Mastriano under fire for payment to ‘Christian nationalist’ platform

Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee for governor of Pennsylvania, has come under fire from critics for ties to a right-wing social media platform whose founder has said there is no place for Jews, atheists and others in the conservative movement.

Mastriano, a state senator backed by former President Donald Trump, paid Gab $5,000 for “advertising advice” in April, records of state campaign funding showed.

Democrats and Republicans alike have criticized Mastriano for his association with Gab, the social media platform where a gunman who killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018 posted his anti-Semitic rants.

Some users of Gab, founded by Andrew Torba in 2016, envisaged plans on the platform to disrupt the determination of President Joe Biden’s victory on January 6, 2021. Torba has said his goal is to promote a “Christian nationalist” society, he has called for the conservative movement to be “exclusively Christian,” and he frequently holds anti-Semitic views.

“Andrew Torba is one of the most toxic people in public life right now,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, which Gab describes as a “haven for extremists” and a “conspiracy theorist,” said Tuesday on MSNBC. “Elected officials who engage in this type of rhetoric aren’t just flirting with fascism — they’re bringing it to the forefront of their political argument.”

Mastriano’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday afternoon. Mastriano answered responded to the criticism on Twitter Thursday night, saying Torba “does not speak for me or my campaign.”

“I reject anti-Semitism in any form,” he wrote. “The recent smear campaigns by Democrats and the media are blatant attempts to distract Pennsylvanians from the suffering inflicted on them by Democratic policies.

“While extremist speech is an unfortunate but inevitable livelihood in a free society, extremist politics is not,” he added, criticizing his Democratic opponent, Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

Shapiro hit back on Twitter by pointing to a interview Torba conducted in May with Mastriano, who said, “Thank God for what you did.” Gab supported Mastriano ahead of the May 17 primary.

Torba has hit back at critics this week, attempting to define the modern right as an exclusively Christian endeavor.

“We have seen the fruits – or lack thereof – of our nation being led by godless Gentiles, unbelievers, Jews and false professed Christians,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “If we’re going to build a Christian movement, it has to be strictly Christian, and we can’t be afraid to say that out loud. We are all sinners saved by grace, but unless you repent and believe in Jesus Christ, you do not share our biblical worldview and cannot participate in any significant position of authority in the movement. As simple as that.”

Reacted in a video In a Monday post by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Torba said of the right, “This is a Christian movement — period.”

“So no, we don’t want people who are atheists,” he said. “We don’t want Jews. Why is this so difficult to understand? You’re so mad I said that, right? They’re so mad that I said we don’t want people who aren’t Christians in a Christian movement. Why is this complicated? Why is this so controversial?”

“We don’t want Jews,” he later said in the 24-minute video. “This is an explicitly Christian movement because this is an explicitly Christian country. Well, we’re not saying we’re going to deport all these people. Remember, you’re free to stay here, right? You’re not going to be forced to convert or anything, but you’re going to…enjoy the fruits of life in a Christian society under Christian laws.”

Torba said his goal was to “try a Christian nationalist movement around the world.” In a separate videohe responded to Greenblatt’s MSNBC interview by telling the Jews that “we will not listen to 2%,” adding, “You represent 2% of the country, OK?”

As he reached for a comment, Torba pointed at him a statement to Gab in which he said his words were not representative of Mastriano’s campaign.

“I stand by everything I’ve said about Christian nationalism as an explicitly Christian movement.” he said in the statement. “This should be obvious from the name. Others are certainly welcome to join the movement and enjoy the fruits of Christian leadership and culture, but we need candidates, leaders, thinkers, influencers, culture warriors and builders who believe in and follow Jesus Christ…Otherwise there would be no Christian nationalism.

“If you are ethnically Jewish and call Jesus your Savior, then you are my brother or sister,” he added. “It’s not a racial issue.”

Mastriano’s connection to Gab was highlighted by the left-wing media watchdog Media Matterswho first spotted the $5,000 payment. Torba has said that he is not an advisor to Mastriano’s campaign, only that Mastriano paid to advertise on the site. HuffPost reports shortly after Media Matters revealed that newly created accounts on Gab automatically followed Mastriano — one of seven accounts that all new users were initially signed up for.

Mastriano’s major win that year shocked some members of the Pennsylvania Republican establishment, who failed in a last-ditch attempt to unite around another contender. His campaign message connected Christian nationalismElection denial and a rejection of the Covid mitigation policy.

Mastriano led efforts to overturn his state’s 2020 election and was outside the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 and was closely involved in efforts to convene fake voter rolls in hopes of blocking Biden from taking office.

In his victory speech in May, Mastriano condemned what he saw as “bigotry” against Christians, saying his supporters were “besieged” by opponents and media figures who “don’t like groups of us who believe certain things and they paint us.” in those terrible descriptions.”

Last weekShapiro and the Pittsburgh lawmakers representing the Tree of Life synagogue area condemned Mastriano’s connections to Gab.

Speaking to NBC News, Shapiro, who is Jewish, said Mastriano’s use of gab should not be viewed through the lens of religion but of extremism.

“The fact that he even goes on this site, let alone paying to recruit supporters and volunteers there, shows how extreme and dangerous he is,” Shapiro said.

Mastriano is “someone who I don’t think reflects where most of the good people of faith are in this Commonwealth,” Shapiro added, describing himself as “deeply religious.” “His extremism is really dangerous.”

In addition, Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said The Philadelphia Inquirer last week: “We urge Doug Mastriano to end his association with Gab, a social network rightly viewed by Jewish Americans as a cesspool of bigotry and anti-Semitism.”

In a video The Jerusalem Post reported on it this weekTorba said his “policy is not to interview reporters who aren’t Christian or outlets that aren’t Christian, and Doug has a very similar media strategy where he doesn’t interview those people.”

He also lamented “the establishment” who he says promotes Jewish conservative commentators like Dave Rubin and Ben Shapiro.

“These people are not conservative,” he said. “They are not Christians. They don’t share our values. They have inverted values ​​of us as Christians. So don’t fall for the bait of Populism Inc., don’t fall for the bait of this pseudo-conservatism, big tent nonsense.”

Mastriano isn’t the only candidate who paid to advertise on Gab.

As Torba noted in his video Wednesday, Herschel Walker, the Republican nominee for the Georgia Senate, has placed ads on its platform. Representatives Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.

Campaign Funding Records Show Greene has spent more than $36,000 on Gab this cycle. On Wednesday she has posted a t-shirt on Instagram to buy for followers.

It read, “Proud Christian Nationalist.”

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2022-election/mastriano-fire-payment-christian-nationalist-platform-rcna40541 Mastriano under fire for payment to ‘Christian nationalist’ platform

Fry Electronics Team

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