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ReAwaken America reveals us who modified whom

(RNS) — Think about a typical sufficient scene: It’s Sunday morning in a white Pennsylvania suburb. A churchgoer joins his evangelical Christian congregation for hymn singing, Bible studying, a sermon and prayer. It’s unlikely that something shall be mentioned about politics and elections. For a lot of congregants, the service shall be their solely non secular exercise of the week. Others may have learn the Bible or prayed day by day (or as wanted) all through the week.

Now think about the churchgoer’s final prayer was, “Father God, we’re asking you to open the eyes of President Trump’s understanding that … he’ll know tips on how to implement divine intervention, that you’ll encompass him with none of this Deep State trash, none of this RINO trash … within the title of Jesus.”

That line was an precise prayer given from the stage at a latest cease on the ReAwaken America tour, a Christian-inflected touring roadshow that includes MAGA celebrities — “RINOS” are the opposite sort of Republicans — and drawing crowds within the hundreds to venues throughout the nation.

Impressed by conspiracy theories in regards to the COVID-19 virus and the 2020 election, the two-day occasion has hit virtually two dozen cities, with another occasion scheduled in Branson, Missouri, earlier than midterm elections on Nov. 8.

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Although Trump rallies themselves have recently taken on a pseudo-evangelical character, full with emotional music, hand-waving salutes and quasi-worshipful devotion to Trump himself, the ReAwaken occasions price upwards of $250 per ticket and are akin to spiritual revivals. They characteristic clergy, overtly non secular rhetoric and even baptisms.

The clown-show solid in Pennsylvania included amoral Trump-ally Roger Stone, discredited former Nationwide Safety Adviser Michael Flynn, incessantly obnoxious and overtly anti-Catholic Tennessee Pastor Greg Locke, Eric Trump and Trump-boosting pillow entrepreneur Mike Lindell.

The occasions are each weird and well-liked sufficient to pose a query ever related to our nationwide discourse about faith and politics and particularly essential to conservative Christians: Has the white evangelical church’s affiliation with Republican politics been good or dangerous for Christianity?

MAGA merchandise and a U.S. flag embellished with a picture of former President Donald Trump that reads “I’ll Be Again” are displayed on the market throughout the ReAwaken America tour at Cornerstone Church, in Batavia, N.Y., Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. Michael Flynn, a retired three-star normal who served as Trump’s nationwide safety adviser, has drawn collectively election deniers, masks and vaccine opponents, insurrectionists, Proud Boys, and elected officers and leaders in state and native Republican events. Alongside the best way, AP and Frontline documented, Flynn and his corporations have earned lots of of hundreds of {dollars} for his efforts. (AP Photograph/Carolyn Kaster)

Years in the past, an evangelical pastor quipped, “I’ve my individuals for one hour on a Sunday morning. FOX Information has them for the remainder of the week.” ReAwaken America completes the takeover of Christian hearts and minds by co-opting worship for the aim of FOX-ifying it. Evangelical politics are altering the character of religion in methods which may be laborious to drag again from.

Other than a handful of journalists, together with Peter Wehner, writing in The Atlantic, few conservative evangelicals of any place have spoken towards ReAwaken America. The one religion leaders to talk out towards these patently obnoxious perversions of Christianity are religious progressives.

It will be really easy for conservative Christians to easily say, “These rallies are usually not a very good mannequin for evangelical political engagement.” However first rate evangelical pastors, seminary heads and different leaders, struggling to keep up their cultural affect, appear content material to depend on the indecent ones. Christians who as soon as cared about private honor seem glad to have another person doing their soiled work for them.

There are different prospects: These trusted leaders might not be talking out towards bottom-feeder Trump hangers-on as a result of they’re so kneecapped by Trumpist donors, administrators and trustees that they can not deliver themselves to oppose what’s patently flawed. Maybe they’re so ensnared in their very own complicity in creating MAGA energy that they will now not discover their method out. However the impact of their response to ReAwaken America, or lack of 1, permits us solely to imagine that they help the mission.

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It’s a good retort to ask the place I’ve been for the previous half-decade and extra. Silence from many institutional evangelical leaders within the face of shameless misuse of religion by professed Christian Trump disciples has been the norm for years. However ReAwaken America rallies are so grotesquely perverse, destabilizing and riddled with delusions and heresy that silence is now not tenable.

Michael Flynn, a retired three-star general who served as Trump's national security adviser, speaks on stage during the ReAwaken America tour at Cornerstone Church, in Batavia, N.Y., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. Thousands of people gathered to hear his message that the nation is facing an existential threat, and to save it, his supporters must act. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Michael Flynn, a retired three-star normal who served as Trump’s nationwide safety adviser, speaks on stage throughout the ReAwaken America tour at Cornerstone Church, in Batavia, N.Y., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. Hundreds of individuals gathered to listen to his message that the nation is dealing with an existential risk, and to put it aside, his supporters should act. (AP Photograph/Carolyn Kaster)

My concern is that ReAwaken America’s headliners are forming the consciences and affecting the non secular formation of people that as soon as truly did concern God and love this nation. We’ve seen prior to now 20 years how paranoid concepts about world governments and the like have changed serving to neighbors and discipling new believers as Christian actions. Now we’re seeing Christian nationalism, lengthy rejected because the worst tendency promoted by the worst attainable proponents, poison the once-healthy bloodstream of American Christianity.

The worst impact of evangelicals’ silence is that dangerous actors have realized that respectable Christian leaders and organizations will do nothing to cease them. If election lies and the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot didn’t encourage accountable evangelicals to query their allegiances to political masters or to precise non secular nationalism, then MAGA activists don’t have any purpose to assume they will’t proceed to commerce souls for votes with impunity.

(Jacob Lupfer is a political strategist and author in Jacksonville, Florida. The views expressed on this commentary don’t essentially replicate these of Faith Information Service.)

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