Where’s Wallnau? A NAR Apostle Takes Aim at Swing Counties in ‘The Battle for the Mountain of Government’

Modified from a Flickr image by barnyz (Creative Commons)

Just as they prophesied Trump’s victory and collaborated in the 2020 attempted coup, the Trump wing of the New Apostolic Reformation is on the offensive once again, waging a campaign in counties they think will swing the 2024 presidential election. 

The campaign has two main elements. One is led by Apostle Lance Wallnau, whose campaign is branded as The Courage Tour, while the other is led by a Trumpian think tank, the America First Policy Institute and its political action arm, America Policy Works. The latter’s project has disappeared from public view and may have gone stealth, but Wallnau’s Courage Tour, which appears to be a rejiggered version of last year’s Fire and Glory Tour, remains quite conspicuous. 

Wallnau, a strategist and the public face of the revolutionary movement known as the New Apostolic Reformation, is best known for his advocacy of the 7 Mountain Mandate, which is the idea that Christians are called to conquer seven “mountains” of society to achieve religious and political dominion: government, family, religion, arts & entertainment, media, education, and business. 

Wallnau says he’s engaged in “the battle for the mountain of government.” To that end, he also says “there are 3,143 counties in the United States and the Lord showed us that 19 are going to determine the future of America.” (Last year he said it was 14. But apparently, the lord’s plans changed.) The Lord’s target counties, he says, are now in seven swing states, where evangelical turnout was proportionally lower.  

General Wallnau

When the Tour hit Phoenix, the rhetoric and vision of religious war was employed to rally followers to participate in the mundane mechanics of the forthcoming election. All the while, the tour emphasizes the movements’s racial and ethnic diversity. Wallnau called (2:59:43) the tour: 

A real apostolic team because it’s Asian, Black, and White, and Jew and Gentile, male and female, and Hispanic. And its beautiful. It’s exactly what the Devil hates. It’s his biggest nightmare. We’re like the genuine rainbow coalition.

NAR evangelist Mario Murillo co-headlines the Courage Tour, along with such notable NAR figures as Apostles Mario Bramnick and Jenny Donnelly, Prophet Lou Engle, and Western Journal founder Floyd Brown. The tour has so far come to  Georgia and Arizona, with dates already scheduled for Michigan and Wisconsin, four of the six states Axios says are “expected to decide the 2024 presidential election.” Other sites are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Herman Martir, president of the Texas-based Asian Action Network led the Phoenix crowd in chanting an imprecatory prayer: “Arise oh God and let your enemies be scattered!” (2:58) Martir, who identifies as Navajo and Filipino, will be leading Asian American outreach in Minnesota and beyond. 

On the final day Apostle Mario Bramnick, a native of Cuba, a Messianic Jew, and President of the Latino Coalition for Israel, declared to a small crowd (what he called a “remnant”): “It’s time to join General Lance Wallnau in this great army to take back America!”  

Demonstrating that the tour was not limited to what happens in the tent, Bramnick left early in order to meet with “Hispanic pastors” at Vida Church in Mesa, Arizona—a strategic hub in their electoral mobilization scheme. Similarly, General Wallnau told another gathering at Vida Church, on March 26, 2024 (translated into Spanish by Pastor Benjamin Diaz) that while evangelists will also target other swing states and wage the spiritual “War over America,” the ground game will also be critical. “God sent me here as an ambassador of Heaven to tell you that you are going to be the key to America,” he declared. 

Vida Church, it should be noted, is part of the apostolic network of Bethel Church, in Redding, California, led by Apostle Bill Johnson.

General Wallnau added that the top four of the tour’s seven target states are Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin. But he stressed that “as Maricopa goes, so goes Arizona [and] as Arizona goes so goes the nation—and God’s going to hold you accountable.” That’s why, he continued, “we are leaving a team behind [to target key precincts].” 

Lance Wallnau instructing prospective activists in voter mobilization at Vida Church

General Wallnau further proclaimed that to carry out this stealth political ground game, they have “special intelligence apps” including As One America, which contains the name, address and phone number of Christian neighbors “who are not showing up to vote or who are not registered.” He then showed a map with big red arrows pointing to precincts “within striking distance” from Vida Church to the precincts that are “where the devil’s got a stronghold that God wants to break up.” 

The app was developed by Superfeed Technologies, which has also designed apps for such clients as America First Works, Turning Point Action, and the Arizona Republican Party.

