Daughter of Pro-Trump Evangelical Pastor Calls Out Father for Calling Dems Evil: 'That's Me'

The children of prominent pro-Trump evangelical Christian Pastor Rick Joyner are strongly opposed to his calls for a civil war, warning that his rhetoric will lead to violence.

Back in September, Joyner, 71, urged American Christians to "mobilize" and "get ready" for a war against liberal activists. The religious leader reiterated those views earlier this month. "It will be a civil war and it's going to be increasingly worse with the increasing time it takes for Americans to stand up and push back against this evil that has taken over our land," Joyner said on The Jim Bakker Show.

But Joyner's children have pointed out that, if any such conflict were to actually break out, they'd be aligned with the side opposite their father.

"He talks about Democrats being evil, forgetting that all five of his kids vote Democratic," Joyner's eldest child, Anna Jane Joyner, 36, a climate change activist and podcast host, told The New York Times recently. "Who is he asking his followers to take up arms against? Liberal activists? That's me."

Rick Joyner and Anna Jane Joyner
Pastor Rick Joyner and daughter Anna Jane Joyner attend the Showtime screening of "Years Of Living Dangerously" at the Ford Foundation's New York Headquarters on April 9, 2014 in New York City Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Showtime

Anna Joyner said she is concerned that her father's rhetoric will spur violence. "I think it's completely possible that some of my dad's followers could pick up guns and cause violence because they think they're defending the country," she said.

Ben Joyner, a 28-year-old filmmaker, told The New York Times that what his father does is "morally wrong," in his view. "I don't want to hurt him, but when he's spreading dangerous ideas, it gets complicated," he said.

But the pastor's children say they still aim to maintain a positive relationship with their father. At the same time, they said it has become complicated.

"At what point can I no longer go home for Thanksgiving and watch football with my dad?" Ben Joyner asked. "By doing so, am I condoning his behavior? It can be hard to draw that line in the sand, especially when you love this person."

The pastor told the Times that he had endeavored to raise his five children to be "independent" and "strong." Rick Joyner quipped: "But I think I overshot the runway."

In further comments emailed to Newsweek, Rick Joyner said he was not encouraging people to pick up arms and fight.

"Though I have been warning people for over 30 years that America was headed for another civil war, until 2018 I viewed it more like, 'If you don't change your direction you will end up where we're headed,' but with the hope, and expectation that we would change our direction," the pastor said. "Now it's apparent that we're not changing our direction, and are already in the first stages of clashes over many things. However, I have not encouraged people to take up arms against anyone, but rather in these times we must be able to defend our families, our neighbors, and any defenseless person regardless of their political or other affiliations."

White evangelical Christians were a key base of support for former President Donald Trump in 2016 and again in 2020. In both presidential elections, exit polls showed that about 8 in 10 white evangelicals backed Trump. The religious community has long been animated by Republicans' opposition to women's reproductive rights and to the expansion of legal protections for the LGBTQ community.

In addition to Joyner, many other prominent evangelical Christian leaders have come out staunchly in support of Trump. Franklin Graham, the son of late evangelical leader Billy Graham and CEO of Samaritan's Purse, an international Christian relief organization, has vocally backed Trump and even pushed the baseless conspiracy theory that President Joe Biden and Democrats stole the 2020 presidential election. A number of other self-described evangelical "prophets" have pushed bizarre claims, including that the military is carrying out a coup to return Trump to power and that God is working to remove Biden from office.

Meanwhile, some Christians are attempting to push back against the far-right beliefs within the evangelical community. The organization Faithful America, the nation's largest online community of Christians organizing for social justice, has repeatedly coordinated thousands of Christians to condemn controversial actions by prominent Republicans and evangelical leaders. And the evangelical progressive group Vote Common Good is working to push back against the Christian nationalist movement, which it sees as a primary force behind the January 6 insurrection against the U.S. Capitol.

Updated 3/29/2021, 2:15 p.m. ET: This article has been updated with additional comments from Rick Joyner.