A popular right-wing preacher said this week at a “Pastors for Trump” event that the people in his movement want to establish a theocracy—saying that they believe God should “take over the government.”
Former President Donald Trump has long drawn substantial support from evangelicals as well as other conservative Christian groups. “Pastors for Trump” was launched in December by Pastor Jackson Lahmeyer, with the newly formed organization saying at the time that it had chapters in every state and included Christian leaders representing some 200,000 congregants.
Speaking at Lahmeyer’s Tulsa, Oklahoma, church during a Wednesday event for the pro-Trump organization, right-wing activist and speaker Sean Feucht explained that their movement is advocating for God to “control everything.” He also embraced the label of Christian nationalism, as have a number of prominent pro-Trump conservatives.
“It’s all part of the king coming back. That’s what we’re practicing for,” Feucht told the crowd in attendance, according to a video clip first shared by Right Wing Watch on Friday. “That’s why we get called ‘Christian nationalists.'”
The pro-Trump preacher continued, adding that critics say: “You want The Kingdom to be the government.” He then responded enthusiastically, “Yes!”
“You want God to come on over and take over the government?” he asked, again representing the arguments of his movement’s critics. “Yes!” he responded with excitement.
“We want God to be in control of everything! We want believers to be the ones writing the laws! Yes! Guilty as charged,” Feucht said. He added that, “We wouldn’t be a disciple of Jesus if we didn’t believe that.”
Trump’s Firm Support from Conservative Christians
Trump drew the support of about 80 percent of white evangelical Christians in the 2016 presidential election. This trend was repeated in 2020, with surveys and exit polls showing between 76 and 81 percent of the religious demographic backed the former Republican president, NPR reported. In addition to evangelicals, Pew Research Center data showed that a majority (63 percent) of white Catholics who regularly attend mass backed Trump in the last presidential election.
Meanwhile, prominent Republicans, such as Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, have proudly embraced the “Christian nationalist” label. Greene has sold shirts with the label as part of her political fundraising.
“There’s nothing wrong with leading with your faith…If we do not live our lives and vote like we are nationalists—caring about our country, and putting our country first and wanting that to be the focus of our federal government—if we do not lead that way, then we will not be able to fix it,” the GOP lawmaker said at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit last July.
What Is Christian Nationalism?
Paul D. Miller, professor of the practice of international affairs and co-chair for global politics and security at Georgetown University, explained in a 2021 article for Christianity Today that “Christian nationalism is the belief that the American nation is defined by Christianity, and that the government should take active steps to keep it that way.”
Miller continued, writing that the movement asserts “that America is and must remain a ‘Christian nation’—not merely as an observation about American history, but as a prescriptive program for what America must continue to be in the future.” Christian nationalists, “believe that Christianity should enjoy a privileged position in the public square.”
Separation of Church and State in the Constitution
Critics of the movement view it as dangerous and antithetical to the Constitution, which outlines a separation of church and state. This concept is established in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” the amendment says.
The First Amendment is generally interpreted to mean that Americans—lawmakers, un-elected government officials and ordinary citizens alike—are entitled to hold any religious belief they choose. It also guarantees that one particular religion is not favored by the government over another.
Many prominent Trump supporters and other conservatives have been openly campaigning against this established constitutional concept. Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers in states across the country have been pushing forward laws that appear to challenge the separation of church and state.
Conservative Christians Impact on Politics
In Texas this week, the GOP-controlled state Senate passed a bill that would require the Ten Commandments from The Bible’s Old Testament to be displayed in public schools. The law would also set aside time in the school day for prayer and religious study. Laws restricting access to abortion as well as others targeting LGBTQ+ individuals have largely been pushed forward by conservative lawmakers and Christian activists—some of whom openly embrace Christian nationalism.
“When Christians essentially say, we wouldn’t be disciples of God if we didn’t want political power, I am afraid they are talking about a God they have crafted in their own image, and not the God of the Gospel,” Dr. Heather Thompson Day, a Christian author, speaker and associate professor of communication at Andrews University, told Newsweek on Saturday.
She said that the example of Jesus was the opposite of seeking power and control. “They tried to make him king, and he wasn’t interested in earthly thrones,” Thompson Day said. “There is difference between seeking ‘Christian power,’ and revealing the power of God through Christians.”
Reverend Nathan Empsall, the executive director of Faithful America, told Newsweek on Saturday that Feucht should read the Gospel of Luke and remember that Jesus rejected earthly power when it was offered to him.
“When self-identified Christian nationalist leaders like Sean Feucht say they want a Christian nation, it doesn’t just mean they want to seize power for far-right politicians like Donald Trump or Ron DeSantis by any means necessary. It also means denying religious liberty and civil rights to non-Christians, progressive Christians, the Black church tradition, LGBTQ people, women, and other targeted communities,” he said.
Trump, who launched his 2024 GOP presidential bid in November, is currently the frontrunner for his party’s nomination. DeSantis, the governor of Florida who has championed state legislation restricting abortion and targeting the LGBTQ+ community, has not yet announced an intention to challenge Trump, but is generally seen as his most formidable contender for the Republican nomination.
Recent polling carried out in March by Monmouth University showed that Trump remains the favorite of evangelicals, however. The former president was backed by 44 percent of evangelicals and DeSantis was supported by just 25 percent.