These Pastors Are Telling People Trump Is Still President and Are Ready for War - DMT NEWS

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These Pastors Are Telling People Trump Is Still President and Are Ready for War

Pastor Ken Peters believes he’s on a mission from God—with a Trumpian twist: Besides preaching Bible verses and tending to his flock in Tennessee, he’s spreading the lie that former President Donald Trump had the 2020 election stolen from him.

Peters is the head of a year-old movement called the Patriot Church, a network of four—soon to be six—churches that appear to put the worship of Trump on par with worshipping God.

To accomplish his primary mission of putting Christianity back at the heart of American life, Peters looks to the past for inspiration. He’s guided by the words of the Founding Fathers, for example, but he also takes inspiration from a group of radical preachers known as the Black-Robed Regiment.

During the Revolutionary War, these pastors “arose and led their congregations into the battle for freedom,” according to a website dedicated to a modern-day version of the organization.

However, just like Peters’ surefire belief that the election was stolen from Trump last year, his belief that pastors took up arms and led a violent revolution against the British is equally baseless.

The mythic Black-Robed Regiment is a fiction. The belief that there were groups of Christian ministers who took up arms against the British and led their congregants to war is based on thinly sourced and misinterpreted stories. The claims made by those who ascribe to the Black-Robed Regiment today have been widely debunked, and even the name itself is a misquotation.

But fictitious or not, Peters and a growing number of pastors like him are now using the myth of the Black-Robed Regiment as a rallying cry, spreading the lie about stolen elections to inflame and incite their congregations to be prepared for a coming civil war, a battle of good versus evil where they fight back against what they see as the tyranny of the left.

“If the truth is suppressed and covered up, then that ultimately will lead to violence,” Peters told VICE News. “It could end up bad, you know, a lot of things end up rough and violent. We hope it doesn't, but we can't be so afraid of a violent outcome that we allow the left to cheat their way to destroying this country.”

Peters is among a growing cohort of radical and extreme pastors who, inspired by Trump, embrace conspiracy theories and blast lies and disinformation from the pulpit. For these pastors, the divide between church and state doesn’t exist. They see their role as one of a wartime general fighting against everything from President Joe Biden, to critical race theory, to gay marriage, abortion, and transgender rights. And increasingly, they see violence as an inevitable outcome.

“I don't want a civil war, but we've got to stand up for what we believe in,” Peters said.

Peters, a fifth-generation preacher based in Knoxville, Tennessee, founded the Patriot Church movement back in September 2020 because he saw the country moving further and further away from its origins as a Christian nation, fueled by a perceived censorship of conservative opinion.

“If we don't speak, then the other side, the left, controls the narrative,” Peters said. “I mean, they are the mainstream media, they own Facebook, they own Twitter. They own so many things and they control the narrative. And if the preachers don't speak, my goodness, that's all we got.”

While the Christian nationalist movement, which asserts that the United States was founded as a Christian state and that Christianity should be restored to the heart of government, education, and other areas of society,  has been around for some time, Peters looked to the man in the White House for inspiration about how to change the narrative.

“I think Trump exposed some of the silent culture war that was going on. When he came into the presidency, I think he exposed what was happening underneath. And so I think President Trump was a part of me establishing this movement called Patriot Church,” Peters said. 

Like the wider Christian nationalist movement, Peters wants to see a return to the value he believes the Founding Fathers built the country on and inscribed in the Constitution. As the number of people who identify as white evangelicals continues to dwindle, Peters feels compelled to speak out from the pulpit. 

But he believes that the majority of pastors in the evangelical community are simply too afraid to speak up.

“I think most preachers are weak and spineless and they should be leading the Girl Scouts and not being behind pulpits.” Peters said. “I think today is the day where we need preachers with a backbone, with the courage to say what we believe, the foundation of our nation was based on Judeo-Christian values, and we let that slip away, I think much in part because of spineless, weak, and fearful cowardly preachers.”

Peters describes his organization as a “turnkey operation” for pastors who are willing to get on-board the Trump train, and preach from the pulpit that the “Trump was ripped off of the last election.”

For a 10% cut of church earnings, Peters will bring pastors into the fold, promote their churches, help them with tax filings as well as ensuring they’re sticking to the narrative he wants to promote. 

Today, in addition to Peters’ home church in Knoxville, Tennessee, there are two Patriot Church campuses in Washington state, in Spokane and Moses Lake, and one in Lynchburg, Virginia. 

Peters said he was getting ready to bring two more Patriot Church locations into the fold next month, adding that a lot more pastors want to get on board.

“I'm getting emails every day from pastors that want to be a part of this movement, so a remnant is arising. The two things the left fears the most are the words patriot and church, so at least we hope to make them a little bit.”

While Peters’ operation is still relatively small, he is not alone in his effort to use Trump’s lie about stolen elections to incite his congregation to take action to wrest back control of the nation.

In August, far-right preacher and founder of America’s Church, Pastor Joshua Feuerstein, organized America Revival, which was a mixture of tent revival, megachurch showcase, and political rally. During the event, Feuerstein dismissed President Biden as a senile old man, and compared Vice President Kamala Harris to Jezebel. 

