Kyle Rittenhouse is a 17 year old teenager who shot to death two people and injured another in Kenosha, Wisconsin during civil unrest. After he was arrested a defense of him began on an Evangelical Christian crowd funding platform called Give Send Go. As controversy grew, some white evangelicals flocked to defend a terrorist. Jacob Wells, a Navy Vet who has forgotten his oath doubled down and defended using the evangelical platform to support Kyle Rittenhouse. Its another mess about evangelicalism.
“I want to say, with great humility, that terrorism is bad! It is bad in its origins and it is bad in its results. It is bad because it is born of hate, and it is bad in its results because it does not construct, it destroys! May all people understand that the path of terrorism does not help. The way of terrorism is fundamentally criminal. I pray for all these victims and for all victims of terrorism in the world. Please, no more terrorism! It is a dead-end street.”
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
1 Peter 3:8 ESV
Kyle Rittenhouse screenshot from YouTube
ABC News timeline of the shooting
Kenosha is a city that most Americans would never be familiar with. Its a city in SE Wisconsin that sits on the border of Wisconsin and Illinois. When I lived in Milwaukee I drove down to Chicago about every two or three months. Its about a 92 mile drive most of it in the I-94 that I know very well. One of the first and last sites on the border as I recall driving past is the Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha. Today Kenosha is known for being a part of the debate over police brutality and the need for police reform. But some news coverage that got my attention is what led to this post being written. Let’s briefly look at a controversial shooting.
Jacob Blake Shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin
In this post I am going to lean upon the New York Times for a description of what happened in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Jaocb Blake is an African-American man who is 29 years old. He is originally from Evanston, Illinois. In July of 2020 a warrant was issued for Jacob’s arrest. He was facing allegations of third-degree sexual assault, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct. On August 23, 2020 the female who filed the complaint called 911 to report that Jacob Blake was at her home. Police showed up to arrest Jacob Blake. The police used a taser on him twice. Jacob said he had a knife which was actually in the vehicle. When going back to his car he was shot seven times in the back. Jacob Blake is paralyzed waist down. The incident led to protests and fit a pattern of abuse of authority which had also happened in Minneapolis, Louisville, Atlanta and other cities. The following day some protests in Kenosha turned violent.
Who is Kyle Rittenhouse?
Kyle Rittenhouse comes from the community of Antioch, Illinois. Kyle dropped out of Lakes Community High School and tried to enter the United States Marine Corps but was turned away and didn’t meet the standards. At Lakes Community High School he was known for being easily offended, moody and an enthusiastic Donald Trump supporter. He had a high view for law enforcement In his social media he pushed a lot of “Blue Lives Matter” memes. Rittenhouse loved guns and liked to dress up in militia gear in his backyard and in the community. In his social media accounts there are countless pictures of him posing with differing guns. His favorite appears to be the AR-15. At the time of the incident in Kenosha he was seventeen. And according to USA Today Kyle Rittenhouse considered himself part of a militia.
Kyle Rittnhouse Shoots Three Individuals Goes Back to Antioch, Illinois
On August 25, 2020 Kyle Rittenhosue left Antioch, Illinois and showed up in Kenosha. Allegedly far right militias were calling people to go to Kenosha on Facebook and other social media. Kyle Rittenhouse heeded the call and grabbed his AR-15. At first he patrolled next to a building at a car dealership where vehicles burned the night before. Other militia members stayed on the roof of a business. In an interview with the conservative Daily Caller Kyle said he was there to protect business and stated he was doing his job. To yet another videographer he claims he was pepper sprayed. Kyle allegedly offered medical assistance to a few people and took bottled water from the Kenosha Police. He leaves the dealership and police prevent him from going back. In response Kyle walks to another car dealership. He had an exchange with Joseph Rosenbaum, 36 of Kenosha earlier. However in this dealer’s parking lot Rittenhouse used his AR-15 and shot Joseph in the head. At 11:46 according to CNN, Kyle Rittenhouse called up a friend on his cell phone and told them he had killed someone. Several people say what had happened next is that two bystanders Anthony Huber 26 of Silver Lake, Wisconsin and Gaige Grosskreutz 26 of West Allis, Wisconsin attempted to disarm Rittenhouse when he fell as he was running away. Grosskreutz was shot in the arm where as Huber was shot fatally by the Kenosha gunman. As the Kenosha Police came by people pointed out that Rittenhouse was shooting people. He walked away and went home to Antioch, Illinois where he was arrested the following day.
