Evangelical Trumpers are coming to a church near you

Last week we called your attention to an event at Calvary Chapel-Chino Hills featuring pastor Jack Hibbs and Trump wonder boy Charlie Kirk. Today, I want you to see a video from The River, a Southern Baptist church in Hamilton, Montana.

The video captures a special Saturday night service devoted to “education,” “learning,” and “unity.” The topic is the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The speaker is Dr. Kevin Horton, the director of the Institute for Biblical Authority, “a Biblically based nonprofit organization dedicated to upholding and strengthening the principle that the Bible is the life-changing authority for human lives.” The Institute promotes creationism and recently hosted a conference featuring David Barton. The website includes an “American History Quiz” that repeats the widely debunked, and frankly absurd, claim that 29 of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were “pastors.”

Watch the video of Horton’s appearance at The River Church on the Facebook page of Montana state senator Theresa Manzella or on the church Facebook page.

The video begins with the congregation milling around the sanctuary while a song called “Potter’s Hand” by Hillsong plays over the speakers. Here are the lyrics to that song:

Beautiful Lord, wonderful Savior
I know for sure all of my days are held in Your hand
And crafted into Your perfect plan

You gently called me into Your presence
Guiding me by Your Holy Spirit
Teach me dear Lord, to live all of my life
Through Your eyes

And I’m captured by Your Holy calling
Set me apart, I know You’re drawing me to Yourself
Lead me Lord, I pray

Take me and mold me, use me, fill me
I give my life to the Potter’s hand
Call me, You guide me, lead me, walk beside me
I give my life to the Potter’s hand

You gently call me into Your presence
Guiding me by Your Holy Spirit
Teach me dear Lord, to live all of my life
Through Your eyes

I’m captured by Your Holy calling
Set me apart, I know You’re drawing me to Yourself
Lead me Lord, I pray

Take me and mold me, use me, fill me
I give my life to my Potter’s hand
Call me, guide me, lead me, walk beside me
I give my life to the Potter’s hand

Take me and mold me, use me, fill me
I give my life to the Potter’s hand
Call me, guide me, lead me, walk beside me
I give my life to the Potter’s hand

The display screen at the front of the sanctuary says “Inciting the Riot?”

Horton takes the stage at about the 5:45 mark after pastor Allen James offers a “prayer for the United States of America” in which he asks the Lord to make us “truly be one nation under God again.” (Italics mine). Horton begins by telling the audience how the Lord prompted him to go to Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021 to protest the election results. He laments the fact that social media companies removed Trump from its platforms, closed Parler, and even suspended his own accounts for merely “witnessing to the truth” about what happened in Washington D.C. After taking a few required shots at Congress for impeaching Trump, Horton describes what he saw at the U.S. Capitol.

The central argument of Horton’s presentation is that Trump did not incite the riot on the U.S. Capitol. Horton bases his argument on pictures and videos he took at the insurrection. He tells this evangelical congregation that the rioters were not “true Trumpers” and then attempts to distinguish between the “peaceful” evangelical Trumpers and the evil insurrectionists. (Along the way he takes a shot mask-wearing).

At about the 47:00 mark Horton tells the audience that he is boycotting Amazon, Walmart, and Google until they “repent” for their support of Senators who refuse to investigate who was really behind the insurrection. Then he complains about how CNN is trying to “close down” Newsmax and One America News. Horton speaks in a friendly, easy-going style as he defends these conspiracy theories before an evangelical congregation led by a pastor who provided him with the platform to do this.

At the 52:00 mark he describes the election fraud protests as a “fun time” until the “cloud of evil” emerged in the form of the rioters. (If his pictures are any indication, Horton appears to have spent most of the riot only feet away from the doors of the U.S. Capitol).

Horton ends by telling his pro-Trump evangelical audience that we are now “all targets” and are no longer “safe” as Americans. (The assumption is that the insurrections were a demonic force working against the God-honoring supporters of Donald Trump. He stops just short of saying that the Democrats were somehow behind the insurrection. Or at least that is how I understood him). The only way to find peace and safety, he says, is by accepting Jesus Christ as savior. He then moves into a brief Gospel presentation.

As a fellow evangelical, I am disgusted by the way this man stoked fear, lied about voter fraud, and used his presence at the Capitol insurrection as a platform for preaching the Gospel. Apparently the audience at The River Church disagrees. They gave him a standing ovation. Pastor Allen James endorsed everything Horton said, going so far to tell his congregation that the election was rigged. James then calls his congregation to separate the Gospel from politics. This is admirable. But everything about this event sent the exact opposite message.