A well-funded and powerfully connected extremist group is raising alarms about its activities ahead of the 2024 election.
ReAwaken America, a project organized by Oklahoma businessman Clay Clark and funded by Donald Trump ally Patrick Byrne, has blended conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and the 2020 election to promote a Christian nationalist political message at rallies and other events, reported The Guardian.
“Christian nationalism has deep roots in American history and has gained traction at different points,” said Amanda Tyler, the executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. “The ReAwaken America Tour taps into the unholy well of Christian nationalism to sow doubt about the U.S. election system and the safety of COVID-19 vaccines while equating allegiance to Trumpism with allegiance to God.”
“Clay Clark and others who run this tour are using the name of Jesus, Holy Scripture, and worship music to promote a partisan political agenda and personal business interests,” she added.
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Michael Flynn, the Trump-pardoned former national security adviser, and convicted Capitol rioter Dr. Simone Gold have each made multiple appearances at ReAwaken America events, and a recent gathering hosted at the Tennessee church of right-wing pastor Greg Locke drew My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell, Eric Trump, Roger Stone and Kash Patel.
“The religious nature of these events is a pretext for a rally by people who are united by feeling victimized and outraged,” said Samuel Perry, a sociologist at the University of Oklahoma. “This is incredibly corrosive for democracy because you have a group of political leaders and their followers who not only feel victimized by the culture, but they feel like the very political system is against them. That’s how you get populist coup attempts.”
Trump National Doral will host a ReAwaken America gathering in May, which could give the impression that Trump still has strong support from evangelical voters, but mainstream religious leaders are concerned about the convergence of conspiracy theories about Trump's election loss and COVID-19 could have a corrosive effect on democracy.
“White evangelicals are among the least educated of Americans," said David Hollinger, a history professor emeritus at Berkeley. "The Republican Party’s increasing reliance upon them marks an unprecedented stage in American history: for the first time, one of the major political parties displays contempt for learning. Not even the Democratic party of Andrew Jackson was so dependent for its success on anti-intellectual postures.”