The Lincoln Project, the Never Trump group has pointed out that Rittenhouse attended a Trump rally before the incident and is stating that the Kenosha shooter was radicalized by Trump. Its similar to how Muslims go to Afghanistan and are radicalized in fighting coalition troops. You can see the video the Lincoln Project did about Rittenhouse up above.
Evangelical Fundraising Site, GiveSendGo, Raises Funds for Kenosha Shooter and Some White Evangelicals Flock to Support Rittenhouse
This blog is a theology blog and now after discussing the Kenosha shooting this blog is going to look at the evangelical connection to this tragedy. Let’s look at the evangelical fundraising platform called GiveSendGo which has been around since 2013. GiveSendGo is one of the top evangelical crowd funding platforms according to Fundly. The driving force behind the evangelical platform is Jacob Wells who is the CFO of the organization and the co founder with his sister. According to my research Jacob is from Massachusetts. He served in the United States Navy from September 2001 until 2006 and was based in the Norfolk, Virginia area. For those who do not know Norfolk Naval Station is the largest Naval base in the world due to its size and ability to do logistics and other capabilities. He was a supervisor in the Electronic Warfare Division of the USS Harry Truman. The Harry Truman is one of eleven aircraft carriers in the Navy, and is based out of Norfolk. Jacob also is involved in selling real estate both in the Boston area as well as Hampton Roads, Virginia. GiveSendGo started in 2013 and the platform launched in 2014. You can read the story of GiveSendGo from their perspective here.
Jacob attended the University of Massachusetts Lowell in 1997 for engineering and then switched to Boston Baptist College. While in the Navy he attended Saint Leo University from 2003 until 2005. Afterward he attended Tidewater Community College from 2008 until 2010 and finally obtained his B.A. in accounting and business management from Bay State College in 2017. Jacob who describes himself as a professional Christian is also involved in the charismatic movement upon studying his social media. Personalities he has liked on his Facebook page include Hillsong, Bethel, Sean Feucht, Mike Bickle, the International House of Prayer Movement, and many other liked minded personalities. In looking over Jacobs’ social media over the years I learned that he is into a lot of conspiracy theories. Some of them deal with Hillary Clinton, COVID-19, anti-vaccination movement, and like minded movements. In one post in late 2016 he shared some of the information that was dumped by WikiLeaks. For me it begs the question why did a former Naval Supervisor share information from a hostile website of the United States Government? If he has sympathetic views to WikiLeaks than Jacob never should have been in the United States Navy as he lacks the character to serve. All these issues lead up to what I am about to get into next.
When Kyle Rittenhouse was arrested an individual started a fundraiser for his legal defense. Rittenhouse was proclaimed to be a hero. Here is what it says on the GiveSendGo page for Kyle Rittenhouse which was set up by friends and family.
“Kyle Rittenhouse just defended himself from a brutal attack by multiple members of the far-leftist group ANTIFA – the experience was undoubtedly a brutal one, as he was forced to take two lives to defend his own.
Now, Kyle is being unfairly charged with murder 1, by a DA who seems determined only to capitalize on the political angle of the situation. The situation was clearly self-defense, and Kyle and his family will undoubtedly need money to pay for the legal fees.
Let’s give back to someone who bravely tried to defend his community.”
The situation got the attention of the Religion News Services which also wrote about the evangelical crowd funding program supporting the Kenosha shooter. You can read that in, “Christian fundraising site has earned over $250,000 for alleged Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse.” Many white evangelicals have flocked to the defense of Kyle Rittenhouse. Give Send Go became the only crowdfunding platform to support the Kenosha shooter. And in a Tweet which you can see below Jacob Wells doubled down and defended the support for Rittenhouse. Discover credit card removed itself from supporting Give Send Go and Jacob angrily proclaimed that the credit card company was engaging in censorship. Other tech companies also have distanced themselves from the evangelical fundraiser website. Jacob Wells in response said the following. “I remember a time when America was for freedom of speech and for being tolerant of the ideas of others, whether you agreed with those ideas or not,” said Jacob Wells, a veteran of the U.S. Navy and co-founder of GiveSendGo. “Sadly, it seems like many in our society today prefer to trample the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and censor those they disagree with. However, I’ve got news for them – we will not be bullied into abandoning our values.”You can read the entire statement here. You can see the tweets below that were captured for this post. Also below you can see Jacob Wells destroying his Discover credit card in protest.
