As Josh Mandel campaigns in Ohio for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate, he keeps showing up in churches. Mandel, who’s locked in a tight race with author J.D. Vance and investment banker Mike Gibbons ahead of the May 3 primary, made four stops Thursday (Apr. 21) as part of a “Faith & Freedom” tour with Michael Flynn.
“It’s good to be here at the home team. I say the home team. We’ve been running this campaign through churches,” Mandel said during a rally at Victory Christian Church in Kettering. “We’re still in the lead in this race for one main reason: Because we have this army of Christian warriors.”
Continuing with the fighting language, the former state treasurer praised those supporting his campaign like the Right to Life Action Coalition of Ohio, whom he called “the pointed tip of the spear when it comes to standing up for life.” And he asked for votes because in the Senate race there’s “only one fighter,” which is him with “the scars and the proven record.”
And this holy “fight” must be waged against the left in the name of defending “God.”
“The radical left, the secular left, they’re engaging in an all-out assault on eternal truths, on Judeo-Christian values, and everything we know to be right and just in Bible and in fact,” he declared. “They believe in one nation under government. … We believe in one nation under God. When you believe in one nation under God, the rules don’t change because those rules have been around for thousands of years.”
“The left in this country, they’re trying to make America into socialism,” he added. “Think about the socialist playbook. What’s one of the first things they do? Take God out of society. Think about the ACLU, all these groups trying to take faith out of everything. We should be going the opposite direction. Not watering down on our Judeo-Christian values, we should be doubling down.”
Flynn picked up the fighting theme and added a more apocalyptic tinge as he campaigned for Mandel. The former general briefly served as President Donald Trump’s first U.S. National Security Advisor and later got a pardon from Trump for lying to the FBI about secret conversations with a Russian official. Flynn has been a proponent of Christian Nationalism.
Flynn told the crowd at Victory Christian he thinks “we are facing a time in our country” where “this is not politics as usual.” Thus, people need to get involved to stop the “very strong and very passionate and very well-funded sort of globalist elite group of people.”
“When I look at indicators for the rise of a nation-state and the fall of the nation-state, we are facing a lot of those indicators,” he added. “We have to choose a different path. The destiny of this country will be whatever path you choose — not yesterday, what path you choose tomorrow. That’s the destiny of this country. …. And we’re not in the 11th hour; this is like the last couple of seconds of the 12th hour, folks. You feel it, you know it.”
“I served overseas in many, many, really the worst places on the planet,” he added. “I never really thought that it would be a domestic battle that I would end up waging. Because that’s really what we’re waging right now. And it’s a spiritual war, period.”
As proof of this “spiritual war,” he claimed “the Democratic platform removed God in 2012” and “that means they’re not going to talk about it, they’re going to remove it from everything that they do.” Despite his claim, the Democratic Party did not remove the word “God” from its final platform in 2012, and many Democrats do talk about God (including President Joe Biden). But that didn’t stop Flynn from attacking Democrats as godless while also appearing to invoke a QAnon conspiracy involving John F. Kennedy.
“We can’t see ourselves as Christians and then vote for the Democrat,” Flynn said. “A guy like a JFK would roll over in his grave today. He was an American patriot.”
“I’m not one to wear my faith on my sleeve, but I know what we’re up against. I know what we’re up against when we talk about this globalist elite,” he argued. “This small group of people — they exist and they’re very real, they’re very real. And they have the intention to basically take this country in a completely different direction unless we the people, we get involved.”
As proof that “they” don’t want “we the people” to get involved, Flynn repeated debunked claims about alleged fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
“Elections have consequences; stolen elections have grave consequences,” he said. “This is outrageous theft of our election.”
Mandel echoed the false claims about 2020: “I believe the election was stolen! Regarding Jan. 6, I’m the only candidate in this race who’s calling to abolish the Jan. 6 Commission to replace it with a Nov. 3 commission.”
The calls for Christians to vote and fight was also echoed by ministers who spoke briefly at the rally. Rev. Steve McCuin, lead pastor of the Pentecostal church hosting the event, invoked the Jewish holiday of Passover as he prayed a blessing for Mandel, who is Jewish.
“We’re in the middle of Passover week,” McCuin prayed. “We know, Father, that the word says that if we bless Israel we’ll be blessed, if we curse Israel we’ll be cursed. So, today we bless Israel. We bless America. We bless these men who are standing for America.”
“We know that this Passover season that pharaohs are destroyed and God’s people are set free,” McCuin added. “So, we declare in Jesus name that over these men and over our nation, that pharaohs will be destroyed and God’s people will be set free and great leaders will be restored to power and authority. And we declare that and we decree it as a group today for you said if any two agree to such a one thing that you’d be in their midst. Father, we receive that now. Bless these men. Let victory be apparent and let it be strong. In Jesus name.”
This invoking of divine blessing on the campaign is also being put into action with an effort to enlist pastoral endorsements. Rev. J.C. Church, who helped coordinate the effort to get over 100 pastors to publicly endorse Mandel, introduced the candidate at Thursday’s rally. Church praised the pastors who “are standing bravely and boldly” to support Mandel.
In a couple weeks, voters will prove whether this strategy of enlisting “Christian warriors” actually works.