Bu Kurt Phillips
Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Pastor of the far-right Street Church Artur Pawlowski, his brother Dawid, and Christopher Scott, who runs the Whistle Stop Café in Mirror, AB, were found guilty of contempt for “deliberately and wilfully” breaching Alberta’s COVID-19 public health rules. Artur railed against the decision on social media, suggesting this was proof of anti-Christian persecution and government corruption.
He wasn’t in Canada to hear the June 28 decision. Instead, Pawlowski is using his recent legal troubles to garner more support from the far-right in the United States.
Pawlowski is engaged in what he is calling an “American tour” to share with other Christian nationalists the dangers of communist-controlled Canada. He has gone as far as suggesting the next step in public health measures after bylaw fines is the mass execution of Christians.
Given the rockstar treatment since his arrival, the pastor has been spotted riding in stretch limousines, eating five-course dinners, and signing autographs as “the lion” -- a title he earned after a temper tantrum and histrionically screaming “get out” to healthcare workers and police.
In interviews with right-wing media and speeches at Christian nationalist events, Pawlowski repeats many of his same talking points – that the country is controlled by corrupt “Nazi communists;” the police enforcing bylaws are the Gestapo; masks and vaccinations are a violation of their freedoms; COVID-19 is a hoax; and that it is all simply a conspiracy to control Canadians and erode Christianity.
What he has to say isn’t particularly novel, the people he is networking with are.
MAGA Militia Men
Pawlowski’s tour is being promoted, and likely being funded, by FEC United – their website boasts the tour is being “presented by” the organization. FEC United is an American religious group recently founded by Joe Oltmann. The group operates on what they call their “pillars” – faith, education, and commerce.
FEC United did not respond to requests for comment.
The group operates under the assumption that Americans have lost the liberties that made it a “free nation” and that only by restoring the nation’s Christian soul will they be able to restore the country to its former glory.
“This loss has happened gradually over the past several decades, yet the majority of the population has relied on the power of the American Vote to elect individuals we believed were meant to represent the will of us, the People,” the website reads. “The disastrous government overreach observed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic should prove to the American People that we have lost our representation and ability to hold our elected officials accountable for their actions.”
Besides political connections, FEC United maintains an armed militia wing known as the United American Defence Force. The UADF was responsible for the Patriot Muster Rally in October 2020. During this event, a private security guard hired to protect journalists shot and killed a rally participant who attacked him with pepper spray. Oltmann laid his disdain for the media bare, making unsubstantiated claims that members of “antifa” were in fact posing as journalists.
“We’ve been de-masking antifa members that are actually acting as journalists … So the next thing we’re doing because of that is that we are going to start demasking so people in the community know who they are… You what to know what it looks like who want to take this country away.”
He followed up with a threat toward journalists who publish unfavourable coverage.
“We’re coming for you. I hope they’re watching. I hope all of them are watching, including the one who tried to sneak in here. If you’re part of the media and you write something bad about us, better take your byline off it.”
It was this effort to “de-mask” journalists he believed to be activists that may have contributed to spreading the conspiracy theory that the election was stolen from former President Trump by Dominion Voting Systems. Claiming that he was able to infiltrate an “antifa conference call,” Oltmann said that he heard a person named “Eric” had assisted in fixing the election.
Without evidence for the claim, Oltmann took to his podcast and accused the Director of Product Strategy and Security for Dominion Voting Systems, Eric Coomer, of fixing the election for President Joe Biden. The unsubstantiated claim was picked up by far-right media, and eventually repeated by Trump’s legal team.
Facing death threats, Coomer and his family have had to go into hiding. He is currently suing Oltmann as well as the Trump campaign, a number of far-right media platforms, and some of the last administration’s ideologues -- including One America News, Sydney Powell, and Rudy Giuliani.
Oltmann, who has suggested that violence may be necessary to “take back” the United States from who he believes to be an illegitimate president, praised participants in the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol Building.
“We’re in a scary time in this country and somebody asked me, this is for the news you’re going to like this, somebody asked me, ‘Joe, are you advocating for violence?,’” he said, flanked by members of the UADF militia during a March 2021 rally in Colorado. “And I’m going to tell you no. But if you want to take our country it will have to be by violence. If you’re going to take our way of life away from us, you’re not going to do it without blood spilled. It doesn’t mean I advocate for violence. It just means I want the propaganda to stop.”
Also involved with FEC United is Cindy Chafian, who was an organizer for one of the Trump rallies on January 6 that took place in Washington D.C. prior to the assault on the Capitol Building. Chafian has been accompanying Pawlowski, participating in some media and introducing him before his appearances.
In a video tagged as having taken place in Scottsdale, AZ at the end of June, Chafian railed against communism and China.
“We’re not going to let communists win. We’re not going to let communist China win. This is our country and we’re not going away.”
