An annual report from the Southern Poverty Law Center describes a burgeoning new form of Christian supremacy sweeping the country.

A growing Christian supremacist movement that labels its perceived enemies as “demonic” and enjoys close ties to major Republican figures is “the greatest threat to American democracy you’ve never heard of,” according to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The SPLC, a civil rights organization that monitors extremist groups, released its “Year In Hate And Extremism 2023” report on Tuesday. A significant portion of the report, which tracked burgeoning anti-democratic and neo-fascist movements and actors across America, is devoted to the New Apostolic Reformation, “a new and powerful Christian supremacy movement that is attempting to transform culture and politics in the U.S. and countries across the world into a grim authoritarianism.”

Emerging out of the charismatic evangelical tradition, the NAR adheres to a form of Christian dominionism, meaning its parishioners believe it’s their divine duty to seize control of every political and cultural institution in America, transforming them according to a fundamentalist interpretation of scripture.

NAR adherents also believe in the existence of modern-day “apostles” and “prophets” — church leaders endowed by God with supernatural abilities, including the power to heal. In 2022, a handful of these “apostles,” the report notes, issued what they called the Watchman Decree, an anti-democratic document envisioning the end of a pluralistic society in America.

The apostles claimed they had been given “legal power and authority from Heaven” and are “God’s ambassadors and spokespeople over the earth,” who “are equipped and delegated by Him to destroy every attempted advance of the enemy.”

And who’s the enemy? Basically anyone who does not adhere to NAR beliefs. NAR adherents see their critics as being literally controlled by the devil.

“There are claims that whole neighborhoods, cities, even nations are under the sway of the demonic,” the report states. “Other religions, such as Islam, are also said to be demonically influenced. One cannot compromise with evil, and so if Democrats, liberals, LGBTQ+ people, and others are seen as demonic, political compromise — the heart of democratic life — becomes difficult if not impossible.”

This rhetoric has become increasingly widespread among Republican lawmakers, including former President Donald Trump, who last year referred to Marxists and atheists as “evil demonic forces that want to destroy our country.”

That Trump would use NAR-inspired rhetoric is unsurprising considering his relationship with Paula White-Cain, an NAR figure who delivered the invocation at Trump’s inauguration in 2017 and at the kickoff of his 2020 reelection campaign, as noted by Paul Rosenberg in Salon. White-Cain also delivered the invocation at Trump’s Jan. 6, 2021, “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, D.C. — the event that eventually became the insurrection at the Capitol.

The attack on the Capitol was largely inspired, the report suggests, by NAR’s theology of dominionism. “NAR prayer groups were mobilized at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as well as supporting prayer teams all over the country, to exorcise the demonic influence over the Capitol that adherents said was keeping Trump from his rightful, prophesized second term,” the report states.

Major Republican figures took part in such events on or around the day of the attack. Mike Johnson, who is now the speaker of the House, joined the NAR’s “Global Prayer for Election Integrity,” which called for Trump’s reinstatement as president, in the weeks leading up to the attack on the Capitol. Johnson has also stated that Jim Garlow, an NAR leader, has had a “profound influence” on his life.

House Speaker Mike Johnson has ties to the extremist New Apostolic Reformation movement. Johnson is a student of ‘dominionist minister’ David Barton who aims at stripping government of functions such as education and welfare, and reserve those for like-minded dominionist churches.

Ultimately, the SPLC report is an attempt to ring the alarm bells about the NAR, ”the greatest threat to U.S. democracy that you have never heard of.

"It is already a powerful, wealthy and influential movement and composes a highly influential block of one of the two main political parties in the country,” the report continues. “So few people have heard of NAR that it is possible that, without resistance in our local communities, dominionism might win without ever having been truly opposed.”

The SPLC’s report, according to a press release, also documents 595 hate groups and 835 antigovernment extremist groups in America, “including a growing wave of white nationalism increasingly motivated by theocratic beliefs and conspiracy theories.”

“With a historic election just months away, this year, more than any other, we must act to preserve our democracy,” Margaret Huang, president and CEO of the Southern Poverty Law Center and SPLC Action Fund, said in a statement. “That will require us to directly address the danger of hate and extremism from our schools to our statehouses. Our report exposes these far-right extremists and serves as a tool for advocates and communities working to counter disinformation, false conspiracies and threats to voters and election workers.”

    4 days ago

    One of the cornerstones of the religion they profess to follow is that followers will be beset by false prophets who try to lead the faithful into wickedness. It’s the origin of the idiom “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. Followers of Jesus are then advised that they’ll be able to tell who’s who the same way you can tell that rotten fruit means a fig tree is blighted: you will know them by their fruits. In other words, if you listen to the warning and take even the slightest notice of what Jesus tells you is the right way to live, you won’t be led astray by people who pretend to be spiritual authorities but preach things Jesus said are bad things for any human to do, such as proclaming their own righteousness, claiming to be more Godly than you, and openly seeking riches and power. Whether you believe in Christianity or not, what it comes down to is that these people are “following God” in a way they are, word for word, told not to. By God.

    It’s like if you tried to start up a Anarcho-Capitalist club and then immediately set up a hierarchical power structure and began extracting dues from the members to fund a project that disproportionately benefits the poorer members. It’s like if you taught a class on healthy eating and then began extolling the benefits of swallowing batteries.