Christian Nationalists and Dominionists Set Their Sights on California

Christian-nation political operative David Lane. Image from appearance on Glenn Beck Show.

The American Renewal Project, led by Christian nationalist David Lane, is holding all-expenses-paid events for pastors and their wives “up and down the state” of California during the election season, and is currently inviting pastors to attend an event being held in San Diego on September 13 and 14 and one in Costa Mesa in Orange County on September 17 and 18.

Dominionist leader Che Ahn is among the Religious Right figures who have recorded videos urging California pastors to attend Lane’s events. From Che Ahn’s video, in which he says he is sending pastors in his network to both southern California events.

The Lord has given me a strategy to really turn California around. And so we’re trying to rally pastors who would then inform their congregation, to be a transforming agent in California, to make a difference, in this upcoming midterm election but all elections down the road.

Pastor Jack Hibbs of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills is also promoting the events. His video assures pastors that they and their wives can attend for free because the event is “purely brought to you by a host of people who care about California, believers, and they believe in the pastor in the pulpit.” More from Hibbs:

California’s politicians cannot save the state, but you and I can—from the tyranny that is being legislated against our children and against our biblical freedoms right here in the state of California. The hour has fallen to us, pastors, to stand up, and to do what God has called us to do. And that is to be watchmen on the wall as pastors, blowing the trump of warning. But we’re not alone.

Lane, who declared in 2013 that “Christians must be retrained to war for the Soul of America,” has been organizing events since the mid-1990s to encourage conservative evangelical pastors to preach more about politics, to get their congregants more politically engaged, and to run for office. Lane’s “pastors and pews” events have functioned as matchmakers between right-wing politicians and tens of thousands of pastors; and his Issachar trainings have encouraged pastors to run for office themselves.

Lane preaches that the U.S. has a divine mission to glorify God and advance the Christian faith, and he has called the separation of church and state a “lie” and a “fabricated whopper” designed to stop “Christian America—the moral majority—from imposing moral government on pagan public schools, pagan higher learning and pagan media.” He has complained that there was “not a peep from the Christian Church” in response to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, when the church “should have initiated riots, revolution, and repentance.”

Among the scheduled speakers for the California events are American Renewal Project regulars:

  • Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody, who has a long track record of promoting Lane’s events;
  • Right-wing author and video propagandist Dennis Prager;
  • Rob McCoy, Lane’s pastor and a politician who Lane cites as inspiration for his efforts to get more conservative pastors to run for public office and mobilize congregants as volunteers;
  • Ken Graves, a Calvary Chapel pastor from Maine who warns that “militant homofascism” wants to turn America into Sodom and that secular humanists are working with militant Islam to “destroy everything we have” and establish a “secular humanist caliphate”; and
  • “Historian” Bill Federer, a conspiracy theorist who was warning a few years ago that the “atheist homosexual gay agenda movement” would move America “into an Islamic future” and that Muslim refugees and drug dealers were plotting to start riots so that President Obama could set up a “militarized dictatorship.”

Many of the same speakers took part in a David Lane-sponsored event that then-candidate Donald Trump attended in Orlando in August 2016.

In addition to Ahn and Hibbs, videos promoting the California Renewal Project have been cut by Graves and several other Religious Right leaders, including Christian-nation “historian” David Barton; pastor and anti-gay activist Jim Garlow, who led the effort to get churches involved in promoting the anti-marriage-equality Prop 8; pastor Jack Hibbs, who also pushed Prop 8 and sought unsuccessfully to push a referendum against SB 48, legislation regarding the inclusion of LGBT and disabled figures in history. A Spanish-language version features Pastor Netz Gomez.

Below are some excerpts from videos promoting the upcoming California Renewal Project events.

Jim Garlow:

We all know that politicians are not going to save America. Wall Street’s not going to save America. Even our military might will not save America. If America is to be saved, biblical values must be returned and embraced in the public square…The future of California is at stake, and you can make a difference.

David Barton:

If California is to be saved, and if its current direction reversed, biblical values must be re-embraced in the public square, and that’s where we as Christian leaders can play a key role.

Roy McCoy, pastor of Calvary Chapel Thousand Oaks and mayor pro tem of the city, makes a reference to Seven Mountains dominionism in his video:

We’ve made a difference in our own community because we’ve stepped into the public square. In this cultural mountain of influence, we want other pastors to understand we can make a difference in this state.

Ken Graves, Calvary Chapel in Central Maine, appears on several videos, which include these snippets:

My brothers, in the state of California, you’re aware that your state is in great crisis. That crisis is not a political problem, it’s a spiritual, moral problem. You know that. But it does have components that must be addressed by the clear preaching of the word of God. A new etiquette has developed that is not biblical, an etiquette that says something about separation of church and state. Dear brothers, there isn’t anything that the word of God has ever encouraged us to not speak about, or to. We have a commission from God and I encourage you to come and be refreshed at the California Renewal Project as a preacher of God’s word …

California Renewal Project has one focus, and that is to do something about biblical ignorance. Biblical illiteracy is the root of the problem. … Political problems are the fruit of total ignorance. It is ignorance and unbelief that causes people to do down the roads that they go. It’s what causes nations, states, to go in the direction that they go …

Lane’s American Renewal Project has been funded in part by Texas fracking billionaire Dan Wilks, whose Heavenly Father’s Foundation has funneled big contributions to Lane through the American Family Association. The Thirteen Foundation, funded by Dan’s brother Farris Wilks, has also made major contributions to the AFA as well as other Religious Right groups.