Christian nationalist pastor Brian Gibson, an active participant in the March for Trump effort to overturn the results of the presidential election, says that “leftists” and the media are persecuting the church by falsely blaming Christians for the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Gibson says that he and his wife have been inundated with death threats after online activists circulated a selfie that he says he took at an Arizona event with a costumed activist who later became notorious as the Q Shaman over his conspicuous role in the storming of the Capitol. On Jan. 6, Gibson says, he and his wife went to Trump’s rally on the Ellipse near the White House but returned to their hotel, where they heard about people breaking into the Capitol.
Gibson oversees churches in Kentucky and Texas and was one of the pastors who infused March for Trump’s rallies with religious purpose. He portrayed the effort as a campaign to defend religious freedom and the First Amendment. Gibson has called COVID-19-related restrictions on churches “tyrannical” and urged pastors and congregations to defy them.
At a Jan. 5 rally at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., that mixed support for Trump with evangelization and threats of violence, Gibson spoke more than once, delivering a Christian nationalist message and talking about his efforts to resist pandemic restrictions on churches. Here’s part of the message he delivered:
It’s time to push back. Let me tell you, politicians don’t tell prophets what to do. But prophets tell politicians what to do. I said politicians don’t tell prophets what to do. But prophets tell politicians what to do. And I’m telling every unconstitutional politician, you better back up, you better take your hand off the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. You better get out of our way. Because, come on, America did not build the church. I said America did not build the church. I said America did not build the church. America did not build the church. But the church built America, amen?
At that rally, Gibson was one of several speakers who talked about the “black robe regiment”—colonial-era preachers who roused men in their congregations to support the revolution against England. “This nation is founded in the word of God,” he said. “It is a Christian nation.”
He asked pastors in the crowd to join him in swearing an oath:
Today, I take an oath to follow Jesus Christ of Nazareth, to serve the kingdom of God, to be committed to the scriptures, to live a holy lifestyle, and to stand for the church. The church is the pillar and the ground of the truth.
And if Jesus is my king, then my nation is my responsibility. So I receive my responsibility. And I will never wear a yellow robe. I will only wear the black robe, and I will stand for liberty. I will stand for freedom. I will stand for America. I swear before you and I swear before these people, that I will protect this nation and the Constitution as a leader of the people of God’s.
And now as a minister, I lead sheep, I feed sheep, and I kill wolves.
He made a similar call for “black robe preachers” to defy “tyrannical” pandemic restrictions and “lead the Christian Army” at a March for Trump rally in D.C. in December. He had appeared in a video with hard-right pastor Greg Locke urging pastors and churchgoers to attend that rally. “We’re gonna celebrate Jesus, and we’re gonna celebrate what this nation was founded on, and that is the word of God, which became our U.S. Constitution and our Bill of Rights,” Gibson said.
In late December, Gibson posted a video from a March for Trump stop in Phoenix, inviting people to come to Washington on Jan. 6. He said it was “disturbing” that Democratic leaders had written a memo that “called white Christian nationalists the greatest terroristic threat in America” and called for funds to be set aside for their deradicalization. He called it a “play on the church,” adding, “It’s racist, number one, it’s anti-religious, number two, and it’s just un-American. We’re not gonna stand for it. We’re going to push back. … Let’s shake D.C. on the 6th and let America know we still care about our First Amendment rights. … God bless ya. Keep your gloves up.”
In a video distributed on Signal recently, Gibson and his wife spoke from an “undisclosed location” about being “under attack.” They claimed that everything the media has said about them is a lie. And they sought contributions to Gibson’s group Peaceably Gather to pay for the security he says he now needs for his family and churches. His wife claimed that at one point his son had been whisked away to a safe place and believed that his parents were dead. “No American child whose family is good, Christian, wholesome people should have to ever go through that kind of terror,” she said.
They also projected defiance. “Our life won’t change a bit, because all we do is preach the gospel, help people, love people and we’re never going to stop doing that,” Gibson’s wife said. Gibson added:
Listen, those of you that have threatened me. I’m gonna keep preaching the gospel. I’ll stand for the First Amendment. You can cancel people, but the Bible shows me if you cancel somebody, God’ll put ‘em in a tomb and resurrect ‘em on the third day. Listen, you cut me down, my God will raise me up. I am not afraid of you.
The mood in America is “unprecedented,” he said, adding, “It’s time for us to stand up and to push back.”
“Listen, we used to go, people used to go to Russia, China to minister the gospel,” he said. “Now it feels like Russia and China have come to us. We better stand up. We better do something. We better act, or our kids will not be raised in the America that we were raised in.”
Gibson had delivered a similar message at a rally at the Alamo at the end of December, where he declared, “American men better start acting like American men! Or we’ll be living under a regime like Chinese men.” He added, “And I’m not going to live under a communist regime. I’m not going to live under a Marxist regime.”
Gibson said he has preached in repressive countries, and the only thing separating the U.S. from countries where churches are forced to gather underground and worship in fear is the First Amendment. He added, “I believe the First Amendment is worth fighting for. I believe it’s worth standing for. I believe it’s worth praying for. I believe it’s worth fasting for. I believe it’s worth dying for.”
At the Jan. 5 rally, Gibson said that Jesus Christ “is not just a lamb, he is also the lion of the tribe of Judah.”
“We’re in an hour in America right now, where we don’t just need lambs. I’m telling you, we need lions to take back this republic,” Gibson said, adding, “America is going to remain a Christian nation.”
On Jan. 18, right-wing conspiracy theorist Matt Couch, who also goes by The D.C. Patriot,” streamed a long interview with Gibson. Gibson told Couch that he would love to see some kind of “Hail Mary touchdown pass” before Inauguration Day that would keep Trump in power. But he urged people to stay away from the inauguration and state capitols and let things calm down, saying that the nation “desperately needs healing.”
Gibson said that “antifa” was among those responsible for the storming of the Capitol and that there must have been some complicit insiders for them to be able to get as far as they did. He acknowledged that “some Trump supporters that might be a little bit simple got caught up in it and went in there as well.” (While it seems likely that some Trump supporters did get caught up in the moment, Gibson’s description conflicts with evidence revealed in post-insurrection investigations and indictments that leaders of the assault were Trump supporters who planned and armed themselves with deadly intention.)
Gibson claimed that the media, leftists and Marxists are using the insurrection to vilify Trump supporters and justify persecution of Christians:
And they’re calling us nationalists. They’re calling us Christian white supremacists. They’ve taken every opportunity to try to hammer the church and to pin this on Christians. And I’ll tell you, it’s religious persecution. It’s targeting. It is Marxist agenda. It’s right out of the Marxist playbook. They got what they wanted, and now they’re trying to capitalize on it.
Gibson predicted that Americans would resist such efforts, telling Couch, “The devil always overplays his hand”:
We’re not just in a natural normal battle here. This is a spiritual battle. And it’s a battle for the heart and the soul of America. America—I say it like this: Israel is the nation that God chose. But America is the nation that chose God. Right? We chose God in our founding, our framers of the Constitution, theologically trained, many of them preachers, Christian worldview, you read through the founding documents, the documents of the framers, you can see Genesis through Revelation on that paper, and that’s why America works. They were inspired by God, by the scriptures. That’s why we have this constitutional republic. And that’s why the leftists hate the idea of a constitutional republic, and they hate our Constitution, but they always overplay their hand.
Gibson said that he believed leftist overreach would result in “a coming together of conservative minds to stand up for one another.”