By now, many voters have heard that Moms for Liberty, an anti-LGBTQ+ organization that seeks to take over public school boards nationwide, has been designated as an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
Fewer are aware that the “parental rights” slogan championed by Moms for Liberty derives from the Christian homeschooling movement led by Michael Farris, a highly influential evangelical attorney who once wrote that Christians will know they have succeeded when their children “engage wholeheartedly in the battle to take the land.” (I have previously reported on Farris, including the legislative collaboration between Moms for Liberty and a “parental rights” organization tied to Farris.)
Likewise, few are aware that Moms for Liberty collaborates with influential proponents of the so-called “seven mountains” mandate, the belief that Christians have a mandate from God to step outside of their churches and head into their communities to help claim the following “mountains” for God: business, government, family, religion, media, education, and entertainment.
The seven mountains mandate (sometimes called the “seven spheres” or “seven pillars” of cultural influence) was popularized by Lance Wallnau, a leading apostle in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), as I reported here and here. The NAR is an underreported and politically influential worldwide movement and network of neo-charismatic Christian authoritarian zealots. Several prominent NAR leaders were heavily involved with the events of Jan. 6, as I and a handful of others (including religious scholar Matthew Taylor and religious extremism researcher Bruce Wilson) have warned repeatedly.
The NAR was named and organized by the late C. Peter Wagner, who wrote in 2007 that the seven mountains had “become a permanent fixture in my personal teaching on taking dominion,” adding that “our theological bedrock is what has been known as Dominion Theology.” He explained that, “Dominion has to do with control. Dominion has to do with rulership. Dominion has to do with authority and subduing. And it relates to society. In other words, what the values are in Heaven need to be made manifest here on earth. Dominion means being the head and not the tail. Dominion means ruling as kings … So we are kings for dominion.”
In other words, the seven mountains is a strategy used by Christian supremacists in order to achieve societal dominion for God.
Dominion theology (dominionism) and the seven mountains philosophy are not, however, exclusive to the NAR. The seven mountains, for example, has also been promoted by the likes of Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, as well as Rafael Cruz, the father of Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).
Unbeknownst to most of the public, the NAR and other seven mountains proponents have been involved in extensive efforts to take over public school boards: the so-called “education mountain.” Kirk’s organization, for example, targets public schools nationwide, as reported by Documented, while Rafael Cruz has conducted weekly Bible study classes for Patriot Mobile, a Christian cellphone company that targets public school boards in Texas, as reported by NBC News.
Truth and Liberty has also collaborated with Moms for Liberty in Colorado, as reported by public school advocate Rob Rogers. Its website states that the organization seeks to “educate, unify and mobilize believers in Jesus Christ to affect the reformation of nations through the seven mountains of cultural influence.” (Emphasis added.)
Truth and Liberty director Lance Wallnau’s involvement in school board takeovers should concern everyone who cares about public schools because, in addition to his seven mountains philosophy, Wallnau has explicitly stated that America must “destroy public education before it destroys us” (as initially reported by Ellle hardy in her book, Beyond Belief: How Pentecostal Christianity is Taking Over the World).
In March 2022, Wallnau bragged to his followers that “we” (an apparent reference to like-minded religious zealots) had “flooded” Southlake, Texas with “one thousand people” who “took over the school boards… the city council… the mayor’s office.” He added that, “The media doesn’t know it because we never said it was a church initiative. We called it a community initiative.”
The stealth nature of this Christian supremacist assault should concern supporters of public education, as should the alliance that influential seven mountains proponents have forged with Moms for Liberty, which has an estimated “103,000 members across 278 chapters in 47 states,” according to a report earlier this month by the Brookings Institution.
I first noticed this alliance in November 2022, when I found that Moms for Liberty co-founder Tina Descovich had appeared on separate shows hosted by seven mountains promoters Jim Garlow (a prominent NAR leader) and David Barton, a renowned opponent of the separation between church and state. Barton also sits on the board of Truth and Liberty with Wallnau and founded an organization called WallBuilders. (FN1)
Garlow, who once called same-sex marriage a “demonic happening,” has expressly promoted the “seven spheres of influence.” In a video clip posted by Right Wing Watch, he explained to his audience that these “seven spheres” include “the home; the church; civil government; business, which includes technology; arts and entertainment, which includes sports; education, and … media.” He also proclaimed that, “I’m not the one who came up with this. This has been given by God for decades now.”
As for Barton, he and his son, Tim Barton, explicitly promoted the “Seven Mountain Philosophy” during a panel. You can hear him discuss the seven mountains in a video posted by researcher @KiraResistance on X (formerly Twitter).
The older Barton also sits on the board of United in Purpose, a Christian data mining outfit tied to both a massive voter data leak in 2015 and to messaging and financing of the Big Lie in 2020, as I reported last year. United in Purpose was founded by Bill Dallas, a convicted embezzler who has said that United in Purpose seeks to transform culture in “‘what some people call the seven mountains.”
As of 2019, Garlow sat on the board of a related United in Purpose entity called United in Purpose Education.
