The Black Robe Regiment wants to be the next big thing in Christian nationalism.
With a name referencing the Revolutionary War and an ideology shared by a Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate, the group would love some support from powerful right-wing figures like Michael Flynn, Roger Stone and Mike Lindell.
All three men have played key roles in the vociferous “ReAwaken America Tour,” which has been described as “the face of Christian nationalism.”
Much as they’d like to be, the Black Robe Regiment is not that face. But their objectives are clear.
Though the name may suggest otherwise, the Black Robe Regiment is not a paramilitary group — at least not yet. It’s a reference to a British loyalist term for American revolutionary pastors who helped drum up anti-British sentiment prior to the revolution.
But this Black Robe Regiment isn’t about revolution, it’s about erasing the distinction between church and state.
“Our Vision: Overseeing the deliberations and actions of local government,” the group writes on its website. “Lead the Christian community in turning from sin to righteousness, teaching a biblical worldview. Asserting their influence and that of their flocks in local government.”
But many of the Black Robe Regiment’s website links go nowhere. The “About Us,” “Events” and “Resources” pages are all internet dead-ends. The “Donate” page works just fine though.
In theory, Pennsylvania’s Republican candidate for governor, Doug Mastriano, would be the perfect candidate to back the group. Though he claims not to be a Christian nationalist, Mastriano has described the separation of church and state as “a myth.”
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But Mastriano has never endorsed the group, even as it promoted a rally in Pennsylvania. Their tweets get no engagement; even their Facebook page is bereft of likes.
The Black Robe Regiment posts videos on Rumble, a video-sharing site popular with right-wingers because it doesn’t moderate content. But the videos struggle to get more than a couple dozen views.
Flynn threw the group a bone at one event in July, “commissioning” pastors to join the regiment. But he’s hardly done anything since, even though the group continued promoting the ReAwaken America Tour.
Various conservative pastors have described themselves as part of a “Black Robe Regiment.” Their sermons may be similar to the words on the group’s website. But no formal group has been championed by the far right and its Donald Trump acolytes.
In fact, the phrase has been trotted out a few times before, by Glenn Beck in 2010 and by Florida pastor Chuck Baldwin in 2007. Their “movements” never coalesced.
But just because a new “Black Robe Regiment” hasn’t done anything yet doesn’t mean its future is set in stone.
“This new age ‘Black-Robed Regiment,’ then, is not just a bastardization of Revolutionary history,” wrote history professors Thomas Lecaque and J L Tomlin in the Washington Post, “but a dangerous movement to provide religious fervor and militarism to a group already champing at the bit for violent revolution.”