The GOP’s Christian Soldiers

It isn’t just Pennsylvania–but most of the GOP candidates in that state’s primaries were terrifying and all-too-representative of whatever it is that the Republican Party has become.

All of the GOP’s primary candidates were Trumpers, but Doug Mastriano, who won the Republican gubernatorial primary by twenty points, is probably the most representative of the Christian Soldiers and White Supremicists who now dominate the party. He was described by Talking Points Memo as 

the Trumpiest of the Trumpists, having received the former president’s “Complete and Total Endorsement” on Saturday. It’s not just because he has enthusiastically promoted Trump’s stolen election lie, participated in the January 6 insurrection, and signaled his intent to abuse his power as governor to overturn any Democratic presidential victory in Pennsylvania in 2024. It’s because Mastriano believes he is on a mission from God — and has an energized Christian nationalist movement at his back.

In the GOP’s Senate primary, Cathy Barnett (a Black right-winger too weird and Trumpy even for Trump) appealed to Christian Nationalists with all-out bigotry.  CNN has reported that Barnette argued for discriminating against Muslims and compared rejecting Islam to “… rejecting Hitler’s or Stalin’s worldviews.” She has also said that accepting homosexuality would lead to the acceptance of incest and pedophilia. She called a transgender person “deformed” and “demonic.” Barnett lost, but took an all-too-respectable portion of the primary vote.

The Christian Right has long been an important part of the Republican base, but as Talking Points Memo reports, that constituency has become more highly radicalized, “a trend that was validated and accelerated by Trump’s candidacy and presidency — and especially by his stolen election lie.”

A movement that elevated Trump to messianic status and shielded him from his 2019 impeachment was able to convince millions that satanic forces had robbed God’s man in the White House of his anointed perch as the restorer of America’s white Christian heritage. Their duty, as patriotic spiritual warriors, was to go to battle on his behalf.

Mastriano, a state senator, has not only ridden the wave of this radicalized movement, he has openly embraced it. He spoke at the December 12, 2020, Jericho March on the National Mall, which promoted the stolen election lie and pledged to rally a spiritual army to overturn the election results. Earlier this year, he announced his run for governor at a Christian nationalist event at which a shofar was blown, an increasingly commonplace occurrence as a symbol of Trump’s victory over satanic forces, otherwise known as our democracy. As Brian Kaylor and Beau Underwood detail in their newsletter, A Public Witness, Mastriano has been campaigning at events like Pennsylvania For Christ, whose organizers claim their goal is to “reestablish the kingdom of God in PA,” and Patriots Arise for God, Family, and Country, where he pledged, “in November, we’re going to take our state back. My God will make it so.”

According to an article in the Washington Post, Mastriano is part of a far-right group that calls itself the “Thursday Night Patriots.” The group originally promoted a variety of far-right conspiratorial beliefs: that the coronavirus vaccine is causing cancer,  that President Biden’s election was suspect and that racism is being overblown in public schools. Then participants began using an ahistorical “curriculum” for studying the Constitution “that emphasized self-defense, free enterprise and above all the belief that America was founded to be — and should remain — a Christian country.”

Christian nationalists fervently believe that America had a divine, Christian founding, and that it is their job as patriotic believers to rescue it from secular and satanic forces–i.e., from the rest of us. Mastriano is one of them, and he is now the official Republican candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania. If that doesn’t make your blood run cold, I don’t know what would.

The Talking Points Memo article identified some “key inflection points”–events that we now understand operated to integrate this Christian zealotry  into Republican presidential politics. John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin, a charismatic Christian, was one.

Another was then-Texas governor Rick Perry’s enormous prayer rally in Houston’s professional basketball stadium in 2011, on the eve of his announcement of his 2012 presidential run, where speakers focused on spiritual warfare, obedience to Jesus, and reclaiming a Christian America.

The article in Talking Points Memo ends with an obvious–but terrifying–observation:

If Trump’s religious acolytes are elected to offices from which they can unlawfully manipulate election outcomes because God told them to, election subversion in 2024 could, even more than in 2020, be wrapped in a flag and a cross.


  1. The money that controls the PA state government gerrymandered up their state to ensure these radical lunatics would outperform their counterparts. All for the sake of control.

    Most of them should be locked up in mental institutions, but instead, they’ll likely be running the government.

    Due to the overshadowing of these yahoos, not much discussion about the grossly underfunded progressives in PA destroying the PAC-rich democratic party faithful within the urban centers.

    Will they be voting in PA or lining up with guns for a duel to see who wins in November?

    By the way, now you know why this liberal has a lifetime carry permit. I don’t need a visible sidearm to go into Walmart. I saw a glimpse of these yahoos at a city meeting a decade ago, and I knew no one would save me from the local police department, who always arrive after the crime has been committed. 😉

    They are downright scary and are scattered all over Indiana as well. So when people say they have God on their side, you better be doing further investigation.

    And yes, John, I know I’m on the list. 😉

  2. Maybe it is a good thing that the extreme end of the GOP is winning their primaries. That way there is a clear choice in the general election; democracy or totalitarianism. Know them for what they are.