To hammer home the election fraud conspiracy, a group of women dressed in shirts that spelled out “TRUMP WON” posed for photographs with attendees.

At another point, the head of a pro-Trump insurance company told those attending that they would win an AR-15 assault rifle just by texting their number to his company: “You come to worship Jesus and leave with a gun,” he told worshippers according to a report by Religion News. “Amen.”

Also in attendance at the America’s Revival festival was Greg Locke, head of the Global Vision Bible Church in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, just a couple of hours east of Peters’ church in Knoxville.

Locke has gained notoriety—and a Twitter ban—for spouting conspiracy theories about the election and QAnon from his pulpit to an increasingly large congregation.

While Peters says he doesn’t know anything about QAnon and hasn’t discussed it with Locke, he is still willing to believe. “Greg Locke is my best friend,” Peters said. “If he's saying that stuff and he says he has evidence, I believe him.”

Locke is also an adherent to the Black-Robed Regiment movement and while it is based on events that never really happened, it has been percolating among right-wing evangelicals for some time now.

The modern-day movement began back in 2007, when Chuck Baldwin, a Florida pastor, launched his own version of the Black-Robed Regiment, promising a right-wing return to a fictitious 18th-century world.

Then the movement gained steam when it was discussed by Glenn Beck, the conservative political commentator and conspiracy theorist, and evangelical Christian political activist David Barton.

Barton also wrote an article entitled “The Original Black Robe Regiment” but according to historian JL Bell, Barton is “notorious for distorting historical evidence to support his Christianist view of the American Revolution.” Bell dissected Barton’s evidence for claiming the Black-Robed Regiment existed and found it didn’t hold water

But the myth has persisted and today there are a number of Black Robed Regiment groups dotted across the U.S. 

One of the most prominent is led by Pastor Dan Fisher, who dresses like a Revolutionary War soldier and like Peters, argues that pastors should preach patriotism from the pulpit and take up arms and lead their congregations to war to defend those ideals.

Fisher recently spoke at a conference organized by the Rod of Iron Ministries, the Unification Church-spinoff where congregants worship with AR-15 and which has just bought a sizeable plot of land in Tennessee to build a training center.

The head of the church, Pastor Hyung Jin “Sean” Moon, has also been seen wearing a biker jacket with a patch Black Robed Regiment written on it.

Meanwhile, Pastor Bill Cook leads another group, called America’s Black Robe Regiment. Cook gained notoriety last year when, weeks before the Captiol riots, he wore an Oath Keepers T-shirt while speaking at a pro-Trump “prayer rally” on the National Mall organized by Jericho March—a pro-Trump Christian group focused on “election integrity”—and Stop the Steal. Hours later on the same stage, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes threatened bloody civil war if Trump did not stay in power.

While previous incarnations of the Black-Robed Regiment have been viewed as some sort of live action role-playing escapade, following the attack on the Capitol, where dozens of insurrectionists help his signs with Chritsian messages, the threat posed by these pastors is obvious to experts.

“This ‘Black-Robed Regiment’ routine—dressing in the garb of the Revolutionary era and specifically evoking the image of American ministers waging that war—is not passive historical cosplay. It is advocacy for insurrection,” Thomas Lecaque, an associate professor of history at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa and J L Tomlin, a lecturer of early American history at the University of North Texas, wrote this week in the Washington Post.

But not everyone agrees that preachers like Peters and Locke pose a threat to the evangelical community and wider society.

“I think they're not only in the minority, I think they're an anomaly. In fact, I'm finding the exact opposite is taking place,” Ralph Reed, the evangelical leader who headed up the Christian Coalition through the early 1990s, told VICE News.

Reed, who is now chairman of the influential Faith and Freedom Coalition lobbying group, pledged loyalty to Trump immediately after he nabbed the Republican nomination in 2016. Together with other evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell Jr., Robert Jeffress and Paula White, he became a key part in securing the white evangelical voting bloc for the president.

Now, following Trump’s defeat, he wants to reframe the conversation about evangelicals away from the former president’s spreading of conspiracies and lies related to election fraud, and focus instead on the positive work happening in evangelical churches across the country.

And while Reed is certainly correct in his assertion that pastors like Peters are way in the minority, his claim that he has not heard people talking about Christian nationalist ideas, election fraud lies, or QAnon conspiracies in his group’s dealings with “tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people” in the community, seems strange.

A recent survey by the Washington-based Public Religion Research Institute found that a quarter of all white evangelical Protestants agree that the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles—a key QAnon conspiracy.

And as Trump and his acolytes in the GOP continue to undermine democracy across the country, the former president has found a willing ally in Peters and the Patriot Church, who have been utterly convinced that the election was a fraud—and are more than happy to spread that lie to their congregation.

“Very soon the whole country is going to find out that Trump actually won, and he's actually the legitimate president of the United States,” Peters said. “We’ll see Trump back in the White House before Biden's four-year term is done.”



via https://www.DMT.NEWS

David Gilbert, Khareem Sudlow