“American Evangelicals for Trump: Dominion, Spiritual Warfare, and the End Times,” by Canadian scholar André Gagné, explores the theological underpinnings of the New Apostolic Reformation, a movement of predominantly Charismatic Christians that views politics as spiritual warfare and opposition to former President Donald Trump as demonic.
Gagné, a professor of religion at Concordia University, focuses on a few theological concepts to explain the religious and political worldview of some of Trump’s most ardent followers: dominion, spiritual warfare, and the End Times. That focus makes the book a valuable read for people who are mystified about the intensity of conservative Christian support for Trump, and are willing to dig into the meaning of different beliefs about the End Times and how those beliefs impact people’s views about politics, pluralism, and democracy.
Those differences can be powerful. Rejecting the End Times theology of rapture and tribulation embraced by many evangelicals and popularized in the best-selling “Left Behind” books, leaders associated with the New Apostolic Reformation teach that Christ will return not to rescue a defeated church but to rule with a triumphant one. It’s not hard to see how well this “victorious eschatology” aligns with dominionism, “a political theology of power” which Gagné summarizes as the idea that “Christians are called by God to rule (i.e. exercise authority” over all aspects of society by controlling political and cultural institutions.” Readers of Right Wing Watch will recognize this as Seven Mountains Dominionism promoted by Lance Wallnau and other spiritual warriors Gagné writes about.
At a time of increased attention to the rise of more aggressive Christian nationalism in the U.S. during the Trump era, Gagné’s book sheds light on a section of the religious right whose ambitions are global. NAR’s political mission is “no less than the sociopolitical transformation of nations with the goal of bringing about the Kingdom of God on earth,” Gagné writes. Of course, their view of the Kingdom has no room for people who do not share their religious and political worldviews. “Spiritual warfare” must be waged constantly against God’s enemies—which in the U.S. context includes Trump’s opponents—who are under “demonic control.”
As Gagné notes, “This spiritual warfare theology creates conditions which lead to the demonization of peoples, cultures, and political communities.” And that contributes to a toxic political culture in which compromise and pluralism are seen as sinister rather than essential to healthy society and governing, and in which some “prophets” urge people to stockpile weapons and prepare for civil war:
These Charismatic leaders showed unwavering support for Trump and for his policies an viewed any opposition to the former president as spiritual warfare. They stigmatized and delegitimized their critics, claiming their enemies to be under demonic influence. These enemies include political and religious leaders who do not share the same enthusiasm for Trump and his vision for the United States. Some Charismatics have even prophesized the coming of a second American civil war—encouraging Christians to defend themselves against all opposition to Trump and their plan for a Christian hegemony. Many of these Trump-supporting Charismatics view democratic pluralism with suspicion and often try to silence church leaders who disagree with them. Pluralism is simply—and literally—demonized.
Gagné manages in relatively few pages to discuss history, theological concepts like “strategic level spiritual warfare” and “territorial spirits,” and specific prayer networks designed to promote political mobilization, like the One Voice Prayer Movement organized by former Trump aide Paula White-Cain.
In an epilogue that deals with developments since Trump’s refusal to accept his defeat in the 2020 election, Gagné notes that “the former president has the continued support of the most extreme remnant of Christian voters inspired by Charismatic dominionism, modern-day prophecy, and conspiratorial thinking—more specifically those involved in the ReAwaken America Tour,” a road show of conspiracy theorists, Christian nationalists, and MAGA insiders that is traveling the country to radicalize and rally Trump’s base.
“American Evangelicals for Trump” ends with a question about whether the foundations of American democracy will withstand the ongoing assault by Trump and his supporters. This year offers Americans who do not share the dominionists’ vision the opportunity to answer that question in the affirmative—by registering to vote, mobilizing others, campaigning for candidates who embrace pluralism, and supporting organizations like People For the American Way that are defending democracy. The book’s multiple citations to Right Wing Watch reflect the value of our work to journalists and scholars who are seeking to understand the strategies of religious right movements.
Originally published in French and translated into English by Linda Shanahan, “American Evangelicals for Trump” joins a growing list of books by journalists and scholars about dominionism, white Christian nationalism, and conservative Christian support for Trump. Among the others:
- “Unholy: Why White Evangelicals Worship at the Altar of Donald Trump,” by Sarah Posner, 2020
- “White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America,” Anthea Buter, 2021
- “The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism,” by Katherine Stewart, 2022
- “The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism,” Tim Alberta, 2023
- “Preparing for War: The Extremist History of White Christian Nationalism–and What Comes Next,” Bradley Onishi, 2023
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