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8 Christian Conservatives Who Promoted False Claims of a ‘Stolen Election’

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By Steve Rabey, Religion Unplugged

(ANALYSIS) “Silly.” “Bogus.” “Complete nonsense.” “Crazy.” “Indefensible.” “Bullshit.” That’s how members of former President Trump’s inner circle described his relentless stories about a rigged and stolen election during this month’s hearings of the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“Without merit.” “Mere speculation and conjecture.” “Gossip and innuendo.” “Wholly unreliable.” “Implausible.” “Hazy and nebulous.” That’s how judges responded to 61 election lawsuits filed by Trump’s legal teams.

Meanwhile, conservative Christian influencers used their media platforms to promote these false claims about the election to believers. Here’s a look at eight of the most prominent promoters of the former president’s lies.

Sidney Powell

Powell is an attorney who represented Michael Flynn, Trump’s one-time national security advisor. She told a Christian Television Network host that she is a Christian, a woman of prayer, and a vessel of the Holy Spirit.

“God hates deceit, and truth is the armor of God,” she said, “so I’ve always felt like as long as I stand for truth and all I want is truth, then I’m definitely wearing the armor of God.”

On Nov. 8, 2020, five days after the election, she claimed without evidence on Fox News that Dominion, a major voting machine company, had used algorithms to switch votes from Trump to Biden, publicly setting in motion a conspiracy theory that others would soon join.

Dominion has sued Powell and other Christian influencers who followed in her wake. Like the others, Powell fessed up under oath, acknowledging that she never sought to verify the truth of the rigged election stories she promoted.

Instead, as she repeatedly claimed in her deposition, all her Dominion election fraud claims came straight from a previously little-known Colorado political activist and conspiracy theorist named Joe Oltmann.

Joe Oltmann

On Nov. 9, Oltmann claimed on his Conservative Daily podcast that he had listened in on an Antifa conference call featuring a Dominion Voting Systems employee who said the company would make damn sure Trump was never reelected.

Oltmann, who founded FEC United — which stands for faith, education and commerce — and leads a militia, singled out one Dominion executive for abuse in his show entitled “Exposing the Treasonous Eric Coomer the ANTIFA Member and the Director of Strategy and Security at DOMINION Voting Systems.”

“Eric Coomer, you are a traitor,” he said. “We are coming for you and your shitbag company.”

Oltmann claimed he “infiltrated” their meetings — “We infiltrated their conference calls, we got information about what they were planning to do next” — and that Dominion also rigged elections in Mongolia and Venezuela.

He has never supplied any evidence to back up his claims, which have since spread widely, and he skipped out on his scheduled deposition for the Dominion defamation suit, choosing instead to attend a rally organized by election skeptic Michael Lindell of My Pillow fame.

Chanel Rion

Rion had no journalism training or experience before she was hired as White House Correspondent for the right-of-Fox One America News Network. The graduate of Patrick Henry College, which serves homeschoolers, did stories about Dominion stealing votes from Trump between Nov. 12 and 17.

Soon, Trump retweeted one of her claims: “REPORT: DOMINION DELETED 2.7 MILLION TRUMP VOTES NATIONWIDE.”

Rion also sent a tweet featuring Eric Coomer’s name, photo, and this alleged quote: “Trump is not going to win. I made f—— sure of that.” Trump retweeted that one, too.

She later did a story, “Dominion-izing the Vote,” but acknowledged in her deposition that she never reached out to Coomer to confirm the truth of any of her stories.

Michelle Malkin

The independent Catholic writer claims to have 30 years of journalism experience, but she never checked out any of Joe Oltmann’s wild claims before hosting him on her Nov. 13 livestream show, which she hyped as taking election fraud claims “from conspiracy theory to conspiracy truth!”

In tweets Malkin called Eric Coomer “an unhinged sociopath” and used the hashtag #ExposeDominion.

She did another story based on Oltmann’s claims on Nov. 28. “Hacking the Vote” ran on her short-lived “Sovereign Nation” show on Newsmax, another pro-Trump outlet. But Newsmax accompanied Malkin’s program with a disclaimer admitting it had “no evidence that Dr. Coomer interfered with Dominion voting machines or voting software in any way … nor has Newsmax found any evidence that Dr. Coomer ever participated in any conversation with members of Antifa.”

