A new and rapidly growing Christian movement is openly political, wants a nation under God’s authority, and is central to Donald Trump’s GOP, as reported by Stephanie McCrummer in the Washington Post.
The Mercy Culture Church in Fort Worth, Texas represents a rapidly growing kind of Christianity in the United States, one whose goal includes bringing under the authority of a biblical God every facet of life, from schools to city halls to Washington, where the pastor had traveled a month after the Jan. 6 insurrection and filmed himself in front of the U.S. Capitol saying quietly, “Father, we declare America is yours.”
The pastor stands in front of the glowing map, a 38-year-old White man in skinny jeans telling a congregation of some 1,500 people what he said the Lord had told him: that Fort Worth was in thrall to four “high-ranking demonic forces.” That all of America was in the grip of “an anti-Christ spirit.”
That the Lord had told him that 2021 was going to be the “Year of the Supernatural,” a time when believers would rise up and wage “spiritual warfare” to advance God’s Kingdom.
The movement includes some of the largest congregations in the nation, housed in the husks of old Baptist churches, former big-box stores and sprawling multimillion-dollar buildings with private security to direct traffic on Sundays.
Its most successful leaders are considered apostles and prophets, including some with followings in the hundreds of thousands, publishing empires, TV shows, vast prayer networks, podcasts, spiritual academies, and branding in the form of T-shirts, bumper stickers and even flags.
It is a world in which demons are real, miracles are real, and the ultimate mission is not just transforming individual lives but also turning civilization itself into their version of God’s Kingdom: one with two genders, no abortion, a free-market economy, Bible-based education, church-based social programs and laws such as the ones curtailing LGBTQ rights now moving through statehouses around the country.
This is the world of Trump’s spiritual adviser Paula White and many more lesser-known but influential religious leaders who prophesied that Trump would win the election and helped organize nationwide prayer rallies in the days before the Jan. 6 insurrection, speaking of an imminent “heavenly strike” and “a Christian populist uprising,” leading many who stormed the Capitol to believe they were taking back the country for God.
Even as mainline Protestant and evangelical denominations continue an overall decline in numbers in a changing America, nondenominational congregations have surged from being virtually nonexistent in the 1980s to accounting for roughly 1 in 10 Americans in 2020, according to long-term academic surveys of religious affiliation.
Church leaders tend to attribute the growth to the power of an uncompromised Christianity. Experts seeking a more historical understanding point to a relatively recent development called the New Apostolic Reformation, or NAR.