The day before, he said, he had been to a gathering of “pastors and rich businessmen” for US Senate candidate Kari Lake, a Republican. The Lord had asked him to deliver a “prophetic prayer” declaring that he would protect Lake and her family from Satan’s attacks and the torments of “Soros demons.” (3:40)

Closing out the three-day Phoenix event was Jason Yates of My Faith Votes, an organization that has crunched data from the list of inconsistent Christian voters and is waging a campaign to contact them via handwritten letters from fellow Christians. 

Yates is concerned that too many Christians don’t vote. He explains that this is partly because they’ve been deceived by the myth of the separation of church and state. (Needless to say, there’s nothing in the doctrine of separation that seeks to discourage or prevent anyone from voting.)

Jason Yates of My Faith Votes explains why so many evangelical Christians don’t vote

Political training at the tent revival

On the Courage Tour Murillo leads an old-fashioned tent revival at night, while Wallnau and others seek to inspire and instruct followers on political engagement during the day. 

One new feature of this tour is that Wallnau and other NAR figures are no longer separating what they call “spiritual warfare” from real world politics. Nor are such displays limited to the Courage Tour. Once again speaking at Vida Church on March 23rd, Wallnau said God told him that the reason some states are electoral battle grounds is because they are “spiritual battle ground states”—where “my people aren’t praying strong in the spirit. And if we don’t have apostles and prophets in the territory, then demons control the territory and the minds of people are under the influence of devils.” 

The Left is loaded with demons,” Wallnau has warned. I don’t think it’s people anymore; I think you’re dealing with demons talking through people.” This is consistent with the recent escalation in the rhetoric of religious war going on across much of the NAR-influenced religious and political world. It has become de rigueur to cast religious, political, and gender differences as demonic. 

This trend is marked by a certain grandiose barrel of contradictions, in which the election can be at once compared to a major religious revival and to the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. The tour website claims that its events will mark the dawning “of our nation’s Third Great Awakening,” though Wallnau doesn’t explain why. He does, however, credit Dominionist thought leader and GOP operative David Barton for giving him “a lot of insight” in determining which places to target, and says that the battles of the swing states are going to be “Gettysburgs.”

Meanwhile, the America First Policy Institute (AFPI), a think tank formed in 2021 to promote the Trump agenda, is targeting 19 counties in 9 states. Launched with $1 million from Trump’s Save America PAC, AFPI boasts the involvement of members of the former president’s cabinet, administration and campaign staff. 

AFPI is also partly led and staffed by apostolic figures including Trump’s spiritual advisor, Apostle Paula White-Cain who heads the Center for American Values. (She also leads the Trump campaign’s National Faith Advisory Board, an AFPI partner in targeting the 19 counties.) 

Wallnau says seven states are key. AFPI says nine. Apparently, the lists of the fateful 19 counties have diverged as they’ve evolved.

In any case, the criteria are that they’re suburban swing counties with a population of 400,000 or more, and where the margin to win the state is less than 2%. 

In Arizona, Maricopa County, which includes the city of Phoenix, is the target. Hayek says “We [meaning the Trump campaign] lost the state of Arizona by 10,000 votes in 2020. Think about it.”

Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin complete AFPI’s “Tier 1” states, all of which are, again, among Axios’s six highlighted swing states. Florida, Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina comprise “Tier 2.”  

The Tier 1 Counties

Georgia: Cobb, Fulton, and Gwinnett Counties (Atlanta Metro Area) 

Wisconsin: Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties (Milwaukee Metro Area)

Nevada: Clark County (Las Vegas)

Arizona: Maricopa County (Phoenix)

Pennsylvania: Bucks, Chester, and Montgomery Counties (Philadelphia Metro Area), and Allegheny County (Pittsburgh) 

The Tier 2 Counties

Florida: Miami-Dade, Pinellas (Tampa Bay area), and Duval (Jacksonville) Counties

Ohio: Cuyahoga County (Cleveland)

North Carolina: Wake (Raleigh) and Guilford (Greensboro) Counties

Michigan: Macomb and Oakland Counties (Detroit Metro Area), and Kent County (Grand Rapids)

In a 2022 Facebook Live video Carrie Sheffield, the director of AFPI’s Center for American Values offers a version of the standard yet misleading explanation of Christian Right politics, claiming that they seek to “leverage churches” by educating them on the America First agenda, through their Biblical Foundations initiative. While their goal “whatever your industry,” is to implement state level policies that are based on the Bible, she nevertheless assures viewers that, “we are not a theocracy.”

