New Lt. Governor Mark Robinson is, like his predecessor Dan Forest, no stranger to controversy.
Next month he’ll be proving it again, following in Forest’s footsteps as a keynote speaker for a North Carolina Renewal Project event in Raleigh.
As Policy Watch reported in 2019, the American Renewal Project holds similar expense-paid private events across the country for “church and ministry leaders, and their spouses.” Its goal, as stated by founder David Lane, is to “engage the church in a culture war for religious liberty, to restore America to our Judeo-Christian heritage and to re-establish a Christian culture.”
That can mean recruiting Christian religious leaders to run for political office, as Lane has done through his “Pastors in Pews” program. It can also mean encouraging Christian leaders to be more explicitly political in their messages to their churches, as advised by some of the pastors who regularly speak at Renewal Project events.
Lane’s rhetoric often uses violent, militaristic imagery to describe what he calls the fight for survival of Christian culture in America – often against government from the local to the national level and particularly non-religious public education.
“Can you picture what America would look like following a decade-long war – a knock-down drag-out – to return God, prayer and the Bible to the public schools?” Lane asked in the 2012 essay in which he announced his American Renewal Project. “To regain our Christian heritage and re-establish a Christian culture?”
Extending his Biblical war metaphor, Lane called for divine punishment for political opponents.
“The message to our federal representatives and senators?” Lane wrote. “Vote to restore the Bible and prayer in public schools or be sent home. Hanging political scalps on the wall is the only love language politicians can hear.”
“One of these days some nobody – yet conversant and skilled in the Word – will call for religious liberty by reintroducing the Bible, Jesus, the Ten Commandments and honoring God at commencements in the public schools of America,” Lane wrote. “Then we will watch Providence call for ‘punishment executed by angels’ to those who oppose His Word.”
Lane has also written that America is “doomed” if Christians do not “‘conceive and orchestrate a plan’ – God’s Plan – to free Christian children from public education.”
Speakers at American Renewal Project events are often explicitly target Muslim and LGBTQ communities. Next month’s event is no exception.
On the event’s bill alongside Robinson is Pastor Ken Graves of Calvary Chapel church in Bangor, Maine. Graves’ speeches and writings, which often center on “men being men,” also rail against the LGBTQ equality movement, characterizing the struggle against it in martial terms.
“When we’re being honest, we are conscious that militant homofascism seeks to take over our land and make it Sodom,” Graves has said.
Graves calls the idea of separation between church and state “cowardice.”