tool we could do larger population-based studies to see what kinds of environmental factors may induce these types with epigenetic changes.”

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News Medical
WSU Insider
New Atlas
IFL Science
US News

Opinion: The similarities to the last invasion of the Capitol matter — so do the differences

By Lawrence Hatter, WSU associate professor of history

Lawrence Hatter.
Hatter

Americans are struggling to make sense of the chaotic scenes of armed insurrectionists rampaging through the halls of the Capitol on Wednesday. In such moments of crisis, it is only natural that we look to what we know. For some historians and pundits, that meant the parallels to the attempt by British forces to burn the building on Aug. 24, 1814.

Understanding both the similarities and differences between the two sieges is critical to properly safeguarding this citadel of democracy — and democracy itself — moving forward.

While security in the Capitol undoubtedly will be tightened and reinforced, truly protecting the building and its symbolism in our democracy requires addressing the root causes of the assault. That means holding leaders accountable for encouraging the insurrectionary attempt by deliberately lying to their followers about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. Only buttressing security at the Capitol would represent a failure to recall that while the similarities to historical events are important, so too are the differences. It would leave the building — and our democracy — exposed to further assault.

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The Washington Post

Modeling the Creation of Cratons, Earth’s Secret Keepers

The continents, the solid blocks of land beneath our feet, weren’t always as strong as they’ve come to be. Now, scientists from Monash University in Australia have devised a new mechanism to explain how the roots of the continents—cratons—came to be. Using numerical models to simulate the conditions of Archean era Earth, the researchers’ findings, published in Nature, show that a strong base for the continents emerged from the melting and stretching of the cratonic lithospheric mantle.

Catherine 'Katie' Cooper
Cooper

Cratons form the base of continents and hold the title of the oldest existing portion of the lithosphere. They’re extremely thick and began to form up to 3 billion years ago, in the Archean eon. “They’re the secret keepers of the Earth,” said Catherine Cooper, an associate professor of geophysics in the School of the Environment at Washington State University in Pullman. Cooper was not involved in the new research. By studying cratons, scientists might learn how major components of Earth arose and how plate tectonics began. “If you can understand the role of the secret keepers within [Earth], then we can try to answer some of those questions better.”

As scientists gain a firmer grasp of the origins of cratons, they’re better able to understand processes that might be happening within other planets as well as the processes that helped form our own. “[Cratons] have kind of gone along for the ride, picking up all of Earth’s secrets for all this time,” said Cooper. “They’re such an intriguing scientific story.”

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