Question: "What is antifa? How should a Christian view antifa?"
Answer: Antifa is the name given to a loosely organized set of activists, mostly from the United States, who claim to oppose authoritarianism, racism, and right-leaning politics. The word antifa comes from the German antifaschistisch, meaning “anti-fascist.” Antifa’s version of activism is distinguished mostly by a willingness to (anonymously) engage in intimidation, denial of speech, and violence. Antifa members believe their tactics are mild in comparison to what they perceive as the threat of conservative political views. While being “anti-fascist” is noble, in theory, antifa’s tactics are counterproductive and inherently oppressive. At best, their actions represent politically motivated vigilantism. Scripture does not support antifa’s approach to politics or culture.
The dominant theme in defending antifa is the claim that fascism takes hold due to insufficient resistance. Voting, debate, dialogue, legal action, and other such courses of action are dismissed as inefficient or ineffective. Rather, antifa believes the necessary response to perceived fascism is tangible, physical action, including harassment. It also condones direct acts of violence against people and property. While self-identified antifa members frequently denounce violence publicly, the movement is consistently associated with acts of destruction and personal assault.
Using the same justifications, antifa routinely engages in intimidation tactics. Violence and rioting are, of course, intimidating, but antifa also uses the “de-platforming” of those with whom they disagree. Any words, speakers, writers, or events that fall outside of antifa’s preferred ideology are censored, cancelled, boycotted, or otherwise shut down and denied a voice. The de-platforming approach involves disinviting, protesting, blockading, or literally shouting over unwanted expressions to nullify them—de-platforming literally denies people the ability to express or explain their views.
Another tactic commonly associated with antifa is doxing/doxxing: deliberately revealing personal information about ideological opponents (phone numbers, home addresses, or other details). This is meant to invite further harassment and increase social pressure to conform to antifa’s way of thinking.
From a purely secular perspective, antifa’s tactics are hypocritical and self-defeating. Organizations who otherwise sympathize with antifa’s ideology have denounced the movement for that reason. In practice, antifa merely replaces government fascism with mob fascism. Fascist ideology is a combination of unaccountable leadership, regimented adherence to certain ideas, and forcible suppression of dissent, heavily relying on fear and intimidation. An unofficial, anonymous group who violently harass, drown out, or destroy any person or business with whom they disagree is not resisting fascism—they are crowdsourcing it.
The fact that the antifa movement is effectively anonymous and informal makes responses to it especially difficult. There is no single, unified antifa group. This complicates both private and government attempts to counter antifa violence.
Scripture encourages civic engagement, including voting and other political actions. The Bible supports both civil disobedience and even physical self-defense when necessary. However, the Christian worldview in no way allows for rioting, predatory attacks, intimidation, or any of the other tactics commonly associated with antifa (see John 18:36; Romans 12:18). Beyond the use of immoral tactics, antifa is strongly associated with ideologies difficult to square with a biblical Christian worldview such as critical theory, communism, and anarchism.
While believers should stand against racism and oppression, antifa’s methods and ideology are inherently contradictory to biblical Christianity.