Kyle Rittenhouse as Christian Right Hero?

Kyle Rittenhouse as a new Christian right hero - images of a cross and an assault rifle

Two men get killed. Some members of the Christian right are calling the man who killed them a hero and a patriot sent by God. Something isn’t adding up here.

On August 25, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse grabbed his AR-15 style rifle and left his home in Antioch, IL, to head over to Kenosha, WI. He was responding to a call from a group that had asked the County Sheriff to deputize them to aid in the response to protests about the police shooting of Jacob Blake. The Sheriff refused to do so. Later, Rittenhouse used that semi-automatic weapon, which he was too young to carry, to kill Anthony Huber and Joseph “JoJo” Rosenbaum (CNN).

Rittenhouse has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide, reckless homicide, attempted intentional homicide, recklessly endangering safety, and possession of a dangerous weapon while under the age of 18. His lawyer has argued publicly that the shootings were in self-defense.

A whole lot of privilege

The video that I’ve seen gives an incomplete picture of Rittenhouse’s interaction with the two men he killed. One thing is very clear, though. As he walked towards the police presence gathering up the street, he had his AR-15 style rifle strapped around his chest and put his hands in the air. People had fled when the gunshots were heard, so there was no one else in the street. Just him, hands up, assault weapon across his body. People can be heard on the recording shooting that he was the shooter. Armoured vehicles can clearly be seen driving towards him and then proceeding past him to where the victims’ bodies lay. Rittenhouse leaves the scene of the shooting unimpeded.

Contrast that to two days earlier, when police shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back. If that’s not white privilege, I don’t know what is.

Whether it was self-defense or not remains to be seen in a court of law, but regardless, it was not a good situation, and it resulted in two lives lost. There’s no winner in this situation. Yet that’s not how a certain segment of the Christian right sees it.

Crowdfunding for Rittenhouse’s defense

Over $450,000 has been raised for Rittenhouse’s defense on the Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo, according to a CBC article dated September 9. There had been a GoFundMe page, but the site took it down. GiveSendGo defended its choice to continue hosting the fundraiser, despite a petition organized by Faithful America asking them to stop, as well as the Discover credit card company blocking payments to the campaign. Apparently, Facebook has also censored links to the GiveSendGo campaign, although I didn’t come across a statement from Facebook confirming this.

The GiveSendGo campaign page says that Rittenhouse was the target of a “brutal attack by multiple members of the far-leftist group ANTIFA.”

An August 28 update note adds that “Kyle now faces the wrath of those who would see us stripped of our God-given rights and reduced to servitude.” Of course, the unalienable rights that the Constitution names are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, so when we’re talking about the taking of lives, something’s not quite right.

The comments

Here’s a selection of comments left on the GiveSendGo page.

God Bless this young American Hero

I watched the videos. God is on your side. Thanks for being a patriot and defending the American way of life from those who want to destroy it.

You are a child,you are braver than most men I know. Let God protect you. You and your family are in our prayers. You kid have lit the fuse Patriots have needed for over 2 years. Bless you kid. Bless you.

Someone finally stood up against those bullies and god sent you, I know it’s not much because I’m struggling but you’re struggling even more and I’m looking out for a fellow america, we need more of you and us true Americans appreciate what you have done, god bless you son, we are with you! Screw BLM!

The competence and courage of Kyle Rittenhouse will serve as an inspiration to many during conflicts to come. Deuteronomy 31:6 – Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.

WAY TO GO KYLE!!! Standing up for your rights, being prepared and taking a stand in dark times. False accusation and slander I command them to come down now in Jesus’ name and I pray that ministering spirits guide you down a safe path free from demonic influence. Amen #justiceforkyle

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ find you and comfort you. I watched His Angel’s guide your hand in conflict. He has not abandoned you now! Good things will come to you! Praying from Florida!

God bless you, protector of family and community, soldier of Christ.

God give you the increase, provision and protection from the enemy. Build a high hedge of protection around you and your family. In Jesus’ name AMEN.

We are praying for you! You are a part of the good fighting evil – so remember that God knows this and is with you!

The Holy Ghost was with you Kyle. God bless you and God help heal you.

Kyle seems to be as good of a kid as you can meet nowadays. He should be free and become a police officer one day. We need more Knight of Christ protecting the innocent.

Why is religion involved?

I get that some people are fervid believers in the right to carry a gun and kill people with it in self-defense. What baffles me is when people try linking all of that to religion.

Do these people think God was kidding when he told Moses “thou shalt not kill”? Are they somehow seeing “thou shalt carry and be prepared to shoot an AR-15” instead? Did Jesus tell his disciples that vigilantism to try to protect property was of greater value than the loss of human lives? I don’t think so.

Granted, as an atheist, I don’t know the intricacies of the Bible and the Christian faith, but I know the gist enough to be fairly sure that what these people are talking about is not what the Bible is talking about.

So, why have these particular folks decided that God is on Team Kyle? It seems like a certain segment of the population, when they’re looking for justification for judging others, will try to drag God into it to help them feel self-righteous or whatever else their aim might be. It gives the impression that they’re trying to put words in God’s mouth, which is a rather strange direction for any word-putting to be going in.

Humanity can do better

The comments on the GiveSendGo were also peppered with conspiracy theory talk about the deep state, communism, anarchists, and the media. There was also quite a bit of racism, with a little bit of antisemitism thrown in for good measure, plus mentions of MAGA and Trump, including the expectation that Trump will pardon Rittenhouse.

