Celebrate the Facts!
Christian nationalists are all the media rage and that is no surprise. A mob of white trash overran the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, intent on overthrowing a legitimate government. Such group included white nationalists and Christian pastors, including one who led a prayer in the Capitol rotunda and exorcised a demon influencing Congress. Christian nationalist and racist figures publish beliefs that bulwark such action and support domestic terrorism. Rick Tyler is one of the foremost figures among these delusional and dangerous figures.
Richard Seburn Tyler Jr., more commonly known as Rick Tyler, was born in Florida in 1957 and raised in a lower-middle-class family. After holding various undistinguished jobs, Tyler ventured into the dark world of Christian Nationalism in 1979 and has remained active since as a provocateur and political candidate.
Tyler describes his self-radicalization on his political website, where he developed an ideology that winds Christianity with constitutional fundamentalism and white supremacy. Tyler is a pastor at the Heritage Christian Church in Tennessee and posts videos preaching to his flock on Christian nationalist philosophy.
Tyler’s cosmology of Christian nationalism includes broad historical revisionism. Tyler relies on the Foundation myth, whereby he affirms that the founders of the American republic designed loosely aligned state governments based on Christian principles. Tyler opines about the War of Northern Aggression, more appropriately named the Civil War, and states that the Constitution empowered the Confederate states to secede. Tyler denies that the Civil War was primarily about slavery. He also ignores the war freed about four million humans from torture and bondage.
Tyler yearns for a return to the antebellum South, in which America is a white Christian Caucasian nation. In his view, God supports racial identity as central to the world and that God is the author of ethnicity and racial distinction. The work of sinful men attempts to destroy differences of racial identity, and people who support integration are not Christians. The racial descendants of the founders, white Europeans, are in peril.
Lost in Tyler’s gibberish are the 2.2 million Americans who served in the Union military and the almost 600,000 Americans who died. The overwhelming majority of those people were white, and somehow disagreed enough with slavery to put their lives at peril. The graves of Union dead refute romantic nonsense about the nobility of the South’s cause to maintain other humans in perpetual bondage and forced labor.
Tyler claims progressives stole America from whites, but the theft occurred because of their willful ignorance. Presumably, Tyler includes the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which banned slavery, as one of these alleged perversions of the Christian founders’ intent.
Wrapped in Tyler’s philosophy are Biblical quotations, along with a comprehensive revision of facts. For example, Tyler states the God of his fathers is a God of wrath and a God of mercy and bestowed his blessing on the remaining white supremacists so they can prevail against the juggernaut of evil that surrounds them. With God, Tyler says, all things are possible, including restoring the white master race to its intended spot at the top of the heap.
Tyler states that a powerful, supernatural intelligence exercises enormous influence and controlling power in the affairs of men. Satan himself sits at the apex of a control grid, causing problems in society. In Tyler’s mind, God inspired him to help lead the fight against these conspiratorial Satanic forces, presumably intended to destroy the white race.
Fascinating Tyler tidbits offer a glimpse into his character and ideology:
Tyler ran for the United States Senate seat in Tennessee as an independent candidate in 2014, receiving 5,759 votes, or 0.4 percent of the vote. Tyler ran for the United States House of Representatives seat from Tennessee District 3 in 2016 and 2018. In 2016 Tyler gained 1.9% of the vote with a total of 5,098, and fell back in 2018 as he declined to 4,522 votes, or 1.8%. Tyler also ran for election for Governor of Tennessee in 2018 and failed, with a miserable 981 votes.
In 2019, Tyler rented space at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville campus for an event called ‘White Nationalism: Fact or Fiction.’ Protesters outnumbered attendees more than 10 to one as fewer than ten people attended the event.
Tyler alleges he ran for president of the United States in 2020 and plans to run again in 2024, and maintains these positions as his political platform:
Tyler’s Facebook page incorporates a variety of memes and posts tying him to Christian figures. Tyler also attends Meetup groups, including the Florida Campaign for Liberty Pensacola Meetup Group, a right-wing non-profit organization. In addition, Tyler maintains a Twitter page under the handle @USAWhiteAgain.
Like many of his fellow Christian nationalists, Tyler exhibits antisocial behavior and has had brushes with the law.
According to the Tennessee Department of Revenue, their Special Investigations Section probed the finances at Tyler’s former business, the Whitewater Grill in Ocoee, and discovered that he had concealed taxable sales between 2015 and 2016 totaling over $400,000. In September 2018, a county court evicted Tyler from that property due to nonpayment of rent.
Authorities indicted and arrested Tyler in July 2020, charging him with a count of property theft between $10,000 and $60,000 and one count of tax evasion, and set bond at $30,000. If convicted, Tyler will face a maximum of six years in the state penitentiary and pay fines of up to $10,000 for property theft and up to two years and fined $3,000 for tax evasion.
Escambia County, Florida, police arrested Tyler in 2006 and charged him with illegal disposal of waste over 500 pounds. Tyler pled nolo contendere to the felony charges, meaning he did not accept or deny responsibility for the charges but agreed to accept punishment. In addition, Tyler presented himself as indigent in the proceedings and received 24-months’ probation.
The foundation of Tyler’s viewpoints is fundamentally flawed. First, of course, Tyler’s view of races as divinely created is nonsense. Another failed premise is Tyler’s presumption that virtue is necessarily associated with the Caucasian race. Tyler avoids discussion of the horrors of slavery and genocide of indigenous peoples while anointing himself and other whites as God’s favorite people.
There is no empirical proof for God’s existence, particularly a God that favors the white race. His view of constitutional law is also unsound, and no reputable legal expert supports it. And his romance with the antebellum South denies the cruelty and immorality of enslaving another people and profiting from that labor.
Hell is indeed other people, a phrase coined by Jean-Paul Sartre, and Tyler is an excellent example of this. There is no law against, and not necessarily anything wrong, with postulating a political position. However, publicly advocating white supremacy intended by God wrapped into untruths about history is unethical and arguably delusional. Tyler’s work lays the formal cornerstones for a revolution, and other extremists use his words to reinforce fanatical views.
Perhaps symbolic action figures such as Tyler serve a purpose. However, a failed man such as Rick Tyler advocating white supremacy and representing himself as a leader of the master race further degrades such repellent philosophy. In addition, Tyler’s association with Christianity is another stain on that already tarnished faith tradition.
Michael Donnelly investigates societal concerns with an untribal approach - to limit the discussion to the facts derived from primary sources so the reader can make more informed decisions.