Faith leaders speak out against ‘toxic’ Christian nationalist conference arriving at Trump’s Miami resort

‘Christians across the country are sick of seeing our faith hijacked and abused’

Alex Woodward
New York
Saturday 13 May 2023 00:55 BST
Trump refuses to acknowledge he lost ‘rigged’ 2020 election in CNN town hall event

A far-right Christian nationalist campaign amplifying conspiracy theories and political violence in a message wrapped in biblical prophecy has arrived at one of Donald Trump’s signature properties.

The ReAwaken America Tour has launched a three-day event at Trump National Doral Miami resort this weekend, featuring far-right personalities and Trump-supporting pastors for a conference that draws from tent-revival preaching and trafficks in far-right conspiracy theories and antidemocratic attacks.

The tour, created by Covid-19 conspiracy theorist Clay Clark and supported by one-time Trump administration official and prominent QAnon figure Michael Flynn, has held more than 20 conferences in more than a dozen states over the last two years. The events often draw from or are hosted by megachurches with large congregations.

In that same time, a coalition of Christian leaders with Faithful America, Christians Against Christian Nationalism and Faith in Public Life Action have warned their congregations about the dangers posed by ReAwaken events and the broader threats to faith communities and democracy from Christian nationalist campaigns.

Tens of thousands of Christians – including leadership with the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – also have signed petitions and statements rejecting Christian nationalist ideologies and the ReAwaken America Tour.

The groups also launched mobile billboards on boats and cars in Miami and around Doral warning against what faith leaders and clergy have characterised as the ReAwaken America Tour’s noxious twist of faith used to attack democracy.

“Christians across the country are sick of seeing our faith hijacked and abused by Christian nationalist leaders for their extremist political agenda of hatred and division,” the Rev Nathan Empsall, executive director of Faithful America, said during a press conference in Florida on 12 May.

Faith leaders and clergy with a coalition of groups opposed to Christian nationalism launched a billboard campaign near Donald Trump’s Doral resort in Miami, which is hosting the ReAwaken America Tour. These images were provided to The Independent by Faithful America. (Faithful America)

The “toxic blend” of baptisms and comparisons of Trump as a Christlike figure, alongside rampant denial of the outcome of the 2020 presidential election and antisemitic QAnon conspiracy mongering further risks inciting political violence, he said.

Among the speakers at the Trump Doral event are political operative Roger Stone and prominent election conspiracy theorists Mike Lindell and Sidney Powell.

Before the event began, far-right personalities Scott McKay and Charlie Ward were struck from the lineup following reports that highlighted their histories of antisemitic statements.

Eric Trump told CNN that the organizers pulled the speakers from the event at his request.

As The Independent previously reported, Mr McKay has previously said that “Hitler was actually fighting the same people we are trying to put down today,” a reference to the antisemitic conspiracy theory that Jewish people control the world’s banks, and has suggested that Jewish people plotted the terrorist attacks on September 11 and the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley, and John F Kennedy.

Mr Ward also has denied the Holocaust and suggested that Jewish people were behind viral outbreaks.

Speakers at a “Pastors for Trump” event at Trump Doral have “laced scripture and prayer into their political speeches, labeling the election as a ‘spiritual war’ and using violent and militaristic language,” according to Amanda Tyler, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee, Christians Against Christian Nationalism.

“They claimed to have heard prophesies that Donald Trump will be elected again and encouraged the crowd that they were put into this moment in time to ensure that that happens at whatever price. This violent rhetoric is incredibly irresponsible and dangerous,” she said on 12 May.

The Rev Jennifer Butler with Faith in Public Life Action warned that Christian nationalism not only is fuelling Mr Trump’s 2024 ambitions but legislation across the country, from threats to abortion rights to policies that restrict LGBT+ people and ballot access.

“We must reclaim our faith and write a new vision for our communities based on love, justice and respect for human dignity,” she added.

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