  3. Establishment Republicans embraced Christian fundamentalists with bear hugs in the 70’s-80’s because they were willing to do the grunt work of knocking on doors, making phone calls and holding fire-breathing rallies. Now they’ve taken over the party to realize their dream of total control of the 7 mountains of Dominionism.

    Sleep well Republicans…you made your own bed. As for Dems? You’d better get OUT of your bed and start knocking on a lot more doors before your votes are no longer counted in elections. And if you’re not paying attention to what Lt. Gov. Fetterman is doing in PA, you’re not in the game.

  4. Thom Tillis in NC prevailed in his bid to oust Madison Cawthorne who was developing more scandals. Will there be any extremists on the left lose? They certainly aren’t being called out.
    JFK certainly would be running things differently. If you looked at his platform and the people around him, the Democrat Party wouldn’t have anything to worry about this fall.
    The economic devastation started day one with the ideology of this administration crippling the economy. People are suffering. There is mishandling of the government and no one is asking for a Biden endorsement. Democrats are about 2/3 rd proclaiming to be Christians while the Republican party is over4/5th proclaiming to be Republican.
    So do we change the ideology of 70% of everyone or learn how to pass legislation that works for everyone. The pendulum is swinging too hard.

  5. A little more than 300 years following the epic life and teachings of Jesus, Emperor Constantine I embraced Christianity to unite the Roman Empire. Given the absurd ways followers of Trump are invoking the name of Christ, there must be a memorial very similar to Lincoln Memorial with Constantine in a familiar state of anguished repose.

  6. We should look closer to home and examine the Indiana General Assembly. A new report shows that members of the Republican caucus have joined far-right Facebook groups to promote White Christian nationalism, COVID denialism, QAnon, and other lunacy. Read about it in the Ohio Capitol Journal and find a link to the report with the names of the Indiana legislators and the groups they’ve joined.

  7. If the Dems don’t wake up and start sounding the alarm, they will watch these creatures walk into office next January.

  8. Constantine is celebrated as the first Roman emperor to embrace Christianity but some historians question whether he actually embraced it or pretended to since it was a political necessity as it was running roughshod among Rome’s citizens and its colonies. Most any religion has its holy book(s), and the finalization of what went into the bible and what was left to pseudigraphia was completed by a Second Council of Christian bishops in 381 A.D. in what is present day Turkey.

    Fast forward to money hungry TV preachers and faith healers – and now politicians who want to tell women what to do with their bodies (though unmentioned in the holy book). Republicans today would lose every national election with turnout if ALL the votes were counted, so they have resorted to a re-merger of church and state where their party is in charge of both.

    With the coming demise of their party since they have no platform or set of guiding principles, perhaps they should re-name the remnants of their party the Constantines.

  9. I have learned over the years to respect everyone’s personal assumptions about what is beyond proof. Why not? It makes them comfortable and they feel that they are doing the best that they can.

    That being said, one of the wisest aspects of liberal democracy is it’s rejection of theocracy.

    Way back when our biggest national worry was would John F Kennedy follow the Constitution or the Pope, he made it clear that his belief would not dictate public policy and lived that way so freedom of religion was honored.

    Why did it come back? In these days of divide and conquer it’s a convenient political strategy. It’s a naturally divisive concept because there are not only believers and non-believers but the believers come in many different flavors, an authoritarian politicians dreamworld.

    Not only was religion brought forward as a divide and conquer political strategy but so have been every aspect of belief despite evidence: guns, women’s rights, climate change, border policy, race, urban vs rural living, even who has the most right to kill who.

    That’s what happens when bullies get pulpits.

  10. Yes, Patrick, a clear choice may be very helpful, if the sane can outnumber the crazies. Still, the publicity around the religious issue that will accompany the Pa. Gov’s race, and whatever others, may wind up still further damaging the country’s stability.

    If, when, hopefully, the religious crazies lose, they will scream loudly.

    The legacy of Reagan’s pulling in the evangelicals and of Trump’s escalating their presence on the stage is not going to be pretty!

  11. The US is rapidly coming to an end, and not a good one. As for me, I’ll be watching from afar as the US empire destroys it’s self.

  12. While so many on the left bemoan the rise of the “Christian right” these days I want to praise the work of President Biden and the Democrats for their work to restore the parts of government that the Republicans allowed Trump to destroy. In particular I note the reformation and reunion of NATO and the role it has played in the war in Ukraine. Also let us hope that both Sweden and Finland quickly join that alliance as Russia is on the ropes in Ukraine. A reordering of global power is taking place before your eyes that will hopefully bring about the government structure necessary to finally get real action going to solve our climate change problems.
    The world is moving in one direction, and the Republican “Christian” party is moving away from reality.

  13. I wouldn’t blame it on Trump, Theresa. He’s just a con man playing with these crazies. He’s closer to the Clintons than you think. They are all conning the people with their schticks. Every once in a while they slip in front of a live camera or someone catches it on their phone just like the police were getting caught punching protestors for no reason or slamming old men or black women to the ground.

    Trump has figured out a way to make a buck of these people just like the crazy preachers. Off-camera, they just count their money and make fun of these people.

