Religious-right groups are making a last-minute push to turn out conservative evangelical voters for Donald Trump by sharing a Virginia pastor’s sermon that denounces the Democratic Party as evil and demonic and warns evangelical Christians that if they don’t get more involved in politics, they will allow Muslims and secular humanists to shape the country.
In the sermon video, Pastor Gary Hamrick of Cornerstone Chapel in Leesburg, Virginia, calls the election a “spiritual war” and says politicians who are “advancing a godless agenda” are “pawns of darkness.” Hamrick was one of the religious-right leaders who attended President Donald Trump’s speech at the White House in August accepting the Republican nomination for president.
Hamrick’s sermon is being promoted by White House aide Paula White’s Once Voice Prayer Movement, a political outreach project of the Trump White House in the guise of an online prayer group. One Voice Prayer Movement promotes dominionist leaders and Christian nationalist rhetoric, and White, herself, has a habit of portraying Trump’s political opponents as demonic.
Unlike most OVPM “prayer alerts”—in effect press releases promoting Trump and his administration—the promotion of Hamrick’s sermon didn’t bother to couch it as a “prayer request” or “prayer need” by the White House. The video was simply sent with a note praising its “boldness and clarity” and urging people to share it.
Closely aligned with One Voice Prayer Movement is Intercessors for America, a group of pro-Trump “prayer warriors” whose leader Dave Kubal helps run OVPM. IFA, whose monthly prayer calls regularly feature right-wing politicians, is also actively promoting Hamrick’s sermon with a five-day “sharing campaign” that began Saturday. IFA is sending its intercessors daily emails encouraging them to share selected clips from Hamrick’s sermon along with a link to copy of the full sermon published on IFA’s YouTube channel.
Hamrick’s sermon began with a dramatic build-up to those sitting in the pews as he delivered it. He said that some people might become so angry that they would leave the church. And he claimed that local law enforcement and state troopers were “stationed throughout the congregation” to enforce Virginia law against disrupting a religious service.
He told congregants that he is not angry with them personally, adding:
But I am angry with the spiritual forces of evil that have hijacked the hearts and minds of people in an effort to try to capture the soul of America. And I’m angry with demonic principalities, and by extension demonic principles that have influenced millennials, Gen Xers, and Gen Zers with godless philosophies and the doctrines of men. I am angry with politicians who are either knowingly or unknowingly pawns of darkness, instead of agents of light, who are advancing a godless agenda that is destructive to our country. And thus, I cannot be silent, I will not be silent and neither should you. America needs to wake up, and it starts with the church of Jesus Christ.
We need to wake up, Christian. We, we need to wake up, Christian. This is a battle. This is a war. This is not a game. It’s a spiritual battle that we are facing for the heart and soul of America and for the heart and soul of the next generation.
Hamrick grounded his sermon in the biblical book of Jeremiah, a prophet who warned of God’s wrath on nations that reject his law. He said the U.S. is at a crossroads, adding that if the body of Christ would get its collective act together and honor God “in this election cycle,” then perhaps God will have mercy on the country.
Hamrick rejected the “pushback” against what he calls his Election Day sermons from people who think pastors should keep politics out of the pulpit. Channeling religious-right pseudo-historian David Barton, Hamrick offered a presentation on pastors “leading the charge” in the Revolutionary War and at other moments in history. And he had a question for his congregants:
Okay, so let me ask you a question. Don’t you think that Rep. Ilhan Omar integrates her faith and politics? Don’t you think that Rashida Tlaib integrates her faith and politics? You better believe it. In fact, for those of you who are not aware, Joe Biden has already publicly declared that he will be adding Muslims to his administration. Listen to him yourself.
Hamrick showed a video that included Joe Biden speaking to Muslims and clips from a civic participation campaign encouraging American Muslims to vote. Hamrick claimed he was not sharing the video to disparage Muslim Americans, who also have freedom to worship in the U.S. But, he added:
Well, what I am saying is that if as Christians, somehow you believe the lie that faith and politics don’t mix, that pastors should stay out of that—it’s just too divisive—then by your apathy and your reluctance, you are actually helping to advance the doctrine and dogma of other world religions and of secular humanism, to influence this nation, rather than the values and virtues of Christianity. That’s what’s happening. Wake up! They’re not asleep. They’re not asleep. Why are Christians asleep today when it comes to this? Now, the fact is that only in recent times, have pastors kowtowed to political correctness, and remained silent or indifferent about faith and politics.
Hamrick read from a prayer guide distributed by Intercessors for America that contrasts positions in the Republican and Democratic Party platforms. He highlighted the Democratic Party’s—and the Biden-Harris ticket’s—support for LGBTQ equality. He said the Democratic platform’s call for “shared prosperity” is “political speak” for socialism. He praised Trump as the “most pro-life” and “most pro-Israeli” president the U.S. has ever had. He played a short video clip from a Trump speech in which Trump said “you still need help from the boss”—meaning God—and joked that he’s not the most famous person in the world because Jesus Christ is.
Hamrick told the Democrats in his congregation that theirs is no longer the party of FDR, JFK, or even Bill Clinton.
Listen to me, I’m going to speak truth to you. If you are a lifelong Democrat, your party has left you. Your party has left you. That ship has sailed. It’s true. I used to believe that the two-party system in America was much like a husband and a wife in a marriage, just differences. Just, you know, different people with different approaches and different perspectives but who shared a common goal and vision in life. And so, therefore, you could learn from each other’s different perspective, and you would balance each other out. I don’t believe that anymore. I believe that there is a liberal progressive agenda influenced by spiritual forces of evil, that if allowed to progress will be the demise of America. I believe it with all my heart. And while people are sitting around, foolishly talking about how they don’t like Trump’s tweets and his unfiltered style and his checkered past, meanwhile, the enemy is roaming around like a roaring lion looking for a nation to devour.
I know Trump is not going to win Miss Congeniality. Get over it! It’s not about personality. It’s about guardians of what is true and what is right in our day. That’s what we need to be concerned about.
Donald Trump is not our savior. Joe Biden is not our savior. Jesus Christ is our savior, and because he is my Savior, as for me in my house, I cannot, I will not vote for a candidate whose party platform advocates the murder of unborn babies, embraces same-sex marriage, encourages transgender behavior, and ignores God and his word in our culture.
I cannot. I will not. Cannot. Will not. Amen.
Listen, if you in good conscience cannot vote for Donald Trump, then don’t. But I don’t know how in good conscience a Christian can vote for an agenda that is evil.
Hamrick called a church that is “silent about the moral issues of our day “complicit in the evil,” like Christians in Nazi Germany that did not resist the regime’s persecution of Jews.
Hamrick’s sermon was posted on YouTube Oct. 18. As of Monday morning Oct. 26, it had nearly 140,000 views; a copy of the video posted by Intercessors for America had another 25,000 views.