FRC ‘Watchmen’ Pastor Knocks Off Incumbent Congressman In North Carolina GOP Primary

Baptist Pastor Mark Harris won the GOP congressional primary for North Carolina's 9th District. (Image from Harris campaign video)

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins celebrated conservative turnout in Tuesday’s primary elections in an email to members yesterday, taking special note of the upset win of Mike Harris, a member of FRC’s “Watchmen on the Wall” network of right-wing pastors, who defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger in North Carolina’s 9th congressional district.

“There is no realm that God has made an exception for that He doesn’t intend for believers to be salt and light,” Harris told the Christian Broadcasting Network after his primary win. “Every arena God expects us to be engaged.”

Not surprisingly, Harris has a track record of opposing LGBTQ equality and abortion rights. Harris was an ally of the anti-LGBTQ Benham brothers in opposition to a Charlotte nondiscrimination law, and he was a driving force behind the campaign that put a ban on same-sex couples getting married into the state constitution; his First Baptist Church contributed more than $50,000 to the campaign. Harris, who says being gay is “a choice,” has said the anti-equality amendment was not about discrimination but about “standing up for the values and principles that have been a part of the fabric of American society.”

Both candidates had embraced Trump, but Harris had described Pittenger as a creature of the Washington swamp and called the primary a battle for “the heart and soul of the Republican Party.” He has praised new state-level restrictions on abortion and called for conservative Supreme Court justices who will revisit Roe v Wade so that the law can recognize that “life begins with conception” and  extend legal protections to the “unborn.”

Harris previously made a 2014 bid for the GOP Senate nomination and took on Pittenger unsuccessfully in 2016.

In his Washington Update on Wednesday, Perkins called Harris “one of FRC’s Watchmen pastors who was critical in FRC Action’s highly successful effort in the 2016 general election.” He cited a report that voters were upset over a spending bill because it didn’t defund Planned Parenthood. Said Perkins:

If House and Senate leaders want to keep their majority, they’ll have to prove their sincerity on these issues and more leading up to November. Voters don’t want talk — they want action on Planned Parenthood and out-of-control spending. Let’s hope that message was received on Capitol Hill, where there’s a lot of work left to be done.

CBN on Wednesday described Christian-nation activist David Lane as one of Harris’s “staunchest supporters.” Lane has been working for several years to get conservative pastors to run for public office. Lane told CBN that he knows of at least 300 pastors running at the local level, saying, “A grassroots, precinct-level explosion is occurring across the country by evangelical and pro-life Catholic Christians.”