United by a hashtag: Inside the Christian nationalist organizers who mobilized Trump supporters for Jan. 6

United by a hashtag: Inside the Christian nationalist organizers who mobilized Trump supporters for Jan. 6
Donald Trump supporters outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 (Wikimedia Commons).

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Six months before the 2020 election, Tomi Collins, a Christian right organizer from North Dakota, issued a demand on Twitter for the execution of political enemies in the federal government bureaucracy — citing an array of imagined offenses, including the QAnon hoax that progressive elites are harvesting children’s blood.

“#WeThe people demand incitements [sic] for #SpyGate #PizzaGate #UraniumOne #Adrenochrome,” shewrote. “#DeepState will be exposed and hung for treason. Even if we have to do it ourselves! #CoordinationMatters.”

Collins closed her digital call to arms with two more hashtags: #PatriotsMobilize and #1LoudVoice.

Collins serves as executive director of a little-known Christian right outfit called America Restored. Collins has described America Restored, which is organized as a private corporation, as a vehicle for providing strategic consulting and funding to grassroots organizers.

As early as January 2018, less than a year into the Trump administration, Collins was warning followers on Facebook Live about “voter machine fraud,” and foreign election interference, while specifically referencing Dominion Voting Systems. Her description of a plan “to cheat” in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections uncannily anticipated public claims by Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell that have prompted a defamation lawsuit against the two attorneys who litigated President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Collins’ role as a key, if overlooked, organizer in the sprawling network of operatives and influencers highlights the role of Christian nationalism in a movement that remains committed to overturning the 2020 election and vanquishing political opposition. Many of the tenets of a hyper-partisan version of Christianity — entwined with syncretic strains of the QAnon cult — were voiced by the far-right organizers who galvanized defiance of the 2020 election results, including some who attacked the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The mission statement for America Restored, prominently displayed on its website’s landing page, clearly describes the work of the organization led by Collins: “America Restored is ‘We The People’ building a powerful, action-driven infrastructure by organizing and mobilizing existing, effective patriot groups and freedom-loving Americans in all major areas of influence: Education, Family, Faith, Business, Government, Entertainment and Media.”

The mission statement ends with a pledge that inaccurately conflates the organization’s vision of a Christian theocracy with an originalist view of the country: “We The People will see America restored to our founders’ original intent.”

America Restored’s mission statement explicitly references Seven Mountains dominionism, a far-right Christian ideology that emerged in the mid-1970s. It holds that Christians are called on by God to dominate all realms of civil society, including government.

Katherine Stewart, author of the 2020 book The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism, described Seven Mountains dominionism in an email to Raw Story as “the conviction that Christians of a certain hyper-conservative variety are called by God to dominate the main peaks of modern civilization in the United States and, ultimately, the world.”

C. Peter Wagner, one of the ideology’s key proponents, preached that Christians’ responsibility for taking over “whatever molder of culture or subdivision God has placed them in” is a matter of “taking dominion back from Satan,” according to Stewart.

America Restored’s grafting of Seven Mountains dominionism ideology onto a claim of restoring the original republic represents a fundamental misreading of the founders’ intent, Stewart told Raw Story. Stewart cited appeals to reason and deistic or atheistic philosophy as underpinning the thinking of founders such as Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin. But even more important than what the founders thought, she said, is the question of what kind of government they established.

“Was it a government that derives its legitimacy from its appeal to Christian revelation, or from its endorsement by Christian ecclesiastical authorities?” Stewart wrote. “The answer to that is no. America’s founders established the world’s first large-scale modern secular republic.”

Four days after the 2020 election, Collins spoke at a “Stand With Trump Rally” at the North Dakota state capitol in Bismarck. Collins told the crowd she had been contacted by the Trump campaign’s legal team and had attended “meetings with intelligence folks.” Raw Story has not been able to verify these claims independently.

“It’s an amazing day when you get to stand and go from a conspiracy theorist to getting called up by the campaign and attorneys all over the country saying, ‘What about those voting machines? What’s going on in them?’” Collins said. “Hey, let’s go. We’ve got some lawsuits to do.”

Collins went on to describe a plan to “mobilize all 50 states” for rallies that would augment the lawsuits with continuous public pressure to overturn the election results.

