Many conservative evangelical supporters of President Donald Trump, including those who have been celebrating the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a “move of God,” will be gathering this weekend on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., online, and in thousands of locations around the world for “The Return,” an event they believe will lead to the reelection of the “anointed” Trump and spark a national and global End Times spiritual revival.
The event will kick off with an evening worship session Friday night—dubbed “The Return Eve: Next Generation”—and will pick up again Saturday morning for a day-long event that organizers say will be the largest global gathering in the history of Christendom. The keynote event, a new “prophetic word” from best-selling End Times author Jonathan Cahn, who called for the gathering in March, is scheduled for 11 a.m. to noon. Not coincidentally, the latest in Cahn’s series of books connecting current events to biblical prophecy was released this month, called “Harbinger II: The Return.”
“The Return” is billed as a moment for national and global repentance, and its promotion has been inextricably tied to U.S. politics, the importance of the Nov. 3 elections, and a Christian nationalist view that the U.S. must return to God and to what organizers call its biblical “foundation stone.” Mark Gonzales, a Republican political operative, said during an April online event promoting “The Return” that spiritual revival will hinge on the church’s political engagement. “Revival is not coming through the prayer closet, revival’s coming through the ballot box,” he said.
High among the stated reasons for “national” repentance in the U.S. are legal abortion, support for marriage equality, and the “removal” of God from public schools and the public square. Organizers bill this moment, and the coming election, as a “life or death” chance for Americans to escape even worse divine judgment than we are already experiencing.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson will speak at the event and represent the Trump administration.
Participating religious-right leaders include the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, Jerry Boykin, and Pierre Bynum; Charisma Media’s relentlessly Trump-promoting Stephen Strang; pro-Trump prayer warrior Dave Kubal, a close associate of White House aide Paula White; movement elders James Dobson and Pat Robertson; and Republican politicians like Rep. Michael Cloud of Texas, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and former Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.
Figuring prominently among event organizers and participants is POTUS Shield, a “prophetic” network of dominionist leaders formed with the purpose of supporting Trump’s “anointed” presidency. POTUS Shield’s founder, former Trump campaign aide Frank Amedia, has been promoting the event while celebrating Ginsburg’s death and warning that God is not done taking out pro-choice leaders. Other POTUS Shield leaders taking part include Cahn’s co-organizer Kevin Jessip, Boykin, Gonzales, anti-choice activist Alveda King, anti-LGBTQ activist Harry Jackson, and prayer warriors Lou Engle, Herman Martir, Pat Schatzline.
Also speaking Saturday morning is Ché Ahn, a California-based pastor and leader of the New Apostolic Reformation, a Pentecostal movement that seeks to transform Christianity and bring nations into alignment with its biblical worldview in order to help speed the return of Jesus Christ.
Franklin Graham, another prominent evangelical Trump supporter, is organizing a “prayer march” that will also be taking place on the National Mall Saturday. Graham has said that it is not a political event, but in a video he released Friday promoting the march, he noted that Trump will be announcing his Supreme Court pick this weekend. “There are those that would like to tear this nation apart to keep a conservative justice off the bench,” Franklin said, praising Trump for appointing conservative justices and adding, “We now need to pray that God will just watch over, protect him.”