MAGA Pastor Mark Harris Makes Congressional Comeback in Victory for Christian Nationalists

Rev. Mark Harris, an anti-LGBTQ activist and vice president at the Family Research Council, won a multi-candidate primary election in North Carolina’s 8th congressional district this week, barely crossing the 30 percent threshold he needed to avoid a runoff in a district that has been gerrymandered “to heavily favor Republicans.” In a victory speech, Harris called his primary victory over well-funded opponents “my David and Goliath moment.”

Harris was the Republican nominee in the state’s 9th Congressional District in 2018 and an exemplar of Christian nationalist political operative David Lane’s efforts to recruit right-wing pastors to run for political office. He was also backed by Christian nationalist pseudo-historian David Barton, Seven Mountains dominionist Lance Wallnau, and others. Harris initially appeared to win that year, but the election was so marred by fraud committed by a consultant Harris had been warned against hiring that the state election board refused to certify the results. When testimony by Harris’s own son undermined his claims, Harris chose not to run in the special election that was subsequently held to fill the seat. He became FRC’s vice president for Association of Churches and Ministries, which encourages pastors and churches to be more politically engaged to advance FRC’s “biblical worldview.”

Campaigning this time around to fill a spot vacated by Rep. Dan Bishop, who ran for state attorney general, Harris has demonstrated a Christian nationalist knack for revisionist history and a Trumpian disregard for the truth. In a campaign ad, he set out to rewrite the history of his 2018 election, charging that Democrats “manufactured a scandal to steal the election” and comparing himself to Trump. “2020 Democrats stole the election from President Trump,” he claimed. “The year before they did it to me. Well, in 2024 President Trump is making a comeback, and so am I.”

Harris is not the only David Lane acolyte to emerge from the North Carolina primaries. The aggressively Christian nationalist and anti-LGBTQ Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, whose career has been nurtured by Lane, is now the Republican nominee for governor.

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