Trump Supporter Arrested in Capitol Siege Said He Asked God for Permission and ‘He Didn’t Say No’
When Doug Sweet was arrested and charged with unlawful entry as part of his alleged role in the Capitol siege last Wednesday, he said was directly inspired to riot by President Donald Trump, Friendly Atheist’s Hemant Mehta reports. Sweet, a resident of Virginia, is a fervent believer in right-wing conspiracy theories, and he told The Wall Street Journal he put out a call for Trump’s “digital soldiers” to show up.
“He said, ‘Hey I need my digital soldiers to show up on January 6,’ Mr. Sweet says of the president,” per the WSJ. “And we all did.”
Mehta noted that didn’t exactly make Sweet sound like a candidate for the Antifa.
But he also describes a disturbing passage from the WSJ story that made it quite evident that the man’s faith played a role in the siege, leading Sweet to “ask God for guidance and it went exactly as you’d expect,” describing the situation thusly:
“He says he hesitated. He says he felt the need to go inside to share his views with Congress but wanted to consult God first,” Mehta notes, per the WSJ. “He prayed aloud” ‘Lord, is this the right thing to do? Is this what I need to do?’ He says he felt God’s hand on his back, pushing him forward.”
“I checked with the Lord,” he says. I checked with Him three times. I never heard a ‘No.'”
This is a dangerous gumbo of right-wing politics and religious delusion. It led Mehta to add:
“No one in this man’s life ever taught him God doesn’t speak to people. God doesn’t offer advice. God doesn’t respond because God doesn’t exist. Those are just voices in your head. You need a better foundation for your ethics.”
Having lived my life as an atheist who received a religious education as a young girl, I already know what this level of brainwashing can do to someone who doesn’t question what they are being told. I was full of a million questions, but some people I knew accepted things blindly. That seems to be the case for Sweet.
“Instead, they told him consulting with God was a perfectly normal thing to do, and he eventually used that as justification to join in the Capitol siege,” Mehta writes. “This attempted coup could not have happened without the active participation of Christian nationalists who have been brainwashed into thinking they’re victims of persecution by pastors who will never admit their role in this tragedy.”
This kind of unquestioning devotion may be one of religion’s deadliest side-effects because those involved have no doubt they are doing the right thing. And they will stop at nothing to do it.