The Courage Tour and America First Works are both partnering with Charlie Kirk’s Turning Point USA, which claims to have relationships with 2500 churches across the country that are promoting “an America First agenda.” In any case, it has emerged as a pivotal organization on the Christian and political Right, reportedly employing 450 people. Its Turning Point Faith division seeks to organize conservative Christians around the 2024 election. (Sean Feucht’s ‘unfriending America’ tour of state capitals is also being done in partnership with TPUSA).

The stealth of Project 19 

Ashley Hayek, Chief Engagement Officer of the AFPI (who previously served as the National Coalitions Director for the 2020 Trump presidential campaign) took to one of the larger platforms in the NAR world, the World Prayer Network Broadcast  in July 2023. There she unveiled (1:08:00) the 19-county campaign they call, rather prosaically, Project 19. 

The choice of the  platform was, in its way, as significant as the plan itself, as it demonstrated an intimacy between parts of the MAGA and apostolic movements. The WPNB, which is essentially a glorified Zoom call hosted by Apostle Jim and Rosemary Shindler Garlow, was a natural choice for the small world of the Christian Right. Adam W. Schindler, the Chief Digital Officer of AFPI was, with Garlow, a co-founder of the World Prayer Network.  

Ashley Hayek explains the “two-pronged” approach of Project 19

On the WPNB Hayek said that Project 19, which began in July 2023, seeks to educate people in 19 counties leading up to the 2024 election. (beginning) She described it as a “two pronged” effort in which they would both conduct issue education “through the churches,” and “voter mobilization” through their c4 arm, America Policy Works. (Incidentally, APW was previously a major spigot of cash for rightist groups after 2016 before rebranding and linking up with APFI).

Hayek outlines the 5-step plan of which Project 19 is just one part

Hayek noted that AFPI would issue a “Tool Kit” on the distinct election rules for each of the target counties, including a focus on mail-in ballots and ballot harvesting (in states where it’s legal). Although AFPI publishes several Tool Kits, they haven’t published their county election manual online. Neither has America Policy Works. This suggests that the campaign has gone stealth since its ballyhooed launch. 

Garlow’s Well Versed ministry is listed among AFPI’s ‘movement partners,’ alongside business/libertarian groups like the Club for Growth, familiar Christian Right organizations like the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Family Research Council, and the Family Policy Alliance. Intriguingly, listed among these usual suspects is the American Principles Project, founded by neoconservative Catholic strategist Robert P. George who in 2016, was a Never Trumper.

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick speaking in front of a chart of America First Movement Partners at an AFPI Summit in Ft. Worth

Garlow, a former California megachurch pastor and anti-marriage equality activist, says that media should not report on the WPNB calls, because they’ve “morphed into a church service.” In NAR fashion, they begin each World Prayer Network Broadcast by blowing the shofar.

He claims that the prayer calls on Zoom aren’t partisan but that what they’re in fact doing is “looking for Biblical candidates versus those that are anti-Biblical.” Hayek works for both the AFPI, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax exempt organization, and the related America Policy Works, a (501)(c)(4) organization whose tax status allows it to do some political advocacy work.

While there isn’t a lot of publicly available information, we do know, as Drake Franklin of the Biblical Foundations project staff says in a recent AFPI podcast, that they’ve been meeting with churches in the 19 counties and having the pastor speak from the pulpit about voter registration before getting the congregation registered. Co-host Chad Wolf, who was an Acting Secretary of Homeland Security in the Trump administration, says that some 30-40 million evangelicals “don’t vote, every cycle” and that “if even an infinitesimal percentage of those people get involved, we’ll never lose.” 

AFPI, and the wider Christian Right also has the big picture in mind beyond the targeted counties. While 81 percent of White evangelicals reportedly voted for Trump in 2016, the percentage dropped to 76 percent in 2020, though experts contend that White evangelical support for Trump is “remarkably stable and consistently strong.” AFPI believes that if they can get back to 81, or even part way, that could make the difference in 2024.

But wherever Wallnau, AFPI, and their partners go this election season, and whatever the outcomes of elections at all levels in 2024, the struggle for democracy or its demise will continue.

Thanks to @kiraresistance for her important research on NAR