KNOXVILLE, TENN. — The new congregation is gathered in a barn in Lenoir City, Tenn., with a roof that has a 60-foot American flag painted on it. And they are praying for a Trump landslide.
Standing in a circle, the dozen or so men and women, young and old, lay their hands on their pastor, Ken Peters, as he raises their requests to God.
He prays that “communism and socialism and transgenderism and homosexuality and abortion will not have their way in this land.”
“Yes, Lord,” someone cries.
He prays that the nation’s “Christian roots” will remain, that the church of Jesus Christ will be a “restraining power.”
“God, this nation is a miracle for you,” Peters continues. “You rescued us, and you gave us our independence for a purpose.”
After another “amen,” the service begins with everyone’s hands raised to “Here I Am to Worship,” a popular contemporary Christian song performed in many evangelical churches.
This is a Patriot Church, part of an evolving network of nondenominational start-up congregations that say they want to take the country back for God. While most White conservative Christian churches might only touch on politics around election time and otherwise choose to keep the focus during worship on God, politics and religion are inseparable here. The Tennessee congregation is one of three Patriot Churches that formed in September. The other two are near Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., and in Spokane, Wash., and Peters says he is talking with several more pastors of existing churches who want to join them.
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