RELIGION

Pro-migrant pastors on a bus plan to meet ‘God’s Army’ convoy at Texas border town

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(RNS) — Members of the self-proclaimed “God’s Army” are heading to a small town in Texas this weekend to denounce what they say are the Biden’s administration lax policies at the United States’ Southern border. Faith leaders who support immigration reform and migrant rights plan to meet them to engage in peaceful dialogue. 

The God’s Army campaign, called “Take our Border Back” and led by Christian nationalist figures, has called on supporters to form convoys at sites in Arizona, California and Texas on Feb. 3 and to kick off their journey to the border with prayer rallies.  

“This is a peaceful assembly of Americans from all political classes and ethnicities who will be praying for an end to the immigration crisis,” said the organizers in a Jan. 29 press statement.

Take Our Border Back’s website points out the dangers posed by “wide open Southern borders” and invites “retired law enforcement and military veterans, mama bears, elected officials, business owners, ranchers, truckers, bikers, media, and law-abiding, freedom-loving Americans” to join the movement.  

The campaign was launched Jan. 12 by Kim Yeater and Scotty Saks, two figures known for their involvement in Christian nationalist and far-right spheres. Saks is the host of Sovereign Radio, a syndicated show emanating from San Diego. Yeater is a life coach and radio host, also in San Diego. In a YouTube video posted to her channel, Yeater said she started the campaign after receiving a vision from God.

“We are on the brink of losing our country; it is imperative that we take our border back and that we take our border back right now,” she said on One America News.

The three convoys will head to Yuma, Arizona; Eagle Pass, Texas; and San Ysidro, California, and will share their progress south and east in real time on social media.

The convoy headed to Texas departed from Virginia on Jan. 29 and will end its trip at the Cornerstone Children’s Ranch in Quemado, Texas, near Eagle Pass, after a stop at Dripping Springs, Texas.  

Doug Pagitt, a Minnesota pastor who runs the anti-Christian nationalism organization Vote Common Good, hopes to meet the drivers and engage with them in Quemado. “We’re just going to be around and try to humanize the situation. And not have it be primarily about the disagreement,” he said.

Pagitt said he learned about the campaign last weekend and decided to head south on his organization’s bus, decorated with blue banners that say “Confronting Christian nationalism for the common good” on one side and “Faith, Hope, and Love supporting democracy for all” on the other.

Doug Pagitt. Courtesy photo

Doug Pagitt. (Courtesy photo)

Vote Common Good’s bus, which started in Minnesota, has stopped in Michigan and Missouri, where it was joined by other faith leaders. Having arrived in Eagle Pass on Friday, they hope to meet for a prayer service at the Children’s Ranch on Saturday with groups of locals who help migrants crossing the border.

Pagitt, whose organization has worked to counter the rise of extremist Christian nationalists since 2018, said God’s Army differs from “old-school Christian nationalists,” calling them “a variance to the Christian nationalism disease, that is particular to the time that we live in.” He characterized their mission as “a very fringe view.”

Pagitt pointed to calls for violence from certain “God’s Army” members — some have called to “hunt down migrants” — and said he feared some protesters might come with the same belligerent spirit as the Jan. 6 protesters who stormed the U.S. Capitol.

By meeting with them on Saturday, Pagitt also hopes to show them that the real danger is not for Americans but for the migrants crossing the river.  

Lori Mercer, a resident of Quemado, has run the Cornerstone Children’s Ranch since 1998. On Saturday, she will host hundreds of members of the Take Our Border Back campaign for a prayer breakfast. Together, they will be “praying and trusting the Lord to do a miracle on the border,” she said. 

The Cornerstone Children’s Ranch is a Christian organization that serves ministers on both sides of the border “who have been affected by migrants,” she explained.

“The situation is we live on the border, across the street is Mexico, and we have illegals coming through here. They’re causing problems. It’s horrible. It’s just been gradually getting worse,” Mercer told RNS. 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott also plans to join the convoy at Eagle Pass on Sunday.

The Take Our Border Back movement is also supported by U.S. Rep. Keith Self, a representative for Texas’ third district in Congress, who said he will attend the Texas gatherings.

The campaign was also promoted on Tucker Carlson’s podcast and the far-right conspiracy network InfoWars.

Kathryn Post contributed to this story.

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