This week I was ordained as a Marxist pastor. No one was more surprised than me.
Ahead of the ReAwaken America Tour in Branson, Missouri, last weekend, I wrote a column for the Missouri Independent criticizing this “carnival of extremism” rolling into the entertainment capital of the Midwest. I noted that this tour, which has held 16 previous stops across the country, has been headlined by people like Michael Flynn, Eric Trump, and Roger Stone. That last guy read my piece.
Stone went on the instant messaging app Telegram to criticize my column. But he didn’t read it very carefully. Apparently, nuance is not his thing.
“Hey Marxist Pastor – you are attacking me for speaking at an eveny [sic] I am NOT even at,” Stone wrote. “Check the 10 Commandments on the issue of lying.”
Of course, I didn’t say he was at Branson. At the time I wrote the piece, the schedule hadn’t even been released. What I said about Stone was he had been a headliner for the tour, which is true. And I recounted stuff said at earlier ReAwaken evenys, err, I mean events. That means I was writing about ones he previously attended since, again, I wrote this before the Branson episode occurred. (For more about what went down in Branson, check out my photo essay and written report I put together afterward).
And let’s put aside the fact that Stone wants people to be judged by the 10 Commandments and especially the one about bearing false witness. After all, we’re talking about the same guy who rose to fame as a “dirty trickster” for Richard Nixon, co-ran a consulting firm known as “the torturers’ lobby” because they helped brutal third-world dictators, sparked controversy for his swinger lifestyle with his wife, has been linked to numerous untruthful and unethical campaign tactics, has ties to the Proud Boys, has been accused by Capitol Police officers of helping incite violence ahead of the Jan. 6 insurrection, and was convicted on federal charges of obstructing an official proceeding, witness tampering, and making false statements (i.e., lying). Let’s not mention any of that or his other scandals. Let’s not judge him right now by his self-professed standard of the 10 Commandments and especially that of bearing false witness.
Instead, let’s return to the “Marxist Pastor” title he bestowed upon me. There is literally nothing espousing Marxism in my Missouri Independent column. I didn’t even talk about economic systems, class, or historical materialism.
My critique of the ReAwaken America Tour focused on two areas: it undermines and even attacks basic democratic principles, and it is a heretical misuse of Christian words, symbols, and liturgies.
Stone didn’t address the substance of my detailed critique, which includes links to previous pieces I’ve written about what he and others said at previous ReAwaken events. He didn’t because I’m right. As Jan. 6 proved, Stone has long sought to undermine democracy. The ReAwaken Tour is just another way of doing that. And Stone and his ReAwaken colleagues preach a false gospel of Christian Nationalism that worships at the altar of power instead of taking seriously the words of Jesus.
Thus, instead of addressing the substance of my critique, Stone resorted to name-calling. He reached for the first boogeyman term that came to mind and slapped it on me without bothering to even check Wikipedia to learn what it means.
So, that’s how I became a “Marxist Pastor.” Because a man with Richard Nixon’s face tattooed on his back doesn’t like being challenged for his dangerous and heretical words. But if Stone doesn’t like what I’m preaching, then I’m probably in good company. After all, if he met that guy who talked about turning the other cheek, sharing what you have, setting the prisoners free, canceling debts, and not loving money, Stone would probably dismiss such preaching as Marxist.