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  • Writer's pictureJeffrey Zalles

CHRISTIAN NATIONALISTS ARE joining forces to recruit swing-state, MAGA-leaning churches to help elect Donald Trump in 2024.

Updated: Feb 14

It’s a brazen effort to transform religious congregations — which are technically supposed to keep electoral politics out of the pulpit — into a campaign powerhouse for the former president.



During a weekend broadcast of his podcast, the influential Christian nationalist “apostle” Lance Wallnau unveiled a new collaboration with Turning Point USA that aims to get “civically enlightened” pastors to turn out their faithful for the “America First agenda.” The effort will be primarily focused, Wallnau said, in the purple states of Arizona, Wisconsin, and Georgia.


For weeks, Wallnau has been dropping hints about a swing-state effort to turn out coreligionists for Trump. And during the Saturday broadcast of the Lance Wallnau Show, he announced that he’s joined forces with Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, a powerful conservative group that has recently embraced Christian nationalism, including by promoting a 50-state prayer tour at the nation’s state houses.


Turning Point USA began as a youth-focused group, touting small government and economic conservatism on college campuses. In recent years, however, it has shifted into mobilizing far-right religious conservatives, holding “pastors summits” where Kirk has touted “inerrancy of scripture” and called on “courageous” congregations to stand for “righteousness, regardless of the cost.” (Kirk’s personal brand of Christian nationalism is not inclusive, however. He spent much of the recent holiday weekend attempting to trash the legacy of a storied Christian reverend, Martin Luther King Jr.)


In his podcast, Wallnau described that he’s recently been counseling Kirk. “I call him up regularly and cheer him on, because he’s attacked as the face of Christian nationalism.” Those conversations precipitated the current partnership. “We’re going to join Charlie, and Charlie’s joining with us,” Wallnau said. “We had a meeting and decided that Arizona, Wisconsin, and Georgia are the critical swing states.”


The partnership — which Wallnau is referring to as a “Courage Tour” — seeks to spur conservative churches directly into the political arena. This is risky business: Under a 1954 law known as the Johnson Amendment, churches and other nonprofits are banned from “engaging in any political campaign activity.”


The law is rarely enforced, and has been skirted by churches of all political orientations — whether by pastors who make their personal endorsements public or by congregations organizing turnout-boosting efforts like “souls to the polls.”


But Trump has made clear he won’t punish churches that violate the Johnson Amendment in 2024, even vowing on a Christian nationalist broadcast last May that he’ll abolish the prohibition if reelected. “We never enforced it,” he said. “But I’ll finish it this time.”

Both Wallnau and Kirk have been calling on pastors to throw caution to the wind, with Kirk explicitly offering resources to pastors who seek to “challenge the IRS.” On his podcast, Wallnau insisted, “We’ve got to see the courageous churches come together. We’re encouraging the churches to stand with us.”


According to Wallnau, TPUSA has already recruited 2,500 churches “to stand with an America First Agenda.” It is not clear from his description if all of those congregations are in swing states. TPUSA did not respond to Rolling Stone’s requests to elaborate on Wallnau’s remarks, and Wallnau didn’t respond to an interview request.


During his podcast, Wallnau insisted that the Courage Tour will also be working with right-wing women’s groups including Moms for America — which touts “truth, family, freedom and the Constitution” — and Concerned Women for America, a group dedicated to “Biblical values and Constitutional principles.” Wallnau insisted: “We’re creating a broad net.”

Kimberly Fletcher is the president of Moms for America. In a phone interview with Rolling Stone, she confirms: “We are working with Lance Wallnau on the Courage Tour.” Fletcher says that she could only speak to “broad strokes” because the effort is in its early stages, but elaborated that churches are a central focus for 2024. “Everybody keeps talking about ‘the suburban women vote.’ Those suburban women,” Fletcher says, “are moms who go to church.”


Concerned Women for America did not respond to Rolling Stone’s request for comment. Wallnau also named Moms for Liberty as a partner, but a spokesperson for that controversial group denied that it is involved.


Wallnau is a leading figure in the New Apostolic Reformation, a growing movement of Charismatic Christians who believe in modern-day prophecy and other supernatural “gifts of the spirit.” This loosely organized End Times movement differs from other evangelicals in its obsession with Earthly power — advocating that Christians need to assert worldly dominance to hasten the second coming of Christ.


Wallnau, who has more than 1 million followers on Facebook, promotes a roadmap for a Christian takeover of society called the Seven Mountains Mandate, which calls for believers to conquer seven “mountains” of societal influence, including government, education, and entertainment. Wallnau is also a staunch Trump supporter, who was in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, insisting, recently, that he was there “seeking God for divine intervention” to reinstall Trump in the White House.


Wallnau used part of his podcast to take issue with the label “Christian nationalist,” insisting it was imposed by “Maoists” who “want to isolate the Christian nationalists from everyone else.” Christian nationalism is an ideology that insists that Christians hold a place of privilege in the stewardship of America, which adherents assert, ahistorically, was founded as a Christian nation. Christian nationalists often literally demonize their opponents, seeing them as under the sway of satanic forces. The movement poses a danger to democracy because it “sees no room for compromise,” Andrew Whitehead, author of Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States, has told Rolling Stone. “Their vision must be the one that comes to pass.”


Wallnau argued that he and his allies deserve a different label: “We’re really Christian rationalists” who see a “nation in a crisis.” Yet he also insisted that if America doesn’t receive “divine intervention, it’s sunk” — adding that “the Gospel is the only thing that will save America.”


Wallnau’s Saturday podcast also featured far-right fellow preacher Mario Murillo as a panelist. Murillo warned that the nation’s churches need to unify behind Trump because “our nation has been taken over by demonic power.” Reelecting Trump is necessary to “preserve America,” Murillo added. “The church failed the first time around. We did not rally around Trump … and look at where we are.”


Clarifying his view of Trump’s heavenly mission, Murillo added, “The purpose of a Donald Trump presidency is not to get the church to hand over the responsibility to Donald Trump.” The thrice-married Trump’s role, Murillo countered, is just to “buy us time” to achieve what America truly requires: “a moral awakening.”


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