“We worked in conjunction with Stop the Steal to get folks at capitols in every single state in the union so we the people could be heard,” Collins laterrecalled in an interview for a far-right podcast, referencing the coalition led by Ali Alexander.

Felisa Blazek, a New Hampshire-based event planner, described a markedly similar effort.

“I had started the 50-state rallies with — actually ahead of Ali,” Blazektold an interviewer the following summer. “And Ali, having all of his width and breadth of followers — although he’s gone into hiding — God used him in that way, right? God used Cain and God used Abel. He sends out someone who has a much bigger presence on social media than myself. God’s calling for me was to be a base cheerleader, not a main player. So, we’re doing these 50-state rallies at all the capitols every Saturday after the steal of the November election.”

It is unclear whether Collins and Blazek worked together on the effort to mobilize Trump supporters for the rallies, and neither woman responded to repeated requests for interviews. But language used by the two women in interviews to promote their projects and on websites for their respective organizations — including the #1LoudVoice hashtag and Seven Mountains dominionism ideology — bear striking similarities.

The #1LoudVoice hashtag was used in Collins’ social media beginning in May 2020 and has also been prominently displayed on the America Restored website. Meanwhile, a tab on the website ThePatriotParty.rocks, which promotes events organized by Blazek, includes the heading “Our Mission: #1LoudVoice.” The mission statement includes a “call to action,” declaring it is “time to rise up in unity, go into the harvest and take our country back.” The statement continues: “We are assembling to organizing and mobilizing [sic] existing Patriots groups [sic] in all major areas of influence by a national digital communication platform and network influencing all seven (7) spheres of influence: Education, Family, Faith, Business, Government, Entertainment, Media.”

The page includes a link to a separate site listing “coalition members,” including Virginia Freedom Keepers and Latinos for Trump, two of the groups that hosted a MAGA Freedom Rally one block from the US Capitol on Jan. 6; and1st Amendment Praetorian, a security group associated with retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn that provided personal security details for speakers at several rallies and assisted attorney Sidney Powell with research on purported election fraud.

And although it is unclear what role, if any, Blazek had in organizing the Dec. 12, 2020 Jericho March that helped build momentum for Jan. 6, a photo gallery is displayed under the “Events” tab on the ThePatriotParty.rocks website, with images of Flynn, InfoWars host Alex Jones, and Oath Keepers founderStewart Rhodes.

Using Seven Mountains dominionism language in an interview to promote a two-day Patriot Party event at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort in Arizona two weeks before the 2020 election, Blazek avoided any mention of Christianity while highlighting defiance of mask mandates during the COVID pandemic.

“The seven spheres of influence to me and what I am trying to rally around are organizing people in education, family, faith, business, government, entertainment and media,” she said. “Underneath all of those are health and medical because health and medical touch each one of those. It doesn’t get its own sphere; it’s that magical bridge.”

Blazek had hoped to secure a special appearance by Flynn and his family, whom shedescribed as “the tip of the spear in our movement,” for the gathering, but had tosettle for his sister, Barbara Redgate. Other guests included Cowboys for Trump, led by Otero County, NM County Commissioner Couy Griffin.

Folded into the Patriot Party, the Q Con Live! gathering organized by Chris Jacobson commandeered a conference room at the Arizona resort.

Blazek described her radicalization during a joint appearance with Jacobson on a QAnon podcast in June 2020. She said the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon provided an initial jolt, but in early 2020 she said a friend prodded her to look into a conspiracy theory associated with the Sovereign Citizen movement that posits that the British crown holds the originals of American birth certificates. That led her to research the Federal Reserve, she said, prompting a weekslong quest to sources that predate Christ, until, Blazek said, she “worked my way back up to the heart of the issue, and landed with the corruption of the Deep State and how everything’s really been a lie.”

While promoting QAnon, Jacobson expressed a more conventional view of religious nationalism in response to a question about the role of religious leaders in the United States’ civic life.

“And we need to get back to being one nation under God, so that He will continue to bless us,” Jacobson said. “Our founding fathers all, whether they were Christian or not, they understood and said that if we don’t have a higher power — in other words, God — that this whole experiment, this United States of America, would fail.”