In the same video, Chafian talks about the “initiatives” of FEC United. In addition to touring Pawlowski around the United States, the group demands that Critical Race Theory be removed from the curriculum of Colorado schools, despite the fact Critical Race Theory is not a part of the curriculum. Included in the crowd of the Cherry Creek School Board meeting were two members of the UADF.
To understand what critical race theory actually is, versus what the far-right claim it is, and how the far-right are weaponizing the term, check out this recent episode by QAnon Anonymous.
The Far Right Media Circuit
Pawlowski later joined Steve Bannon in Washington D.C. for a sit-down interview alongside Cindy Chafian. Steve Bannon is the former executive chairman of Breitbart News, which pushed white nationalist views, and which Bannon once proudly touted as a platform for the alt-right.
Bannon left Breitbart when he became the chief executive of Donald Trump's presidential campaign. For a time he held the position of chief strategist in Donald Trump’s administration.
Pawlowski was also interviewed by Randy Corporon on Wake Up With Randy Corporon. Corporon, a Republican National Committee official in Colorado, who has a history of misogynistic and Islamophobic remarks. This includes comments on the physical appearance of women and suggesting that Muslims should be forbidden from holding public office in the United States. He also has a history of disseminating conspiracy theories including the racist Barack Obama birther conspiracy, claiming the Clinton’s were involved in a series of politically motivated murders, and that Joe Biden is a pedophile.
The claim that Biden is a pedophile falls into the QAnon conspiracy in which Donald Trump is believed to be fighting against an international cabal of Satanist pedophiles. Zak Paine, a QAnon advocate who has been banned from YouTube sat down with Pawlowski, “to discuss his legal troubles and the Canadian government’s attempt to shut down his mission work and their citizen’s ability to worship The story is shocking and reveals a sinister institutional plan to remove God from daily life.”
Paine, who has encouraged his listeners to drink a bleach solution as a cure for cancer, promoted Trump’s rally on January 6, 2021, and monetized footage of the subsequent insurrection.
Perhaps the most interesting interview was conducted by Steven Hotze, Dr. Hotze’s Wellness Revolution podcast. Hotze is a physician who has become wealthy selling pseudoscientific treatments for a variety of unrelated ailments and is currently being sued based on allegations some of the products he sells contain lead. Hotze is also a far-right conservative activist who in the past suggested that schools were going to compel children in kindergarten to “practice sodomy,’ recommended “shooting the queers” to fight against HIV/AIDS, and who in response to BLM protests stated that the National Guard should be called with orders to “shoot to kill the son of a bitches. That's the only way you restore order. Kill 'em.”
He has also sued over COVID restrictions in the state of Texas and promoted QAnon conspiracies that vaccinations are a “global ritual” to inject nano-bots into peoples’ bodies to make them easier to control.
Pawlowski found himself right at home on the show.
“They are using the invisible enemy to destroy you. They’re coming after pastors. They’re coming after Christians, because Christians, Jesus, God competes with their god and their state religion… the [communist] party,” Pawlowski said during his appearance.
Hotze added that this is the “age-old battle between good and evil, between God and his king Jesus Christ and between Satan and all the forces of darkness and that’s just the way it is. There are literally demonic forces going on that people worship.”
“I don’t know sir, but I know that when you get involved in Satanic cults and all that and, friends I may sound crazy but that is going on in America today. It’s going on around the world and they want to destroy anything that is related to the Christian church and that’s why pastor Pawlowski has been under attack.”
Donald Quixote’s “Big Lie”
Hotze’s more recent claim to fame is adherence to Trump’s “Big Lie” that the election had been stolen from him. Hotze bankrolled a quixotic effort to find evidence of voter fraud. He hired a former police officer to investigate his belief that thousands of ballots had been illegally cast. A target of this suspicion was an air conditioner maintenance worker who was stopped by the private investigator and held at gunpoint as his truck was searched for the alleged 75,000 ballots signed by Hispanic children were believed to be. Unsurprisingly, none were found. The private investigator was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, however, Hotze expressed his support of the investigation, claimed the charges were “bogus”, and directed vitriol at the state GOP for not conducting the investigation themselves.
Adherence to the “Big Lie” is another one of the binding themes in Pawlowski’s American tour. In Manhattan Pawlowski met Michael Flynn, who was very briefly Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor. Flynn was convicted of "willfully and knowingly" making "false, fictitious and fraudulent statements" to the FBI. He was later pardoned by Trump.
“This man (Pawlowski) who everybody has gotten to know in this hemisphere if not around the world basically opened up his church doors and wanted to continue to preach and to try to help people and the city of Calgary,” Flynn said.
“I guess and the nation of Canada, you know whatever the rules and restrictions are they’re obviously against God and ripping the fabric of God out of everything we do in our lives.”
