At the Reawaken America event in Batavia, Mike Lindell – “The MyPillow Guy” – was a star. When he came to the stage as a final presenter, the audience gave him a raucous standing ovation. Why? Most of us never heard of him until he became a public supporter and donor of Donald Trump. Now he’s almost a “hero” to people who follow this tour and the Christian Nationalism movement.
MyPillow infomercials on late night TV since 2011 and national media attention helped him build a 1,500-employee manufacturing business of pillows, linens, slippers, and more in Chaska, Minnesota. Never one for politics until 2016, his meeting in Trump Tower that August made him a staunch supporter of Donald Trump, which is why most of us now know who he is.
As Lindell tells his own story, he was a gambler and cocaine addict for 30 years until 2009 (just two years before his company “took off”). As he tells it – mostly the only way we “know” much about his life – he prayed to be free of the addiction and the desire left. Maybe so, but he remains a man willing to lie and to use people to be in the spotlight. He did not publicly profess to be a Christian until 2017, yet now he is acclaimed as one used by God to help bring what he called “the greatest revival for Jesus Christ in history.”
Liberty University in 2019, while Jerry Falwell, Jr. was still president, invited him to speak and awarded him an honorary doctorate (a man who dropped out of college after a few months). Falwell said about him: “I can’t think of anybody else who epitomizes the principles that built this school more than Mike.” And in his speech, Lindell said, that “he sees his success in the business world simply as an afforded opportunity to share his Christian faith. … The pillow is just a platform for a much bigger thing. …. My calling is to speak out the word of Jesus.”
As he spoke in Batavia, I jotted down this question:
How can Christians lie so much?
In his presentation, Lindell spoke in detail about “the stolen election.” He blames cyber technology which he calls “an evil threat in our nation.” He says it is the work of the “deep state” and a “unigovernment.” He referenced the Georgia primary and how “one precinct reported no votes for one candidate until they looked in the machine” to find the votes (whatever that means) and told similar stories. He claimed that “54 countries have lost everything due to machines.” This wild, nonsensical claim got applause when he followed it with “machines have to go.” He also claimed that “a New York Citizens Audit found huge discrepancies between Secretary of State and County Boards of Elections … that names and identities have been changed … that people serving are not who the people elected.” Stuff and nonsense, as the saying goes.
When nonsensical claims, conspiracy theories, and fact-checked lies are believed and applauded at these events by people who claim to be Christians and Patriots, our nation is threatened and the reputation of all Christians is dishonored. Here’s more of what Mike Lindell said at a 2019 CPAC conference:
“Donald Trump invited me to meet him at Trump Tower in New York City. I walked into his office with high hopes on August 15, 2016. I walked out of that office after meeting with him, and I knew God had chosen him for such a time as this. … God answered our prayers, our millions of prayers, and gave us grace and a miracle happened on November 8, 2016. … We were given a second chance and time granted to get our country back on track with our conservative values and getting people saved in Jesus’ name.”
Even some on the far right are backing away. Lindell bought three hours of airtime on OANN – One America News Network – “to broadcast Absolute Proof, a documentary that makes false claims about the election.. … OANN broadcast a lengthy disclaimer before the program saying the claims were Lindell’s alone, but that the 2020 election results ‘remain disputed and questioned by millions of Americans.’” That’s not much, but it’s a start.
In January 2022, “Lindell claimed that he possessed ‘enough evidence to put everybody in prison for life, 300-some million people’ for their part in the alleged 2020 election fraud, which, at the time, was about 91 percent of the U.S. population.” Stuff and nonsense.
When I began to follow the growth of this movement 15 years ago, most people thought “the religious right” was losing its power. Now a far more extreme version of this Christian Nationalist movement holds events with thousands of people around the nation. They have a powerful network of social, broadcast, and print media. They know how to dominate the news and spread their “message” farther every day.
And here we are. Too many people still want to dismiss the “nonsense” and trust that enough people will recognize lies for what they are. Yet “election deniers” are elected to state offices and the U.S. Congress where they will hold power to manipulate election results. What can we do?
Know the facts.
It is not too late. Do it now.