Far right 'Pastors for Trump' trashed by evangelical leaders for flirting with Christian nationalism
President Trump stands in a prayer circle with faith leaders during a Evangelicals for Trump campaign event in Miami (Photo by Jim Watson for AFP)

Allies of former President Donald Trump, including Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, are backing a far-right Christian group designed to keep evangelicals in the former president's camp for 2024 — but more mainstream Christian denominations are standing up and fighting back, reported The Guardian on Monday.

"The group, Pastors for Trump, is drawing sharp rebukes from mainstream Christian leaders for being extremist, distorting Christian teachings and endangering American democracy, by fueling the spread of Christian nationalism," reported Peter Stone. "The Tulsa, Oklahoma-based evangelical pastor and businessman Jackson Lahmeyer leads the fledgling Pastors for Trump organization. Lahmeyer told the Guardian it boasts over 7,000 pastors as members and that he will unveil details about its plans on 11 May at the Trump National Doral in Miami, an event Trump will be invited to attend."

"Lahmeyer said the pastors group intends to sponsor a 'freedom tour' with evening church meetings in key swing states this summer, an effort that could help Trump win more backing from this key Republican voting bloc which could prove crucial to his winning the GOP nomination again," said the report. "Lahmeyer described the genesis of Pastors for Trump in dark and apocalyptic rhetoric that has echoes of Trump’s own bombast. 'We’re going down a very evil path in this country,' he said. 'Our economy is being destroyed. It’s China, the deep state and globalists ... China interfered in our 2020 elections,” he added. “This is biblical what’s happening. This is a spiritual battle.’"

Other Christian groups, though, are not on board with the political message of this project.

“This kind of overt embrace of white Christian nationalism continues to pose a growing threat to the witness of the church and the health of our democracy. This pastor and this effort are trying to impose a Christian theocracy. It’s imperative that Christian leaders of all backgrounds including conservative ones speak out about this effort as a threat to our democracy and to the church," said Adam Russell Taylor, who runs the Christian organization Sojourners. Amanda Tyler of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty agreed, saying, “For years, Trump has tried to co-opt religious leaders to serve his campaign, even attempting to change long-standing tax law to allow dark money to flow through houses of worship.”

Flynn in particular has close ties to the Christian nationalism movement, which rejects the secular founding of the country and believes that America is a country for Christians and should be governed by Christian law. Its activists are trying to build a political power machine, including a nationwide group that drafts legislation for state houses.

Even some longtime Republican allies in the evangelical movement are not receptive this time around, the report noted.

"Dr Everett Piper, the ex-president of a Christian university, in November wrote an op-ed entitled 'It’s time for the GOP to say it: Donald Trump is hurting us, not helping us.' Piper wrote that in the 2022 midterms Trump 'hindered rather than helped the much-anticipated ‘red wave’,' said the report. "Likewise, the Iowa based president and CEO of the Family Leader Bob Vander Plaats, has tweeted about Trump that 'It’s time to turn the page. America must move on. Walk off the stage with class.'"

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