Ahead of Michael Flynn’s speech at the Trump National Doral Miami stop of the ReAwaken America Tour on Friday (May 12), a group of local clergy and national faith leaders spoke at All Angels Episcopal Church in Miami Springs to oppose a “Christian Nationalist twisting of faith to attack democracy.”
The ReAwaken America Tour has stopped at megachurches and other venues across the country over the two years and features notable far-right figures who helped inspire the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection such as Roger Stone, Mike Lindell, Pastor Mark Burns, and Sean Feucht.
The protest event, organized by Faithful America and Christians Against Christian Nationalism, featured Rev. Nathan Empsall of Faithful America, Amanda Tyler of the Baptist Joint Committee and Christians Against Christian Nationalism, Rev. Jen Butler of Faith in Public Life Action, Rev. Dr. Russell Meyer of Florida Council of Churches, Rev. James Golden of Pastors for Florida Children, and Charles Toy of The Christian Left.
Empsall of Faithful America started by pointing out that ReAwaken events began the previous night with a “Pastors for Trump” reception that was heavy on MAGA celebrities but light on pastors. In fact, within the first 30 minutes of the event, there had been only about two minutes of prayer.
“The goal of Christian Nationalism is clear: to seize political power for its conservative Christian adherents at all costs and at the expense of all others. That’s not a religion — it is a political ideology. One that coopts the symbols and rhetoric of religion, but only coopts them and does not start with them,” he added.
Tyler of BJC then followed up by making it clear what they mean when they use the term Christian Nationalism. “[It] is a poisonous ideology and cultural framework that seeks to merge American and Christian identity. It suggests that to be a ‘real American,’ one must be a Christian — and not just any kind of Christian but a particular type of Christian who espouses fundamentalist beliefs and conservative political positions. Christian Nationalism overlaps with and provides cover for White Supremacy and racial subjugation,” she said.
“Jesus’s church is in every land, and it welcomes people from everywhere,” Meyer of the Florida Council of Churches added. “If you make it about one nation, it is no longer the church of Jesus Christ. And what the ReAwaken America tour attempts to do is to make Christianity about ‘America First.’ That means it’s not the church of Jesus Christ, and they are taking the Lord’s name in vain.”
Butler of Faith in Public Life framed her protest as something she feels compelled to do as a Christian and as a pastor. “The same lies and violence permitted by White Christian Nationalism are at the root of so many of the dangerous bills that are having a negative impact right here in Florida and then spreading across the country,” she noted. “Those bills target trans youth and trans people, and anti-LGBTQ, anti-diversity equity and inclusion, the six week abortion ban, efforts to silence teachers and to ban books, to erase history, to indoctrinate children. This, my friends, is the beginning of fascism and we must oppose it at all costs.”
“So-called Christian Nationalism,” Golden of Pastors for Florida Children preached, “is nothing more than a secularistic abomination of a nonsensical idea, which is devoid of any Christian theological legitimacy and denigrates the faith-filled efforts to promote the promise to be found in ‘One Nation Under God.’ So-called Christian Nationalism being propagated over at Trump Doral today by self-serving secularists among us is not founded on true Christian principles. Neither does it produce or promote a diverse, equitable, and inclusive nation.”
Toy, the final speaker at the event, underlined that ReAwaken is centered on targeting disadvantaged communities: “They rally everyone against the most vulnerable while they funnel power and money to the rich. That’s what this is. … This is an economic undertaking because underneath it all, this is about the haves and the have-nots, and they’re trying to commandeer Christianity as a tool.”
In addition to mobile protest billboards driving around the downtown Miami and Doral areas, Faithful America and Christians Against Christian Nationalism are also sponsoring a boat billboard that will be seen around downtown Miami as it travels through Biscayne Bay and along the Miami River.
As a follow-up to the Friday event, Faithful America, Christians Against Christian Nationalism, and Faith in Public Life Action, in partnership with the Florida Council of Churches, will host a training and discussion on Saturday for local clergy about the best ways to confront Christian Nationalism with their congregations.