An increasing number of Christian leaders have expressed concern and alarm over the disinformation and damage to democracy wreaked by ReAwaken America, a touring group of far rightists, according to a new Guardian report,
The caravan of conspiracist speakers, including rising conspiracy peddler Clay Clark, Trump’s disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and convicted felon Roger Stone, have rallied in Florida, Michigan, and other states, drawing thousands of people from around the country.
The falsehoods peddled at ReAwaken’s rallies — from vaccine skepticism, anti-mask narratives, and Christian nationalism to false claims of widespread election fraud — have drawn cries of outrage from community leaders and prompted Christian leaders to raise concerns about the political and spiritual health of the country.
"This tour features a who’s who of far-right religious extremists, Trump aides, QAnon conspiracy theorists, and other reckless figures," said Sabrina Lamar, Monroe County Legislature President. "At every stop along the way, this nationalist tour has left in its wake a trail of dangerous disinformation that can lead to increased bigotry, hate, and, at its most extreme, violence.”
QAnon Conspiracies, Distorted Christian Teaching
Right-wing doctors amplifying vaccine conspiracies have made guest appearances at ReAwaken’s rallies, including Trump-backed “demon sperm” doctor Stella Immanuel and physician-turned-insurrectionist Simone Gold, leading pandemic and election experts to warn of the “potentially far-reaching impacts” that their misinformation has on “the nation’s public health and its democracy.”
“This ReAwaken tour is peddling dangerous lies about both the election and the pandemic,” said Adam Russell Taylor, the president of Sojourners, a Christian social justice group. “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.”
At ReAwaken’s April 1 - 2 rally in Kaizer, Oregon, which some attendees claimed was “filled with love,” thousands cheered when conservative Pastor Mark Burns said, “There is no such thing as trans kids … only abusive parents.” Burns was running in a Republican congressional primary in South Carolina but lost on Tuesday.
At the same rally, Clark asked his colleague, Aaron Antis, a far-right extremist, what he thought of hospitals. Antis gleefully replied, “I’d say that those are the gas chambers of America … Once they are in the grips of the hospital is like they’ve gone to the gas chambers and they don’t come back.”
The Anti-Defamation League, an organization that exposes extremism, accused Clark of “comparing something that bothers you to the Holocaust.” The organization called Clark’s comments “deeply inaccurate, insulting, and troubling.”
“There is simply no comparison between the systematic murder of over 13 million people, including 6 million Jews, and the efforts to save lives and keep communities safe amidst a raging global pandemic,” the organization said in a statement.
At a different stop on the tour, tomahawk-toting QAnoner Scott McKay boldly claimed that a powerful Jewish mafia is “killing you in hospitals; they’re killing you in the streets; they launched Antifa and BLM.”
The American Jewish Committee slammed the false rhetoric and other allegations leveled against Jews, which it said were chock-full of anti-Semitic codewords and phrases, particularly “globalists,” “cabal,” “elitists,” “elites,” and direct references to Jewish puppet-masters.
A month later, ReAwaken held a two-day gathering in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and famous names on the far-right, including Stones, Flynn, Burns, and even former President Trump’s son Eric Trump, were in attendance. The group put its “Trump political messages mixed with Christian nationalism” on full display at the gathering, the Guardian noted in its report.
“There is a satanic portal above the White House. You can see day and night. It exists. It is real. And it must be closed. And it will be closed by prayer,” Stone rambled during the rally, eliciting cheers and applause from the crowd. He told the rapt crowd that the “portal” appeared after Joe Biden “became president and it will be closed before he leaves.”
Flynn, who is well-known for his ludicrous conspiracies, drew sharp criticism for suggesting that America ought to have only “one religion.".
“If we are going to have one nation under God, which we must, we have to have one religion,” Flynn reportedly said. “One nation under God and one religion under God, right? All of us, working together.”
Flynn went on to proclaim that America was founded on a “set of Judeo-Christian principles” and had a “biblical destiny,” a view that alarmed the Sojourners. “Flynn has a warped understanding of religion and American history,” Taylor said.
In April, Reverend Melinda Teter Dodge penned a hard-hitting op-ed in the Times Of San Diego titled “Right-Wing ‘ReAwaken America’ Tour Brought Irreligious Abomination to San Diego,” documenting Flynn’s leadership role in ReAwaken America.
“Tragically, late last month, proclaimed church leaders and religious zealots descended upon San Diego county, and twisted this scriptural truth for specific political purposes. In speaking to thousands of vulnerable attendees, this group spewed dangerous falsehood after falsehood about Covid-19 and the 2020 election,” Dodge wrote.
“The event at a church in San Marcos was the latest stop on disgraced, retired General Michael Flynn’s ‘ReAwaken America Tour,’ a nationwide series of megachurch engagements featuring a who’s who of far-right religious extremists, Trump aides, QAnon conspiracy theorists, and other reckless figures. At every stop along the way, the Christian nationalist tour has left in its wake a trail of dangerous disinformation that leads to bigotry, hate, and, at its most extreme, violence.”