Flynn has glommed onto the QAnon conspiracy, headlining a QAnon conference earlier this year in Dallas. Flynn’s family has since claimed that the now-infamous clip of his family reciting the QAnon motto “Where We Go One, We Go All” was simply a “statement of support for each other.”
In Los Angeles, Pawlowski met with Arthur Schaper who has been described as so caustic the California GOP disavowed him. Schaper runs the California chapter of MaxResistance, an anti-immigration and anti-LGBTQ+ group that includes overt white nationalists and is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.
Schaper would take Pawlowski on a tour of Hollywood to find Donald Trump’s star on the Walk of Fame. Ever the self-promoter, Pawlowski was wearing his, “get out” baseball cap:
“The ‘get out’ is not for the President Donald Trump,” Pawlowski says to the camera. “It’s for the Nazis that took over the White House, turning the White House into the Black House. Okay, so I just want to make sure that we are supporting the real President of the United States of America, not the fake one.”
Reawaken America Tour
The main event of Pawlowski’s American sojourn is his participation in the “Reawaken America Tour,” a multi-city endeavour that has included such luminaries as dirty trickster Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, perpetual failed candidate Alan Keyes, Mike Lindel of MyPillow, and Sam Sorbo. Sam’s husband Kevin Sorbo doesn’t appear to have been present, perhaps because he is shooting a movie -- which doesn’t seem likely because, come on, we’re talking about Kevin Sorbo here.
Judy Mikovits, a disgraced virologist and conspiracy theorist, heaped praise on Pawlowski, though she had to be reminded by Artur what his name was.
The Tampa leg of the tour was hosted by Rodney Howard Browne. Browne has also spread wild conspiracy theories including the “fact” that powerful figures in Hollywood and Washington D.C. engage in cannibalism and human sacrifice, the CIA controls ISIS, vaccines are a means of population control, and the Christchurch massacre was a false flag. An ardent supporter of Donald Trump, he once claimed a Congressman spoke to him personally about a plot to assassinate the then president. He also has a Canadian connection, as while preaching in Nunavut, Browne pressured a population with high rates of poverty for donations.
Not surprisingly he has also been opposed to COVID health protocols.
One participant whom Pawlowski heaped a great deal of praise on was Greg Locke who was another speaker on the “Reawaken America Tour”; Pawlowski also preached in Locke’s own church in Tennessee. Pawloski called him an “amazing lion.”
Artur Pawlowski and Greg Locke. Source: Facebook
“Let me say, you know America’s in a mess but you guys have been the front line of defence, Pastor Artur and two or three other ones willing to go to jail,” Locke responded to a heap of praise from the Canadian. “And I say there ought to be more of you willing to go to jail. Every single one of you should have had a citation by now. And look, if you need to get drug [sic] off to jail you get drug [sic] off to jail. It’s not about dying for Jesus, it’s about living for Jesus.”
Calling for unity as “they’re coming for us,” Locke added shortly after, “You got to push back. It doesn’t matter what they do, it doesn’t matter what they say. If we lose this one, we’ve lost it all. This is our time to stand and if we don’t push back now we are going to ruin this and the coming generations. God bless you brother, you’re my hero.”
Locke has been featured in American media for his continued support of the Big Lie. He has claimed that Trump remains the legitimate president and that President Biden is demon-possessed.
Much like QAnon’s followers, he claims that the likes of Biden, Oprah, and Tom Hanks are pedophiles and that there are child trafficking tunnels under the Capitol. He has called COVID-19 a “fake” pandemic and that the vaccines are “sugar water” while offering to write religious exempting for anyone who asks.
Street Church On The Road
Due to the distinct cultural differences, the Christian right does not have as much of a foothold on day-to-day politics as it does in the US - although it’s still influential. This might make it tempting to dismiss Artur Pawlowski’s far-right Christian nationalist tour as a sideshow. However, the pastor’s time in the US has seen him featured as the main event.
He has appeared in The Daily Caller, which was co-founded by Tucker Carlson, as well as his story appearing on Fox News. This has had a direct impact on Canada as Senator Josh Hawley has asked for Canada to be investigated for violating religious freedoms due to the arrest of Alberta pastors.
“I would expect this sort of religious crackdown in communist China, not in a prominent western nation like Canada,” Hawley stated.
“Canadian authorities’ arrest of faith leaders and seizure of church property, among other enforcement actions, appear to constitute systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.”
Senator Hawley was shown giving a salute to Trump supporters on January 6 prior to the insurrection as he entered the Capitol to challenge the certification of election results in a number of swing states.
Pawlowski, not surprisingly, was pleased by this gesture.
“Whatever we are doing here, in the USA, it started to work. Let’s keep putting pressure on those wannabe tyrants.”