October 2021 Church & State Magazine | People & Events

Christian nationalists joined an effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) last month, but the campaign failed when Newsom turned backed the challenge by a wide margin.

Newsom, who was elected in 2018, was targeted for a recall in part because of his policies on the coronavirus pandemic. Right-wing evangelical churches, many of which chafed over stay-at-home orders that Newsom issued early in the pandemic, joined the effort to oust the governor.

Under California’s system, voters were asked to vote “yes” or “no” on recalling Newsom. They were also asked to pick a replacement governor should the “yes” vote prevail.

More than 40 candidates filed to be on the ballot, and one, Larry Elder, a conservative radio talk show host who has never held elective office, emerged as the clear Republican favorite.

Elder, who during the campaign attacked sex education in public schools and said he would lift all COVID restrictions, frequently rallied in conservative churches during the recall effort, including a Sept. 5 visit to Destiny Christian Church in Rocklin, Calif. During an Aug. 1 sermon, Destiny Pastor Greg Farrington told congregants to vote to recall Newsom.

“Do your job as Christians on Sept. 14 and vote yes on recalling an immoral governor,” Farrington said. “Are we afraid of big tech, socialism, higher taxes? Are we afraid of a vaccine, liberal school boards, racial, social agendas, CRT [critical race theory], LGBTQ agenda? The gender-neutral doctrine, anti-America, radical groups like Black Lives Matter? What are we afraid of, church?”

On election night, Sept. 14, 64% of voters voted “no,” with 36% voting “yes.”