Texas Baptist Church to Host Michael Flynn and QAnon Promoters - Word&Way

Texas Baptist Church to Host Michael Flynn and QAnon Promoters

A prominent Southern Baptist church in Fort Worth, Texas, will host a two-day event this weekend featuring disgraced former Lt. General Michael Flynn and other activists who have pushed QAnon conspiracy theories about alleged sex trafficking rings. The event, “America’s Future: End Child Exploitation & Trafficking,” will be held on Feb. 23-24 at Birchman Baptist Church.

Flynn serves as board chairman for America’s Future, the group putting on the conference during which he will give “special remarks.” He briefly served as Trump’s National Security Advisor before resigning because he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his communications with a Russian government official. Later in 2017, Flynn pleaded guilty in the Mueller investigation to a felony count of making false statements to the FBI, but he then received a pardon from Trump. Flynn also joined efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election so Trump could stay in office, and invoked the Fifth Amendment when asked by the U.S. House Jan. 6 committee if he thought the violence of the insurrection was justified and if he believed in the peaceful transfer of power.

Michael Flynn speaks at a ReAwaken America Tour event on Nov. 5, 2022, in Branson, Missouri. (Brian Kaylor/Word&Way)

Flynn is now the main figure behind the ReAwaken America Tour, a traveling variety show of Christian Nationalism, anti-vaccine rhetoric, QAnon conspiracies, and MAGA politics. At those events, he’s called for “one nation under God and one religion under God,” urged pastors to preach more about the U.S. Constitution than the Bible, denounced anyone who disagrees with Christian Nationalism as an “atheist,” and even claimed his opponents are soulless.

This weekend, he’ll be welcomed to a Southern Baptist church for an event the church is even promoting on its website and during recent Sunday worship services. The church’s executive pastor, David Hain, said Sunday (Feb. 18) that the group had been turned down by other churches in the area but Birchman was happy to host, so he encouraged congregants to register. And the church’s website says “Birchman is excited to partner with America’s Future” for the conference.

The church’s senior pastor, Bob Pearle, is a former president — and current executive board member — of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. He’s also the author of a book endorsed by Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. When asked by Word&Way about why the church would host a conference with Flynn, Pearle defended the conference but didn’t answer the part about Flynn’s support for the Jan. 6 insurrection and Christian Nationalism.

“It is a conference on sex trafficking which is a major problem in our country and in the metroplex. The more awareness on the problem and how to spot it prayerfully can lead to its elimination,” Pearle told Word&Way in an email.

In addition to Flynn, the conference will include several other controversial figures. Lara Logan, a board member at Flynn’s America’s Future group, receives top billing along with Flynn. In recent years, she’s become a right-wing commentator, but she was dumped by Fox News after an anti-vax segment comparing Dr. Anthony Fauci to Nazi doctor Josef Mengele and she was banned from Newsmax after a QAnon-themed rant.

The conference will also include remarks by Mike Smith, a former stuntman who is a board member for America’s Future and has created QAnon films (one of which will be shown at the conference); Liz Crokin, an outspoken supporter of QAnon conspiracies like “Pizzagate” (that claimed there’s a pedophilia ring in the basement of a pizza restaurant that doesn’t even have a basement); Tara Lee Rodas, who has appeared on numerous QAnon-related podcasts and shows; Brian Gamble, a Flynn associate who was at the Capitol on Jan. 6; and others.

While many of the conference’s speakers often accuse liberal politicians and Hollywood elites of engaging in child sexual abuse and trafficking, Birchman’s denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, continues to struggle with its own record of sexual abuse. Pearle has criticized SBC efforts to investigate abuse and enact reforms, and he has defended disgraced former SBC leader Paige Patterson who was fired from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas for mishandling allegations of student rapes.