These Christian activists are pushing back against Roger Stone and Michael Flynn’s 'toxic' MAGA fundamentalism
The ReAwaken America rallies being organized by far-right MAGA Republicans and Christian nationalists have been a cesspool of lies, distortions and conspiracy theories, from promoting the Big Lie and falsely claiming that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump to claiming that COVID-19 vaccines are dangerous. The events have featured such Trump loyalists as GOP operative Roger Stone and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn as well as far-right evangelical pastors like Greg Locke and Mark Burns.
But not all Christians like the bogus messages being promoted at ReAwaken America events, and they’re speaking out.
Journalist Peter Stone, in an article published by The Guardian on June 14, explains, “The falsehoods pushed at ReAwaken gatherings have prompted some Christian leaders to warn that America’s political and spiritual health is threatened by a toxic mix of Christian nationalism, lies about Trump’s loss to Joe Biden, and ahistorical views of the nation’s founding principle of the separation of church and state. Several well-known Christian leaders, including the president of the Christian social justice group Sojourners and the executive director of a major Baptist group, have called on American churches to speak out against the messages promoted at ReAwaken America rallies that have been held in Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, California, South Carolina and other states.”
Although Trump is quite popular among far-right White evangelicals and Christian nationalists, he has plenty of scathing critics within Christianity — from Catholics to Mainline Protestants (Episcopalians, Lutherans, Presbyterians, the African Methodist Episcopal Church).
Sojourners President Adam Russell Taylor told The Guardian, “This ReAwaken tour is peddling dangerous lies about both the election and the pandemic. Jesus taught us that the truth will set us free, and these lies hold people captive to these dangerous falsehoods. They also exacerbate the toxic polarization we’re seeing in both the church and the wider society.”
Taylor is highly critical of Flynn, telling The Guardian that Trump’s former national security adviser “has a warped understanding of religion and American history.”
Flynn’s dangerously authoritarian leanings were evident in December 2020, when he called for then-President Trump to declare martial law in order to remain in the White House and stop Joe Biden from becoming president. Flynn has also said that Christianity should be the only religion allowed in the United States.
At a ReAwaken America event in Texas in November 2021, Flynn told the crowd, “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, right? All of us, working together.”
Amanda Tyler, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, is equally critical of the ReAwaken Americans events.
Some Baptists identify with White Christian nationalism, while others don’t. The late Rev. Jerry Falwell, Sr., founder of Liberty University and the Moral Majority, was a Baptist and one of the most prominent Christian Right figures of the 1980s and 1990s. But the Rev. Al Sharpton, who hosts “Politics Nation” on MSNBC, is a Baptist minister, a liberal activist and a scathing critic of the MAGA movement.
Tyler told the Guardian, “Christian nationalism is a threat to the church because those peddling it wrap this ideology in biblical language and imagery. Christian nationalism is wrong as a matter of Christian ethics. The Bible is not confined to a nation, much less a party or list of policy positions…. The ReAwaken America tour is a gross distortion of Christianity, and it’s up to Christian leaders in the areas the tour visits to speak out against this ideology.”
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