Far-right project that pushed election lies expands mission as Trump intensifies 2024 campaign | Donald Trump

A far-right project that helped spread Donald Trump’s false claims about voter fraud in 2020 and misinformation about Covid vaccines is trying to expand its mission while facing fresh criticism from scholars and religious leaders over its incendiary politics and Christian nationalist messaging.

Reawaken America, the project of Oklahoma-based businessman Clay Clarke, has held several revival-style political events across the US since receiving tens of thousands of dollars in seed funding from billionaire Patrick Byrne in 2021, and has become a key vehicle for pushing the election. Denial and lies about covid vaccines.

Reawaken America also has close ties to retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who met with Trump, Byrne and others at the White House in December 2020 to plan ways to reverse Trump’s election loss. The meeting came shortly after Trump pardoned Flynn, who was convicted of lying to the FBI about contacts with a Russian diplomat before serving briefly as Trump’s national security adviser.

Dr. Simone Gold, who served a 60-day jail sentence for trespassing at the Capitol on Jan. 6, also has ties to Clark’s program and founded America’s Frontline Doctors, an anti-vaccination group that also touted bogus treatments.

“Christian nationalism has deep roots in American history and has gained traction at different points,” said Amanda Tyler, executive director of the Baptist Coalition for Religious Liberty. “The Reawaken America Tour is tapping into the unholy well of Christian nationalism to sow doubt about the US electoral system and the safety of Covid vaccines.

He added: “Clay Clark and others who run this tour are using the name of Jesus, scriptures and worship music to promote a partisan political agenda and personal business interests.

Flynn and Gould have appeared several times at Reawaken America events, and spoke at a two-day rally this January at right-wing pastor Greg Locke’s Tennessee church. It attracted other Trump loyalists, including My Pillow leader Mike Lindel, Eric Trump, Roger Stone and Kash Patel, all of whom appeared at other Reawaken meetings.

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Locke also attended a few other revival events, and became famous for holding vaccines as “sugar water”, pandemic hoaxes, and book burnings.

In a furore-inducing attack on medical professionals at the Tennessee meeting, Gould announced plans to launch an “antidote” to the CDC on March 10 and denounced the “mainstream systems” as “completely broken.”

Gold was ousted last fall from his position on the board of Frontline Doctors in a messy legal dispute that accused him of misappropriating funds for his personal use, including the purchase of a $3.6 million home and three cars in Florida. Mercedes-Benz.

A man holds a shofar as audience members pray inside a tent during the Reawaken America tour in Batavia, New York, in August of last year. Photo: Caroline Castor/AP

“Killing the system is inconsistent with your fiduciary duty to the company,” Gould countered in emails to three board members.

In addition to hosting Gold at its meetings, the ReAwaken website serves as a resource for vaccine deniers. It provides information on jobs that do not require proof of vaccinations and “claiming a religious exemption for the Covid vaccine”.

To expand its events and audience in the coming months, ReAwaken America has announced plans to host a gathering in May at the Tony Trump National Doral Golf Club in Miami. Another is planned for Las Vegas in August.

The Reawaken event at Trump’s club could also be beneficial for Trump, as his new campaign has reportedly eroded support from some evangelical allies who have supported him in the past.

The Doral event “could give the impression that Trump is still strong in the evangelical community,” said senior GOP consultant Charlie Black, who added that “it would be more expensive to do this in Doral” than other venues the tour has used.

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But for mainstream religious leaders and scholars who have studied the growing influence of the Christian nationalist right, the evangelical trappings and speeches at Reawaken events, Trump’s loss and conspiracy claims about vaccine misinformation are troubling and have fueled a backlash.

Tyler’s group has worked with Faithful America, a religious coalition, to mobilize key leaders to take public stands against revival events, and last year helped organize rallies to counter them in Tennessee and other states.

“Our goal is to help Christians provide an alternative witness in the public square,” asserted Tyler, adding that these efforts began a few years ago as “a movement called Christians Against Christian Nationalism. They want to oppose misinformation and threats to democracy.

Likewise, many academic critics raise concerns about medical lies about vaccines spread by gold and other drugs in Reawaken events, and the far-right’s mantra that the 2020 election was rigged.

“The religious nature of these events provides an excuse for people to rally, united by victimization and outrage,” said Samuel Perry, a sociologist at the University of Oklahoma. “It’s incredibly corrosive to democracy because you have a group of political leaders and their followers who not only feel victimized by the culture, but feel like the political system is against them. That’s how you get populist coup attempts.

Regarding the attacks on vaccines, Perry said: “The rhetoric we’re seeing from the Christian far right against medical professionals comes from a variety of sources, including a partisan bent behind leadership, information silos and populist conspiracy theories.”

“Since the early days of the pandemic, the issue of the Covid response has been politicized: Republicans and those on the right have been more inclined to view with skepticism any claims made by so-called ‘experts,'” Perry added. “It obviously involved masks and lockdowns, but ultimately blood transfusions in Covid-19 vaccines. These partisan conspiracies were promoted by pastors, conservative television news and Christian talk radio, where conservative Christians would be more likely to get their messages.

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In addition to the events of the ReAwaken tour, Gold, Flynn and other key figures in the election denial and anti-vaccine ecosystems have been motivated to publicize their conspiracies on multiple platforms, starting with Byrne Flynn in early 2021. A key advisor.

The America Project touts many missions, including electoral integrity, medical freedom, and religious freedom, and compares its role to that of a “symphony conductor,” “connecting with, training, and amplifying the efforts of those who want to ally with us” to fund and work together to save America. America’s Frontline Doctors, a group founded by Gould, is listed among its partners.

Byrne told the Guardian in 2021 group ReAwaken put up “tens of thousands of dollars” to start the tour, and he even attended some of their events.

In similarly expansive language, Gould’s rhetoric in Tennessee took on a prophetic style as he spoke of his vision for transforming America: “We will create a separate society based on justice, objective standards of right and wrong, good and evil.”

From a historical perspective, Christian nationalism’s current role, combined with skeptical criticism of the suffrage movement and Covid vaccines, is fueled by the rise of less-educated evangelicals in politics, particularly the Republican Party, David Hollinger said. Emeritus Professor of History at Berkeley.

“White evangelicals are among the least educated Americans. The Republican Party’s reliance on them marks an unprecedented phase in American history: for the first time, one of the major political parties shows contempt for learning. Even Andrew Jackson’s Democratic Party did not depend for its success on anti-intellectual posturing.

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