  14. Good morning Todd,

    Without a doubt you’re on the list, probably on more than just one, lol! To borrow a line, I don’t always agree with your viewpoints, but when I do, they are most interesting 🤔😲

    I find it fascinating that I do get blowback from a lot of commenters on this blog thread, but, I get even more blowback when I get into it with white Evangelical Christian nationalists. An analogy would be, someone pulls their weapon on you, you take it away and jam it back in their face. I’m not talking about being fascistically mean, but just matter of fact!

    Jesus Christ said that the whole law hangs on “love God and love your neighbor.”
    (Matthew 22:37 – 39)

    So if you do your research, the word that had been translated from the Greek into love was “Agape!” This word is used over 250 times in the Christian Greek scriptures. And, it actually means unselfish love guided by principle. It means a conscience-driven commitment towards your fellow man, hence your neighbor! It doesn’t mean a select minority of white christians! Because Christianity didn’t start in the white or Caucasian realm, the Bible is actually more of an Asian book!

    When you really get into it, we all know the story of Job. At the time, Job was known as “the greatest oriental.” Now, some folks claim Oriental is not appropriate, but all Oriental means as translated, “Sons of the east!” Nothing derogatory at all! (Job 1:3)

    In addition, and I won’t get into it real deep so to speak, but scripture states that God’s kingdom is not brought about by any man! It’s not brought about by any conglomeration of men or religions! So, that dispels their idea of setting up God’s government on Earth through their conduct!

    Most of us have heard Christ’s words quoted at John 14:6, which reads; “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.”

    So, if one is not empathetic or compassionate, they cannot be following the law of Christ! If they are not following the law of Christ, then they are not Christian! But, in scripture those individuals are called something else!

    In Scripture, these are known as followers of “the man of lawlessness!” These followers are known as being part of the Great apostasy, or the revolt against God, not worshipers or followers of God. In other words, they miss the mark!

    In Proverbs 19: 2, it reads; “It is no use to act before you think, to be Hasty is to miss the mark.”

    Or, if you miss the mark, you are purposely dismissing God. And as it says at proverbs 8:36; “but he who misses me wrongs himself, all who hate me love death.”

    They miss the mark, they don’t follow the law! And, if they don’t follow Christ law, it states in 1st John 3:4; “everyone who practices sin is also practicing lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”

    So, the The Great apostasy is to follow the man of lawlessness. And those who are following the man of lawlessness are practicing sin and sin is lawlessness.

    That means the lawless are purposely misusing scripture and promoting men’s dogma to shape their own message. That’s Sinning against holy Spirit, and that sin is not forgivable!

    So, when those White Christian Evangelical nationalists attempt to use scripture for their own nefarious purposes, I like to throw it right back at them, as they struggle to make their case, I just keep going point by point. In the end, they just walk away.

  15. I think there are going to be alot of disappointed fundamentalists when the show up at the Pearly gates and speak to St. Peter.

    As a Christian–growing up in the church but haling from Terre Haute where there are alot of fundamentalists–Southern Baptists, Pentecostal’s , non-denominationals’ and having friends damaged by attending these churches or being indoctrined–I have been fully aware of their hypocrisy, their tainted views, and their hate for others. Indiana a hotbed for hate groups and I see a linear exchange between these self-proclaimed Christians and hate groups.

    If Jesus, a brown-colored man with progressive speech and acceptance of others showed up today not a single one of them would recognize the Jesus they claim to love and follow.

    I now live in Nashville, TN–for the past 2 weeks there is a proliferation of billboards with Trump and the statement that Nashville Loves Trump. Every day I flip them those signs the bird. I am waiting for some Dodge Truck Driver, rolling coal to aim a gun at me. My husband and I have talked about getting a gun for the reasons Todd expresses, not to mention our daughter is adopted and is of Chinese descent.

  16. Sure wish these fanatics could explain and show me what teachings of Christ they are following. The Christ I learned about in church, school, my home and what minimal Bible reading I have done, sure wouldn’t act like these loonies do.
    My Christian education taught me that these kinds of negative debacles we see everyday
    from these people is the very reason Jesus was sent to earth in the first place.
    They better get themselves on the right path or get prepared for pain and pestilence like they have never seen in their lifetime.

  17. lot o’ bible quotes. Rev 3: 20. Ya gotta come to the Jesus voluntarily.

    Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

    .. or legislate morality… that always works… ugh

  18. Theresa is so right (correct) in her comments on the rise of the “Christian right”. I skimmed over a referral to George W’s Patriot Act, which removed so many of our rights as citizens that I have given that more thought. Removing our civil and human rights gave full power to elected and appointed “lawmakers” that I now wonder if that is the basis of the powerful rise of the “Christian right” White Nationalist MAGA party.. There must be some power base behind those such as McConnell, et al, who simply refuse to perform their required responsibilities, knowing there is no recourse to force them to uphold their Oath of Office. The hundreds of stalled, ignored and blatant refusals to hold required hearings on nominees in President Obama’s administration which began with the Republican majority takeover of House and Senate. And the quick passage of any fool Trump nominated passed through the system like “you know what” through the system goose.

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