When one listens to Doug Mastriano, Republican candidate for governor in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, you will commonly hear him invoke a biblical reference or a bible verse from the Old Testament.
As Frederick Clarkson writes for Salon, an animating element of politics in the age of Trump is that some people are increasingly living out religious metaphors. These metaphors are derived from contemporary understandings of the Old Testament by new elements within Christianity. This has been central to the campaign of Mastriano.
Here are five takeaways from the story.
1. A retired Army strategist and intelligence officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mastriano has a challenging relationship between metaphor and reality when it comes to biblical narratives.He suggested to an interviewer that today’s Christians should emulate the warriors of Old Testament Israel.
2. Mastriano’s core support is a fusion of QAnon and the revivalist New Apostolic Reformation which views him as a military and political leader in advancing the biblically prophesied end times. We see this in his role in the Jericho March during the run-up to Jan. 6, and more recently when he joined members of the “Shofar Army” in a ceremony of “spiritual warfare” on the Gettysburg battlefield, and as the headliner at a conference, Patriots Arise.
3. Abby Abildness is a national religious leader, as well as a legislative lobbyist in Harrisburg. She says she meets with legislators at least once a week, praying and “bringing forth a religious freedom agenda.” She also led Jericho marches in Harrisburg. The story of the 2020 Jericho March purportedly began with God giving two different individuals the same vision, calling them to set up a march in Washington as well as in the capitals of the swing states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in the days before the presidential electors were to cast their votes.
4. Last year, Mastriano denied to Eliza Griswold of the New Yorker that he was a Christian nationalist. “Is this a term you fabricated?” he asked. “What does it mean and where have I indicated that I am a Christian Nationalist?” The term was not fabricated and Mastriano may have protested too much. He has sponsored several bills based on models found in the Christian nationalist legislative playbook formerly called “Project Blitz.” These bills would have mandated teaching the Bible in public schools and made it legal for adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples.
5. Salon unveiled two videos featuring Mastriano on the Gettysburg battlefield before his run for governor. He appears on July 18, 2020, just days after his prayers against antifa with Abildness, with videos that reveal his involvement with a group called the Shofar Army. In the videos, Mastriano performs a ritual act of spiritual warfare — blowing shofars with the Shofar Army and Prophet Bill Yount of Blowing the Shofar Ministries. But as later became clear, they understood the warfare as physical, not just spiritual.
Quotable: “We will win in November, and my God will make it so,” said Mastriano.