Rep. Madison Cawthorn calls on "God-fearing patriots” to fight in a "spiritual battle" against Dems

The conservative Christian representing N.C.'s 11th district once called the separation of church and state "silly"

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published October 4, 2021 12:27PM (EDT)

U.S. Rep Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
U.S. Rep Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., called on the "American Christian church" to "come out of the shadows" in a campaign ad posted Sunday, imploring "strong, God-fearing patriots" to stand up against the apparent "tyranny" of Democratic Party. 

"If we bend the knee to the Democrats today, our country will be lost forever and our children will never know what freedom is," he said in a video released on Twitter. Cawthorn further called for likeminded believers to join his supporters in the "spiritual battle" unfolding on Capitol Hill. 

The video, likely to be one of many in his 2022 re-election campaign, features footage from a recent September speech delivered at the North Carolina Faith & Freedom Coalition's "Salt & Light Conference," where he framed himself as a congressional guardian against "the Devil."

"I don't feel an overwhelming sense of darkness as if the Devil has complete dominion of that area," he said of D.C. politics, "because I feel a spiritual battle going on on Capitol Hill."

"Look back into the Old Testament. Look at David, look at Daniel, look at Esther. Look at all these people who influenced the governments of their day to uphold Christian principles," he added. As Mic's Rafi Schwartz noted, these figures are "expressly Jewish," making them an odd choice for their purported promotion of Christian valor.

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This isn't the first time Cawthorn has invoked themes of war, with and without religious overtones, in his political remarks. In August he warned there could be "bloodshed" in future elections while echoing former President Donald Trump's false claims about "rigged" votes. And in July, Cawthorn objected to the House mask mandate instituted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., telling her "you are not God."

"Your will does not bow the knee of millions of my countrymen who refuse to heed your callous command," he said.

During a sermon in 2019, the Republican called the separation of church and state "silly," saying: "[Religion] is the basis of all of my experience and everything I've learned, everything that I believe in, how I've formed all of my worldview."

In the past, Cawthorn has also been criticized for instances of insensitivity to Jewish history, culture and faith.

In a November interview with Jewish Insider from last year, Cawthorn openly admitted that he was on a personal quest to convert Jews, saying that he's succeeded in proselytizing "a lot of … culturally Jewish people."

Last August, during his candidacy, Cawthorn sparked outrage when Instagram photos from 2017 were unearthed showing the North Carolina conservative on a visit to Adolf Hitler's vacation house in Germany, also known as the "Eagle's Nest."

"Strange to hear so many laughs and share such a good time with my brother where only 79 years ago a supreme evil shared laughs and good times with his compatriots," he captioned the photos, saying that the retreat was on his "bucket list for awhile" and "did not disappoint."

Cawthorn faces a number of challengers in his 2022 bid, according to WFAE, which last month reported that four Republicans and seven Democrats have announced campaigns to strip him of his seat. Last year, Cawthorn won 50.4% of his district's vote against Democratic Air Force veteran Moe Davis.

By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik was a former staff writer at Salon.

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