Journalists and scholars are increasingly taking note of the role that Christian nationalist ideology and religious-right rhetoric played in the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, sharing information and analysis on Twitter with the hashtag #capitolsiegereligion. Right Wing Watch has extensively documented violent rhetoric from religious-right leaders and at religious-right events both before and after the Nov. 3 election.
Many of former President Donald Trump’s religious-right supporters talked about the election in terms of spiritual warfare and portrayed the 2020 election as a battle between good and evil, between the divinely anointed Trump and his demonic opponents. Rallies and prayer calls held after the election mixed Christian nationalist messages with threats of violence if Trump were not returned to power.
One angle to consider is religious-right leaders’ choice of the violent Bible stories they invoked regarding Trump and the election.
One of the organizations that popped up after Election Day to get Christians in the street protesting “corruption” in the election process was Jericho March. Started by two Trump administration staffers, Jericho March encouraged people to protest at their state capitols and then teamed up with other right-wing activists to co-sponsor events in Washington, D.C., meant to overturn the election results and keep Trump in power.
The group takes its name from a Bible story about the siege of the city of Jericho, in which the biblical figure Joshua leads the Israelite army in a siege of the city, marching around it and blowing shofars—a sort of trumpet made from a ram’s horn—until God caused the walls to crumble. A Dec. 12 rally co-sponsored by Jericho March and Stop the Steal was kicked off with the blowing of shofars by an activist who called the shofar a “spiritual Uzi.”
Jericho March organizers talked about their mission as bringing down walls of corruption that protect the deep state. They didn’t talk about how the Bible story ends: with the slaughter of every man, woman, child, and animal in the city. Only Rahab, who had hidden advance scouts from Joshua, and her family were spared. For years, Christian nationalist operative and GOP activist David Lane has asked for Gideons and Rahabs to stand. (In the biblical story, Gideon was called on by God to destroy the Israelites’ enemies and end the worship of false gods.)
Another biblical figure often invoked by Trump’s religious-right supporters is Jehu.
In the Bible, Jezebel was a wicked queen. Religious-right figures, particularly dominionist Pentecostal “prophets” and writers, often talk about “the Jezebel spirit” as a demonic spirit or group of spirits that promotes radical feminism, sexual immorality, abortion, and a host of other perceived evils. During her campaign for president, Hillary Clinton was often denounced as a Jezebel; that honor has now passed to Vice President Kamala Harris.
In the Bible, Jezebel was killed by Jehu on orders from God delivered through a prophet. Jehu not only took down Jezebel, he also oversaw the slaughter of all of her late husband Ahab’s family, friends, nobles, and priests. Many religious-right figures have declared Trump to be a Jehu as well as a Cyrus.
Dominionist Ché Ahn, a leader of the New Apostolic Reformation, invoked Jehu at a pro-Trump rally the day before the attack on the Capitol:
This is the most important week in America’s history. It’s the most consequential week. And I believe that this week we’re gonna throw Jezebel out and Jehu’s gonna rise up and we’re gonna rule and reign through President Trump and under the lordship of Jesus Christ. … We are here to change history!
End Times author Jonathan Cahn compared Trump to Jehu is his best-selling book, “The Paradigm,” in which he said that Trump’s victory was foretold in the biblical story. During a promotional tour for the book in 2017, he said Bill and Hillary Clinton played the roles of Ahab and Jezebel while Trump was Jehu and Trump’s moves to restrict access to abortion were the equivalent of Jehu’s ending Baal worship and child sacrifice. “He wins and Jehu heads to the capital city,” Cahn said. “Why does he head to the capital city? To drain the swamp!”
Religious-right author Michael Brown devoted a whole book to the topic of Jezebel in which he described Trump as a Jehu, a warrior “standing with and for evangelical Christians,” “supporting the prophets of God,” and fighting the Jezebel spirit. A press release promoting Brown’s book noted that other authors had made the Trump-Jehu comparison, adding, “both leaders were outsiders who wanted to rid their nations of corruption through unconventional methods. Both were fighters, and neither were politicians, nor did they live godly lives. And both wanted to shake up the status quo.” In his book, Brown was careful to say that he was not calling for violence against his political opponents.
Dominionist Lou Engle, part of the Trump-supporting POTUS Shield network, invoked Jehu when praying that God would knock off Supreme Court justices and give Trump more vacancies to fill with anti-abortion judges. Two months after Trump took office, Engle told Christians not to be squeamish about such prayers:
I tell you, the church can’t be humanistic right now. I feel this in my spirit. We’re so concerned about these Hamans [the evil adviser to the king in the biblical book of Esther] that we’re not concerned about the millions of babies! I say that we believe that Donald Trump, President Trump, is a Jehu as well as a Cyrus. And I’ve been praying, “Remove the house of Ahab.”
Engle is not the only religious-right figure to invoke Haman, the evil character in the biblical story of Esther who was plotting to kill all the Jews living in the kingdom of Persia before Esther intervened with her husband the king. Haman was killed on the gallows he had built to kill Jews.
Last June, Rick Wiles said on his “TruNews” program that he hoped Trump would use the military to quell protests over the killing of George Floyd, arrest liberal leaders, and send them to Guantanamo Bay:
“We were concerned as conservatives that you’re going to have a far-left regime in power that is going to try to round up conservatives, confiscate guns, put people in detention centers, and so forth,” Wiles said. “You know what? This is turning out to be Haman’s gallows. What they planned for the church, for conservatives, for patriots, what they planned is going to be flipped around on them.”
In 2019, radical religious-right podcaster Chris McDonald said Democrats who launched an impeachment inquiry against Trump were displaying a “Haman spirit” and predicted that it would lead to their destruction:
“A Haman spirit that is operating in the Democratic Party tonight, it’s going to be reversed,” he said. “The gallows that they are preparing for Donald Trump, there is going to be somebody in their own party that is going to hang on those gallows. You mark that word down tonight. I feel that word prophetically, I feel it spiritually, I feel it without blinking an eye. … The Democratic Party is preparing the table for their own destruction, not President Trump’s.”
During a September 2020 call hosted by POTUS Shield’s Frank Amedia, evangelist Pat Schatzline talked about preaching recently at the Marine Corps base Camp Lejeune. “We’re about to see the army of nobodies rise up, the sons and daughters. … God said, ‘Tell them that I am in the midst of this, tell them I am redeeming the ground.’”
“I heard the Lord say to me yesterday, ‘I am preparing Haman’s gallows,’” Schatzline said, adding that God would be exposing things about the Democratic Party before the election so voters would no longer support them. “Those that don’t shift, they will hang on the political gallows,” Schatzline said.
Like other Pentecostal leaders who view politics as spiritual warfare and portrayed the 2020 election as a battle between good and evil, Amedia is not shy about violent rhetoric.
He portrayed the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a “move of God” and part of a coming divine “blast” that would ensure Trump’s reelection, and that God was in a mood to take vengeance for abortion in America. “Some people just may not make it to the end of this election,” he said, warning that “this is not a time to mess with God. God is moving, and he’s gonna steamroll some people.”
“This isn’t a time for mushy-wushy Christianity—you know, ‘Kumbayah, we love everybody,’” Amedia said. “But you know, sometimes God takes the hammer out. And I’m telling you, in this epic time that he’s going with right now, you don’t want to get in the way of this move of God. This isn’t a time to touch the anointed of God. … You don’t want to do that. God is gonna steamroll.”