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Evangelical Christian activists plan ‘barnstorming’ tour of Georgia ahead of Senate runoff

Campaigning for ‘biblical citizenship’ will be former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann; Charlie Kirk, co-founder of Liberty University’s Falkirk Center; Rick Green; and David Barton.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, center, stands with Georgia Republican candidate for Senate Kelly Loeffler, right, and Bonnie Perdue, left, wife of Sen. David Perdue, R-Georgia, after a campaign rally Nov. 11, 2020, in Marietta, Georgia. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

(RNS) — A group of evangelical Christians plans a barnstorming tour of Georgia this week to press for “biblical citizenship” and “restoration of biblical values and constitutional principles” ahead of the state’s runoff election for its two U.S. Senate seats.

“Georgia has become the center of the political universe,” said the tour’s website, “and the body of Christ has the opportunity to protect our God given freedoms for generations to come.’” 

The tour is headlined by Rick Green, founder of the Christian nationalist Patriot Academy; conservative Christian author and activist David Barton; and his son Tim, a minister who runs the activist group Wallbuilders with his father.

Other featured speakers include actor and activist Kirk Cameron; Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia; former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann; Charlie Kirk, conservative activist and co-founder of Liberty University’s Falkirk Center; and conservative comedian Brad Stine.

The itinerary on the group’s website lists stops in small Georgia towns such as Eatonton, Canton and Fayetteville.

In Georgia’s runoff, the Democratic contenders, Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, are facing two Republican incumbents, Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. Both national parties are pouring resources into the fight, which will determine control of the Senate.

Faith groups are mobilizing to support either side as well. The African Methodist Episcopal Church is encouraging its members to cast ballots by mail or vote early in-person, hoping to energize their primarily Black voter base that was instrumental in delivering Georgia for President-elect Joe Biden.

The Faith & Freedom Coalition, based in Atlanta and headed by Ralph Reed, spent millions on a national get-out-the-vote program during the general election and is now organizing in Georgia.

In this Nov. 15, 2020, file photo, Georgia Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate the Rev. Raphael Warnock, left, and Jon Ossoff, right, wave to a crowd during a campaign rally in Marietta, Georgia. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

Religious debate has already become a fixture of the runoff, where Republicans have launched attack ads against Warnock, who also serves as pastor of Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Speaking at a recent rally in support of Warnock’s opponent, Loeffler, Georgia Congressman and Republican Doug Collins decried Warnock’s position on abortion, saying, “There is no such thing as a pro-choice pastor.”

“What you have is a lie from the bed of hell,” said Collins, who earlier this year decried what he said were efforts to challenge the faith of Amy Coney Barrett after her nomination to the Supreme Court. “It is time to send it back to Ebenezer Baptist Church.”

Warnock, for his part, has dismissed the attacks against his religious beliefs, referencing Bible verses in his advertisements and encouraging voters to “love your neighbor as yourself.”