All of this seems like a whole lot of fear and a big lack of empathy and compassion. And maybe that’s a much better focus for these people’s religious devotion than the heroification of a 17-year-old kid who killed two guys with a semi-automatic weapon he was too young to carry.

37 thoughts on “Kyle Rittenhouse as Christian Right Hero?”

    1. I don’t *exactly* want to like this post. But, uh, we haven’t even started tackling climate change. We’re still trying to fight tor stasis, not anywhere near “and what about repairing the prior damage.” So, uh, we certainly don’t look *great* right now…

        1. You made me curious enough to look. And, based on these poll results from our nonpartisan Pew Research Center, I’m not sure what to feel now. On the one hand, a majority of Americans do see climate change as a priority – and something the government should tackle! Yay!? But, on the other hand, there is still no viable political will to hold leaders accountable? So, we really are a defeated people, or districts really are just so gerrymandered that we have a tyranny of the minority? Uh, okay. Then what? I started with the article below, and now I’m on to a depressing series of articles about how *much* our current government really does only reflect the will of under 40% of America. So, uh, that’s…well, that’s a thing. I’m not sure which of “we’re a tyranny of the minority” vs. “a majority of Americans don’t give a shit” is actually worse…

          1. The scary stat in there that caught my eye was that only 14% of conservative Republicans believe that human activity contributes a great deal to climate change. Then you’ve got the great pumpkin saying wildfires have nothing to do with climate change. It’s all just totally insane.

  1. This makes me see red. It also doesn’t surprise me. It is like they left their brains at the doors of the church.
    I am not sure what happened to the Evangelicals but they must have drank the kool aid.
    Kyle is in no way a Christian hero.
    It is no wonder why people on the outside do not want anything to do with Church/Religion!
    I am glad I left!
    To be honest, I am dumbfounded and totally confused by all of these things in America.

      1. I think religion tends to remove people from reality. I am barely hanging on as a liberal Christian. I am not sure my reasoning for believing is as valid as it used to be. Oh well. Even the “one day at a time” philosophy seems to hold its roots in Christianity. I can’t seem to escape it.

          1. Right. So, doesn’t that make you think about what these people really believe deep down? It does, me. It makes me think, like a lot of former Christians thought, that they don’t really believe what they think or say they do. It’s interesting, but not at all surprising to me. I personally have a belief that most so called believers are either not self-aware enough to be honest with themselves, or if they still believe (and are being honest with themselves), they are likely living a lie.

            1. I would guess that on some level they recognize that all this far-right pro-gun stuff doesn’t fit with Christianity, but cognitive dissonance is uncomfortable, and warped ideas result.

  2. So to be real, I don’t get why he’s viewed as a hero of the Christian right. As you said, there is the commandment about: “Thou shall not kill.” Not: “Thou shall carry a dangerous weapon.” Even though you are atheist, there’s no nuance you’re missing, in my humble opinion.

  3. So, I was sorting some random bookmarks today, because procrastination, and I came across an article I booked marked about “Americans are a defeated people. What will it take to make us fight back for our country?” It was dated 2018. Since that article’s suggestion of some life-threatening disaster with high numbers of casualties has already come and gone a few times with covid, wildfires, multiple hurricanes and heaps upon heaps of proof our government is sacrificing us…I just don’t know anymore. What *will* it take for Americans to fight back?

  4. I know we aren’t a perfect country–we definitely have our share of shameful events–but man, I hope they keep those borders closed for a long, long time.

    I try not to follow it all too closely because I honestly feel that I lose brain cells every time I do and spend most of my time screaming at the television. What’s happening south of the border is absolutely terrifying at the moment. I live at a border town but I won’t be going back into the USA for a really long time.

  5. How is it possible to encourage suffering? They are not caring for anybody by not showing empathy, ‘encouraging’ the young boy and they’re are not looking out for society. –> in the comments in mean, that you showed. It’s crazy what people can ‘find’ in ‘religion’.

  6. Excellent piece! The first thing wrong with that whole incident was the premise for it in the first place: Defense of property. To my knowledge no shop owners had invited this teenager or any other militia there to defend their businesses. The sheriff had already told them he would not deputize them. But they went there anyway. Also, the idea that it is self defense goes right out the window when he did not HAVE to be involved, coming all the way from another state, no less! Self defense is when you have the right to be somewhere, doing something allowable by law, and when you are threatened, you act to defend your person from harm. Examples would be sitting at home, walking to a park-or protesting IN a park, the brutality of some of our police. This misguided teen (and btw, where are his parents?), had no business with a AR-15, no business breaking that curfew the cops mentioned, and no business walking up with a gun to a crowd of legitimately upset people in a town and state that were not his.
    As for the references to Jesus and the Scriptures, they can cherry pick any verse they like. But Jesus called his disciples OFF in the Garden of Gethsemane, after Peter whacked the ear off a Roman! He also previously said to “turn the other cheek” and told them if they were not accepted in a place they began to preach, to shake the dust off their feet when they left, NOT “go kill them”.

  7. I am Christian and came to the faith in September 2017, one of the ten commandments that God teaches us to live by is ‘thou shall not murder.’ This is regardless of any circumstance, to even have hatred towards another person is considered murder according to The Holy Bible. When something doesn’t seem to not add up in Christianity, The Bible is the best place to learn the truth of God’s teachings, not people, regardless of whether they are Christian or not.

  8. It is sad. It was unnecessary. This kid went there LOOKING for trouble, and likely knowing he would find it. He illegally took his weapon there to use it, and sure enough he did.

    He is not a hero in my opinion. Seems more like a wanna be “deputized” person who knew he could use his privilege to do what he would, and likely get away with it.

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