On/File: A Continuing Record of Groups, Movements, Events, and People Impacting Contemporary Religion

The recent formation of the Patriot Church network illustrates the intense support a large segment of the evangelical world has given to Donald Trump that may outlast his presidency if he loses the election. The Patriot Church was founded on the weekend of September 11 by Ken Peters, a pastor in Spokane, Washington, to galvanize evangelicals around the Trump agenda. One of the reasons he started the group was his disturbance at evangelical leaders, such as the pastor and theologian John Piper, who has criticized the strong identification with Trump and his brand of nationalism by many evangelicals. The services stress the importance of patriotism and Christian right politics along with Christian commitment and condemns the Democrats and the political left in general for disloyalty and subverting the nation. So far, the non-denominational congregations only number up to four—two near Liberty University in Virginia, one in Knoxville, Tenn., and the other in Spokane, but more are reported to be in formation. The services show many of the features of non-denominational worship, while the sermons carry a stronger political edge. Members and leaders uphold pro-gun rights, religious freedom under perceived restrictions and even persecution of Christians, especially during the pandemic, and the importance of defeating of the Democrats. Members (including the sister of conservative political leader Newt Gingrich) say they were drawn to the churches for their outspoken stances compared with the evangelical churches they attended. The health precautions taken during the pandemic, such as wearing face masks, are often condemned and ridiculed. Peters is quick to disassociate his network from the larger patriotic movement based on white supremacy and separatism. (Source: Washington Post, October 26, 2020)