Starting today, United in Purpose Director Bob McEwen and Christian pollster George Barna (Executive Director of the American Culture and Faith Institute, a division of United in Purpose) will attend a Liberty Pastors “training camp” in Pennsylvania. This event was brought to my attention by Bucks County Beacon reporter Jenny Stephens.
The training camp is presumably in anticipation of the Pennsylvania state supreme court race and school board races this Tuesday, November 7.
The Moms for Liberty summit was sponsored by, among others, the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which is the state affiliate of the Family Research Council (FRC). The FRC’s strategic model includes engaging churches to provide training for congregants to invade local politics, including school boards, via so-called “Culture Impact Teams.”
To give you an idea of what the FRC would like to do to America, it tweeted last year that “abortion is never medically necessary to save the life of the mother.”
“Locally, the PA Family Institute and their legal arm, the Independence Law Center, are responsible for pushing book bans and banning pride flags in the Central Bucks School District,” as reported by journalist Sean Kitchen.
According to PEN America, Moms for Liberty has been “leading the nation’s book ban movement,” as reported by journalist Maurice Cunningham, writing for the Beacon.
During the 2023 summit sponsored by the PA Family Institute (FRC’s affiliate), Moms for Liberty bestowed a “Liberty Sword” upon Morton Blackwell, founder of the Leadership Institute, which employs Moms for Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler and has trained legions of young Republican operatives that “moral outrage is the most powerful motivating force in politics.”
The 2022 Moms for Liberty summit was also sponsored by the Leadership Institute (which contributed $50,000 to the event and has assisted Moms for Liberty with trainings), as well as the Heritage Foundation, as reported by Cunningham.
The summit featured Trump’s former Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, who once said that, “There are not enough philanthropic dollars in America to fund what is currently the need in education … Our desire is to confront the culture in ways that will continue to advance God’s kingdom.” During her tenure in the Trump administration, DeVos allowed religious groups to “provide taxpayer-funded services in private schools,” as reported by the Washington Post.
DeVos “has also been a force behind the spread of charter schools in Michigan, most of which have recorded student test scores in reading and math below the state average,” according to a December 2016 report by the Washington Post.
Likewise, DeVos is a big proponent of “school choice” in the form of vouchers, a strategy for redirecting taxpayer money from public schools to private (often religious) schools, which get to choose which kids they will enroll and which they will turn away, unlike public schools.
In March 2023, Texas Governor Greg Abott gave away the Christofascist endgame by promoting “school choice” only to Christian schools, as reported by the Texas Observer.
DeVos’s late father in law (Richard DeVos) and FRC president (Tony Perkins) are former presidents of the Council for National Policy (CNP), a powerful umbrella and strategy group for the Christian Right and wealthy donors. The CNP was heavily involved in efforts to overturn the 2020 election, as reported by Shadow Network author Anne Nelson. It has also advocated the “voluntary” replacement of public schools with “private schools, church schools, and home schools as the normative American practice.”(Italics in original.)
The CNP is an “umbrella” in the sense that the leaders of many prominent Christian Right organizations belong to it, thus enabling them to coordinate with each other.
Morton Blackwell (founder of the Leadership Institute), Michael Farris (founder of ParentalRights.org, the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, and Patrick Henry College), Charlie Kirk (founder of Turning Point USA), and Edwin Feulner (founder of the Heritage Foundation) are all listed in the CNP’s September 2020 directory, whereas seven mountains proponent Bill Dallas (founder of United in Purpose) is listed in the CNP’s 2014 directory. United in Purpose director Bob McEwen is the CNP’s current executive director,
Moms for Liberty seems to be the CNP’s latest weapon against public (secular) education.
If you want to send a chill down your spine, take a look at what CNP co-founder Gary North (now deceased) had to say on the subject of education, as initially reported by Religion Dispatches:
“We must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.”
Below are some of the school board candidates in Bucks County, Pennsylvania who are supported by Moms for Liberty. The list is almost certainly incomplete because some candidates don’t want voters to know that they are backed by Moms for Liberty, an SPLC-designated extremist group.
In the Pennridge school district, you can get an idea of who aligns with Moms for Liberty based on their responses to a questionnaire published by the Pennsylvania Family Council (the Pennsylvania Family Institute’s partner), as reported by journalist Jenny Stephens, writing for the Beacon.
Voters must, unfortunately, help ferret out these zealots and warn their friends and neighbors about Moms for Liberty and its ties to influential Christian supremacist leaders, including prominent proponents of the “seven mountains” mandate and dominion theology. The public must remain vigilant because the Christian authoritarian zealots organizing against our public schools depend on the complacency of non-extremist voters, while the corporate media has not done enough to expose the extent of the religious fanaticism fueling this assault.
Although this article focuses on the so-called “education mountain,” Christian supremacists have also made alarming progress scaling the “government mountain.” NAR leader Jim Garlow, for example, recently gushed that newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson has had a “profound influence” on his life, while Farris has said that Johnson is the “highest ranking, serious biblically trained person with a Christian worldview government official” in his lifetime. “I’m very excited about him,” he added.
The new House Speaker is also close with seven mountains proponent David Barton. In 2021, Johnson spoke during a Wallbuilders event and said that Barton had exerted a “profound influence” on his life.