In her deposition, Malkin said she knew Oltmann from Colorado’s conservative circles but never had time to verify any of his stories about Antifa or Dominion.

Attorney: Do you believe that you have a responsibility as a journalist to put verifiable facts out, facts that can be verified?

Malkin: I believe that I have an imperative to broadcast stories that are not being covered and to give a platform to people who are being censored for disseminating what is considered dangerous or dissident information but that is of high public interest.

Jenna Ellis

Ellis is a Fellow at Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute, and she worked as director of public policy for James Dobson’s FamilyTalk/Family Institute. She joined President Trump’s legal team after Trump saw her on Fox News.

Ellis was a member of Rudy Giuliani’s “elite strike force team” that traveled around unsuccessfully prosecuting claims of stolen elections. You could see her on Nov. 19, standing behind Rudy Giuliani as the black liquid ran down his sweaty cheeks. He denounced Dominion in a press conference carried live by Fox, OAN and Newsmax.

Ellis promotes her claims of election fraud through her show on the Salem Podcast Network, her work for NewsMax and The Washington Examiner, and social media. She has been subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 House committee and a federal grand jury investigating election fraud.

James Dobson

In his Feb. 1, 2021, newsletter, the 86-year-old family values icon claimed that the 2020 election remained “unresolved” because “the Supreme Court refused to consider a carefully prepared case” alleging fraud and “didn’t review a word of the overwhelming volume of evidence.”

“Though I am not a lawyer, I join my voice with millions of citizens who are profoundly disappointed and alarmed by the Court’s failure to do its duty,” he wrote. “The issue remains unresolved and will be a blight on the history of this great nation.”

Eric Metaxas

In March, 2022, Eric Metaxas talked about how “Christians Need to Reclaim Truth for God’s Kingdom” on Andrew Wommack’s Truth & Liberty Coalition political podcast. But in the fall of 2021, Metaxas testified that he doesn’t verify anything he puts on his show, including election fraud claims he called “the greatest scandal imaginable.”

The Nov. 24 edition of the Eric Metaxas Show on Salem Broadcasting featured lengthy rants by Metaxas calling Dominion’s Eric Coomer “evil” and “Satanic” and comparing him to the Unabomber:

There’s some people that they’re learning or rather their brains can really, they’ll flirt with insanity and violence and it sounds like you’re dealing with somebody who at least begins to fall into that category. I mean, we know that Antifa is evil, that they are anti-American, that they are effectively Marxist shock troops at this point. But to have a man with this kind of power, the director of strategy and security at Dominion, huge, powerful international company. This is big news.

But in his deposition, a much quieter Metaxas admitted he does nothing to verify the truth of any of the claims he or his guests make on his show:

I’m kind of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants guy. … We don’t have the budget, bandwidth or time to do anything like that. I don’t see that as my job. … I am usually taking my guest at their word.

Salem Media Group and Dinesh D’Souza

Salem, a company specializing in Christian and conservative content, invested $4.5 million in “2000 Mules,” the latest film from Dinesh D’Souza. D’Souza is a conspiracist and provocateur who authored books for evangelical publisher Tyndale House, served as president of The King’s College — he resigned in an adultery scandal — and was convicted for making illegal campaign contributions, though he was later pardoned by Trump.

“2000 Mules” claims that human “mules” harvested ballots to steal the election for President Joe Biden and seems to provide just enough evidence to convince those inclined to believe such claims.

The film, released on May, is already a success. Salem said it has already grossed $10 million in revenue.

Steve Rabey is a veteran author and journalist who has published more than 50 books and 2,000 articles about religion, spirituality, and culture. He was an instructor at Fuller and Denver seminaries and the U.S. Air Force Academy. He and his wife Lois live in Colorado.

Editor’s note: This article was republished from Religion Unplugged under a Creative Commons license.

Steve Rabey is a veteran author and journalist who has published more than 50 books and 2,000 articles about religion, spirituality, and culture. He was an instructor at Fuller and Denver seminaries and the U.S. Air Force Academy. He and his wife Lois live in Colorado.

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