2024 Theocratic Politics & The New Apostolic Reformation with André Gagné and Frederick Clarkson 

In this era of political polarization, the landscape in the United States is marked by the rise of Donald Trump as the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential election. This despite Trump facing numerous legal challenges–including over his involvement in the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol. However, Trump and his supporters are but the most visible element. Part of the reason for his rise is a profound tale of our time. The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is increasingly taking over the religious right movement and, in turn, influencing the Republican Party, which holds implications for Christianity and the future of democracy. 

The NAR is closely aligned with those who are on a mission to take over democracy worldwide under the guise of “religious freedom.” Not only are they backing Trump, but Trump is backing them. This movement of politicized Neo-Charismatic Pentecostals (NCP) seeks to assert dominance through their Seven Mountain Mandate, which we’ve previously discussed. There is a possibility that Trump could once again serve as a conduit for their agenda at the nation’s highest office, amplifying the impact of this cult movement towards religious theocracy through the legislative and judicial branches of government at all levels. The theocratic end goals are clearly laid out through Project Blitz, a state-level legislative program primarily led by NAR operatives. André Gagné and Frederick Clarkson returned to my show to discuss the NAR, its background, and ways to educate people worldwide about it.  

André Gagné is the author of the new book American Evangelicals for Trump: Dominion, Spiritual Warfare, and the End Times. His book was originally published in French but was fortunately released in English for broader distribution. André is a Full Professor and Chair of the Department of Theological Studies at Concordia University in Montreal. He has a conjoint PhD from l’Université catholique de Louvain (Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium) and l’Université de Montréal, a M.A. and B.Th. from l’Université de Montréal. 

Frederick Clarkson, a Senior Research Analyst at Political Research Associates, a progressive think tank in Somerville, Massachusetts, joined him. Frederick has written about politics and religion for four decades, appearing in many publications from Mother Jones, Church & State, and Ms. Magazine to The Christian Science Monitor, Salon.com, and Religion Dispatches. 

In this episode of the Influence Continuum, we discussed the rising power of apostles and prophets in politics and governance. We also explored the roots of NAR through C. Peter Wagner, an American evangelical missionary focused on charismatic leadership, was a professor at the evangelical Fuller Theological Seminary for three decades. He began the push for running churches like businesses and the focus on the idea of “spiritual warfare” towards the end of his life. We talked about how new apostolic leadership views their religion in relationship to other Christian organizations as not fully practicing with spiritual and theological correctness, thus putting themselves in a position of being the only right religion to follow.  

As Fred noted, this leaves the NAR with a frightening view of political control, where their religion is the only valid form of Christianity. Demonstrating their views, he stated, “…there are political implications for that. So, if you’re a progressive Catholic priest, you’re not really a Christian. If you’re a pro-choice, pro-marriage equality Protestant, you’re not really a Christian.” He continued, “It begins to have political implications that erode all notions of religious pluralism and separation of church and state as foundational aspects of society.” He then remarked that this movement is not only supporting Trump but other leaders around the world and seeks to unravel, challenge, and decompose institutional Christianity as we know it.  

André points out that it is essential to recognize that this is not the historical viewpoint of all Pentecostals and that we need to distinguish this extremist view from the NAR movement compared to others. However, according to Fred, the NAR has unfortunately taken over much of the evangelical world. What is agreed upon is that this sector is growing, and the core theological and political idea of the Seven Mountain Mandate appears to be a structured plan for the path ahead.  

Charlie Kirk, the founder and CEO of Turning Point USA, is currently collaborating with Lance Wallnau, who identifies as an apostle, to turn out more conservative spiritual support for Trump in the 2024 election. Wallnau is a leading figure within the NAR and promoter of the Seven Mountain Mandate, which calls for Christians–of the right sort– to control government, economics, education, family, religion, arts and entertainment, and media. As André points out, the Seven Mountain Mandate is a mobilization strategy for many evangelical Christians to fulfill its mission. 

One significant aspect to understand about the NAR is that its influence is growing and extending outside of the United States’ political and religious institutions. The goals of the Seven Mountain Mandate are to gain leadership in all high places, including politics, education, media, and more. Trump was seen to be on top of that mountain through his roles as a business and media mogul, thus becoming a facilitator of the broader doctrine.  

Fred, André, and I agreed that gaining a better understanding of the ties between religion and politics in this movement was a great place to start unraveling the connections. André’s book, American Evangelicals for Trump: Dominion, Spiritual Warfare, and the End Times, is a great place to start. It is concise, authoritative, and accessible. Other suggestions include finding like-minded people who share common concerns about this planned theocratic control of governance–ideas that the founders of the United States were strictly against and fought hard to eliminate via the Constitution and First Amendment–in order to learn more about it. As in any other field, we need to know enough about it and have a sufficiently common vocabulary in order to develop a strategy together. We all must be cautious not to speculate but to investigate ties or links to achieve an understanding of the whole within this anti-democratic political force seeking to control our governance. As André points out we are playing into their hands when we don’t get the story right. People must take this global movement seriously and seek to strategically dissolve its undue influence.  

Further Resources:  

André Gagné, American Evangelicals for Trump: Dominion, Spiritual Warfare, and the End Times, Routledge, 2024. 

Paul Rosenberg, Meet the New Apostolic Reformation, Cutting Edge of the Christian Right, Salon, January 2, 2024 

Recapturing Religious Freedom & Defending Democracy: Interview with Frederick Clarkson  

The Growing Rift Inside the New Apostolic Reformation with Andre Gagné and Frederick Clarkson

Articles co-authored by Clarkson and Gagne at Religion Dispatches.