Blazek, in turn, affirmed a “spiritual, but not religious” outlook, and expressed a QAnon slogan as a central tenet of her faith.

“I really feel like our statement, ‘Where we go one, we go all,’ represents the true God,” she said. “The true and one God — our God.”

During the Q Con Live! conference, Alan Hostetter, an anti-lockdown activist from southern California,told attendees: “We are at war right now…. Nobody wants violence. We are conditioned from the time we are children to always think violence is a horrible, horrible thing, until we go back and reflect on the Revolutionary War. They picked up guns at some point, and said, ‘Enough!’”

Hostetter would later recall in a court filing that when he sat down after his speech, he noticed a man dressed in headgear and horns carrying a sign that read “Q sent me” enter the back of the conference room and stand in the back. It was Jacob Chansley, who would later gain infamy as the “QAnon Shaman” when he stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. Hostetter faces charges of his own, including conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, due to his role in the events at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Griffin wasfound guilty of entering restricted grounds and sentenced to time served.

Griffin told Raw Story that he met Chansley “at the event in Scottsdale,” and that after their arrests the two men were housed in adjacent jail cells.

Reflecting on the awkward commingling of Christianity and QAnon, Griffin told an interviewer last fall: “I spent all my time witnessing to [Chansley] about Christ and about how he needs to put his faith in Jesus because he’s, in my opinion, and by scripture, he’s lost in that account.”

Griffin told Raw Story that he first met Blazek at the Patriot Party event in Scottsdale, and that since then he has come to know her “as a great patriot.”

“Felisa’s a good person; she’s an organizer,” Griffin said. “To make it look like she’s organizing a violent uprising — that’s what the American people are sick of. People are getting tired of the fake news.”

Many of Trump’s supporters involved in the effort to overturn the election — both before and after Nov. 3, 2020 — used language of “good” and “evil,” and even “war,” as a call to action.

“It’s not left and right, it’s not red and blue,”said David Sumrall, an organizer with the pro-Trump group Stop Hate during an interview with Redgate to promote her appearance at the October 2020 event in Scottsdale. “It’s good and evil…. It’s just real deal. And I’ve told people this a hundred times if I’ve said it once: Until we put the cross next to the flag again, this is a holy war we can’t win.”

A week before the election, Stop Hate posted a video of Daniel Goodwyn speaking at a rally in San Francisco on the group’s Instagram page.

“They’re Satanists and pedophiles,”said Goodwyn. “They’re disgusting. And we have God on our side. And Trump’s gonna win. The only thing standing in our way is the corruption, because they’re gonna try to steal the election via fraud.” Goodwyn, who shared a social media post promoting the Proud Boys and President Trump’s instruction to “stand back, stand by,” live-streamed his participation in the storming of the Capitol, and faces charges of violent entry and disorderly conduct, among other offenses.

A month after the election, white supremacist Nick Fuentes addressed Trump supporters at a “Stop the Steal” rally outside the Hyatt Regency hotel in Phoenix.

“This is not simply a political struggle, as I’m sure all of you know,” Fuentes said. “The real struggle is not between Republicans and Democrats. The real struggle is between good and evil. This is a spiritual war. It is a spiritual war between the devil and the children of Jesus Christ.” Video of Fuentes’ speech was amplified on social media by Goodwyn and Stop Hate.

Stewart, the author of the Power Worshipers, said extremism that rejects the idea that people can disagree without dehumanizing their opponents isn’t compatible with democracy.

“A large-scale political movement that believes that any deviation is illegitimate, and that political opponents are literally controlled by demons puts democracy in peril,” she said.

As Jan. 6, 2021 approached, #1LoudVoice became a mobilizing call for Trump supporters to pressure Congress to block the certification of Joe Biden as the next president.

Felisa Blazek hosted a conference call on Dec. 30, 2020. The guest, a social media strategist named Jason Sullivan who had worked with Trump confidant Roger Stone during the 2016 election,urged listeners to “descend on the Capitol.”

During the call, one of the listeners asked Sullivan what group he was with.

“I am not with a group,” Sullivan said. Blazek interjected and Sullivan amended his statement.

“Well, yes,” he said. “Thank you for correcting me. I just joined with #1LoudVoice. Yes, Felisa’s fantastic and I greatly admire her.”

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