Finally it should be noted that as of the evening of September 13, 2020 the Give Send Go platform has raised close to $500,000. It is actually taking in foreign denotations it appears from those who live in autocratic states or those like Poland or Hungary which are rejecting democracy as they become illiberal states.
Some Thoughts on the Situation and Why Rittenhouse Should be Regarded as a Terrorist
Several years ago if I remember correctly Boz Tchividjian who is Billy Graham’s grandson tried to do a fundraising campaign to help some evangelicals in the area of sexual abuse. What happened if I remember correctly is that many evangelicals ignored it and didn’t care and the campaign floundered. Now we have a situation in which evangelicals are flocking to defend a terrorist who carried an AR-15 walking down the street in Kenosha. When I was 17 and in late August I was dealing with playing high school football. Learning plays, having double days, weight lifting in the gym and more. It is what a 17 year old does. I have no problem with guns as my Dad hunted, and so did friends. But walking down the street with an AR-15 is out of bounds. As I said Kyle Rittenhouse should be regarded as a terrorist. He in the the same league as Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, Ted Kaczynski, Eric Rudolph and other like minded individuals. A kid who gets caught up in a militia activity is not a hero, instead he is a loser. He is not to be commended instead he is to be dealt with by the law. Rittenhouse deserves absolutely no respect. He’s a wanna be and a failure at life. Those evangelicals who rally around him are individuals who are lost. When I saw this at the Religion News Service I felt sick.
I have rejected evangelicalism. With each post I learn something darker about the movement and it shocks me in many ways. I guess I should not be shocked given how corrupt it is but I continue to be surprised. Jacob Wells is a damn good argument for being an atheist when you consider the hypocrisy he projects. Its also clear that he merges his faith and politics together. Its further proof that what destroyed evangelicalism is Jerry Falwell Sr and the Moral Majority. In addition you couple that with the scandal of the evangelical mind as proposed by Mark Noll and you have the batshittery of individuals like Jacob Wells. After looking at his social media platforms I felt like I had to take a shower. When I look at his timeline it appears as if he became an evangelical when he was at the University of Massachusetts as he transferred to Boston Baptist College. In my view it seems as if some of the most buffoon behavior comes from those who claim to be born again. They throw away careers, companies, education, or medicine for conspiracy theories, worship highs that are no different than watching pornography, missions trips that exploit people and not help them, and cheesy worship services that make high school bands look so much better. Is that what Jesus intended? Being born again and diving into conspiracy theories online? God help us, well not me, as I want nothing to do with a faith like that.
And then there is this other question. Jacob Wells plays up the fact that he is a veteran. He took an oath when he joined the Navy to preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic. If he is serious about that oath than why is he supporting a terrorist? The more I reflect on this I find myself asking the question why was Jacob Wells in the Navy? Here in the Washington, D.C. area I have met former members of the Air Force, Marines, Navy, Army and Coast Guard and a number of them still take their oath seriously. To support a terrorist is profoundly disturbing. He claims to state that he supports the Constitution and yet I have to ask on a side note, does he? In late 2016 on social media when he trumpeted some of the conspiracies about Hillary Clinton as propagated by WikiLeaks did he care that a foreign government was attacking the Constitution? And let me state that while I am not a big Hillary Clinton fan why can’t people base their disagreements on facts? Why the turn to loon conspiracy theories? But did Jacob Wells care about the attack on our way of life from a foreign power? Obviously not. And the sad part is that the Navy is known for its training on cyber warfare and information warfare. And individuals like Jacob Wells is the best it can do? God help us…we’re fucked.
The mixing of politics and faith is tragic. Again when this blog writes about issues in Calvinism I appreciate and respect that they do not have those issues at all. But on the Arminian side of the house stories like this are profoundly sad. Sometimes it seems as if each of those posts exposes another cluster fuck. It leaves me shaking my head. This post has me doing that at several levels. Evangelicals rushing to embrace a terrorist. A crowd funding platform being used in a unethical and questionable way. The issue of Jacob Wells and the absence of common sense and decency. And the conspiracy theories are the cherry on top. Jacob don’t preach to me about faith. You have no right to try and reach people like me. And when you scream persecution as you will in other situations it again shows how lost you are. Jacob Wells makes evangelicalism profoundly ugly.