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Christian Leaders ‘Horrified’ About the Ongoing ReAwaken America Tour

These events are replete with MAGA superstars, conspiracy theorists, January 6 insurrection organizers and violence-laden rhetoric of an “America First” white Christian nationalism.

National and state Christian leaders spoke out against the white supremacist ideology espoused during two recent Christian nationalist rallies in South Florida.

Christians Against Christian Nationalism and Faithful America organized a livestreamed event as a counter perspective to the May 11 “Pastors for Trump” reception and the May 12 ReAwaken America Tour rally, both held at the Trump Doral resort in Miami.

“We are here today as Christians who are horrified to see the faith we hold dear being used to spread lies, violence and authoritarian theocracy,” said Amanda Tyler, executive director of Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty and lead organizer of Christians Against Christian Nationalism.

Tyler was joined at All Angels Episcopal Church in Miami Springs by Nathan Empsall of Faithful America, Russell Meyer of the Florida Council of Churches, Jennifer Butler of Faith in Public Life Action, James Golden of Pastors for Florida Children and Charles Toy of The Christian Left.

“We are here to say to the millions of Christians across this country who are likewise horrified and angry about Christian nationalism: You are not alone,” Tyler said.

Both days’ events were replete with MAGA superstars, conspiracy theorists, January 6 insurrection organizers and violence-laden rhetoric of an “America First” Christianity. Tyler said she got a full dose of that toxicity attending the “Pastors for Trump” rally.

“Last night, I witnessed firsthand how this ideology is being used to foment unrest and spread lies and conspiracy theories about COVID vaccines and the security of our election system,” she said. “Speakers … placed Scripture and prayer into their political speeches, labeling the election as a ‘spiritual war’ and using violent and militaristic language. They claim to have heard prophecies that Donald Trump will be elected again and encouraged the crowd that they were put into this moment in time to ensure that happens again — at whatever price. This violent rhetoric is irresponsible and dangerous.”

Empsall said Christian nationalism, as perpetuated by the ReAwaken America Tour, may be the greatest threat to democracy and the church in America.

“We are tired of seeing our faith twisted, abused and hijacked for a hateful, authoritarian political agenda and abused and hijacked by Christian nationalist leaders like Michael Flynn, Eric Trump and their far-right pastor allies,” he said.

Faithful America organizes counter-protests in cities where the ReAwaken America Tour events occur. Their campaigns include training sessions and rallies with local pastors and churches and mobile billboard messaging such as: “Jesus Warned Us About ReAwaken America at Trump Doral: ‘Beware of False Prophets.’”

More Christians must speak up against Christian nationalism, said Empsall, an Episcopal priest.

“This pro-Trump tour is one of the most egregious examples of Christian nationalism we have seen since the Jan. 6 insurrection. Some have called it QAnon 2.0 or a Who’s Who of the new Christian right. I like to call it ‘Jan. 6 goes to church.’ Each ReAwaken America tour is a toxic, extremist, heretical and harmful blend of baptisms, praise music, election denial and QAnon misinformation — things that do not belong together — all presented to an audience of thousands in Jesus’ hijacked name.”

Even worse, he said, is that the tour risks inciting violence with its persistent holy war rhetoric “and telling audience members they’re all on ‘Team Jesus’ while their opponents are on ‘Team Satan.’”

Meyer labeled Christian nationalism an idolatrous movement.

“What the Reawaken America Tour attempts to do is to make Christianity about America first. That means it’s not the church of Jesus Christ and they are taking the Lord’s name in vain,” he said. “We have to be very clear that all attempts to use religion for the sake of violence … are not only false religion, but they’re also false politics. We’re at an important point in human history.”

Butler compared Christian nationalists to a wolf in sheep’s clothing with white supremacists using Christianity to usurp religious freedom.

“As a Christian and as a pastor, I must denounce this twisting of my faith, this leading of people astray into a spiritual crisis and a spiritual disease that harms families and disrupts and breaks communities,” said Butler, also author of Who Stole My Bible?: Reclaiming Scripture as a Handbook for Resisting Tyranny.

White Christian nationalism has inspired the current onslaught of legislation against abortion, racial, LGBTQ and immigrant justice and the teaching of history, she added.

“This, my friends, is the beginning of fascism, and we must oppose it. … It is not Christian. It does not belong in a democracy. It is the weaponizing of our faith.”

Christian nationalism must be opposed because it undermines a diverse, equitable and inclusive society, Golden said.

The ideology is “nothing more than a secularistic abomination of a nonsensical idea which is devoid of any Christian theological legitimacy” and stands opposed to “the true constitutional, democratic principle upon which this nation was founded: the free exercise of religion and the non-establishment of any religion by the government.”

The tour promotes a version of faith diametrically opposed to the vision of Matthew 25, in which Jesus judges his followers by their treatment of “the least of these,” Toy said. Right-wing policy and ideology throws the least of these under the bus every chance they get and they rally everyone against the most vulnerable while they funnel power and money to the rich. That’s what this is.”

Efforts to oppose Christian nationalism are making a difference as more Americans learn about the ideology and see there are ways to oppose it, Tyler said in an interview with Baptist News Global. “Our main feedback is relief and gratitude they are not alone in being horrified their faith has been used to prop up lies and conspiracy theories.”

Christians Against Christian Nationalism offers webinars, podcasts, discussion guides and other resources enabling individuals and churches to take action against the ideological movement. Earlier this year it branched into TikTok and Instagram with viral posts connecting with tens of thousands of young people.

“Our appeal cuts across all age groups and demographics because our message is one that unites people across their lines of difference,” Tyler said.

This article was originally published at Baptist Global News, a reader-supported, independent news organization providing original and curated news, opinion and analysis about matters of faith. You can sign up for their newsletter here. Republished with permission.

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Jeff Brumley

Jeff Brumley is Senior News Writer for Baptist News Global. A veteran newspaper reporter, he lives in Jacksonville, Fla., with his dog, Nosey.