They’re back, and critics of Christian nationalism are sounding the alarm once again — this time with a mobile billboard that calls the ReAwaken America Tour a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
The controversial multi-city event hit the road in April 2021, featuring Michael Flynn and Eric Trump and a cast of Christian nationalist speakers who have spread lies about the 2020 election, COVID-19 vaccines and the Jan. 6 insurrection.
The tour made national headlines last November when Flynn, who was briefly Donald Trump’s national security adviser and later pardoned by Trump for a felony committed on Trump’s behalf, declared on stage that America needs only “one religion under God.”
Speaking at John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Flynn said: “So, if we are going to have one nation under God, which we must, we have to have one religion, one nation under God and one religion under God.” Cornerstone Church later issued a public apology for having allowed the tour to appear there.
Tour publicity lists 102 “featured tour speakers” including a who’s who of vaccine deniers and advocates of Trump’s Big Lie about the 2020 presidential election. The group includes far-right celebrities Charlie Kirk, Stella Immanuel, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Mike Lindell, Roger Stone, Sidney Powell, Greg Locke, Jackson Lahmeyer, Alex Jones and Ken Paxton. Fourteen of the featured speakers are identified as pastors.
The tour is sponsored by Charisma News, a prominent Pentecostal magazine. The tour’s organizer is business entrepreneur Clay Clark of Oklahoma. The event’s website includes links to a site to “find jobs that don’t require the COVID-19 vaccines” and other alternative medicine products.
The next stop on the tour is this weekend, July 8-9, in Virginia Beach, Va. The tour website lists Eric Trump, one of Donald Trump’s sons, as a keynoter who will speak on “Why the Trump Family Has Committed Their Time, Treasure and Talents to Save This Great American Republic.”
Eric Trump will speak on “Why the Trump Family Has Committed Their Time, Treasure and Talents to Save This Great American Republic.”
Eric Trump will follow controversial Tennessee pastor Greg Locke, who will speak on “Why Christians Must Hold the Line and Gain Ground Against ‘The Great Reset’ Agenda.” The program also includes a healing service and presentations on why people should not get COVID vaccines. Mike Lindell, the MyPillow CEO and a chief purveyor of the lie that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election, will speak on election integrity.
The two-day event is part revival meeting and part political rally, all rolled together.
And in what is becoming a trend, local clergy are speaking out to condemn the tour before it arrives in their town. That is the case in Virginia Beach, where a group called Faithful America has organized clergy and laity to call attention to the record of lies and Christian nationalism espoused on the tour.
This time, they’re lighting up their message with bright yellow billboards on three sides of a panel truck. One panel says to Eric Trump and Michael Flynn: “Stop twisting our faith to attack democracy.” The back panel quotes Matthew 7:15 which says, “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
“Faithful America’s Christian members wholly reject General Flynn’s hijacking of the gospel to seize and hold power. Like the Christian nationalism it spreads, this tour is a dangerous and immoral political event that promotes misinformation, lies and even outright violence in Jesus’ name,” said Nathan Empsall, executive director of Faithful America.
The Virginia Beach stop includes an extra event specifically for “patriot pastors.” Publicity for that event declares: “Pastor, America needs you now! You are America’s last line of defense.” It calls for “Gideon’s 300” pastors to come forward and learn from Flynn and Trump how to “lead the fight to save our nation.”
Publicity for that event declares: “Pastor, America needs you now! You are America’s last line of defense.”
Nationwide, more than 13,000 Christians have signed a Faithful America petition calling on churches not to host ReAwaken America Tour stops. However, that number pales in comparison to the tens of thousands of people who have attended the previous 12 tour events. This weekend’s event, held at Rock Church in Virginia Beach, is capped at 5,000 tickets.
Those opposing the Virginia event and its misinformation include Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Congregationalists and others.
Amanda Tyler, executive director of Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, previously spoke against the brand of Christian nationalism touted on the tour. She is a founder of a group called Christians Against Christian Nationalism.
What’s being sold here “is not the same as patriotism, which is love of country,” she said. “Nationalism demands allegiance of country over allegiance to Jesus. When patriotism calls for sacrifice of religion, it’s nationalism.”
Christian nationalism is a threat not only to people of color and religious minorities, but also to faith itself because the movement seeks to transform religious symbols, such as the Cross, into secular and political emblems, Tyler said.
Steven Dundas, retired U.S. Navy chaplain and a leader in the Apostolic Catholic Orthodox Church of Norfolk, Va., blasted the tour as part of a dangerous national trend.
“We are actively witnessing the demise of the Establishment Clause and protected liberties of all at the hands of Christian nationalism,” he said. “The leaders of the ReAwaken America Tour have a direct hand in promoting harmful ideologies that have grave, real-world consequences — like the fall of Roe v. Wade. We must vehemently reject all rhetoric that threatens American freedoms now — including the inaccurate interpretation of the gospel fueling Christian nationalism and the ReAwaken America Tour.”
Amanda Hendler-Voss, pastor of First Congregational UCC of Washington D.C, is a person who provided direct support to families whose loved ones were harmed at the Unite the Right event in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017. “I have personal experience with the violence and brutal hatred of Christian nationalism. Simply put, The ReAwaken America Tour is not following in the ways of Jesus or an ideology remotely related to Christianity. This tour’s leaders and headliners have hijacked religion as a cover for hatred, racism and violence, and we must speak up for the true, caring, inclusive love of God.”
A radical court on the move | Analysis by Stan Hastey