Contained in the Christian Nationalist Church The place Proud Boys Go to be Baptized

Photo of author

By Calvin S. Nelson


Pastor Hansel Orzame leads his “Praying Patriots” at a latest Sunday service on the Ekklesia: Unwoke Church” in Pomona, California (Screenshot from livestream of service)

On a latest Sunday, a person wearing basketball shorts and a black and yellow T-shirt that learn “FIGHT CLUB” was summoned to the entrance of a employed occasion house in Pomona, California, and invited to climb into an inflatable bathtub to be baptized. The baptism, which was streamed on Fb, was led by Pastor Hansel Orzame, a 44-year-old southern Californian and a self-identified Christian Nationalist who leads “Ekklesia; The Unwoke Church.” The service was held within the 800-square foot “Wonderwall House,” which, with its uncovered brick and Christmas lights, advertises itself as very best for child showers and engagement photograph shoots. However twice a month, Orzame’s flock—who he calls “Praying Patriots”—assembles there to wish. The Praying Patriot who was baptized on this latest Sunday in February was named Andrew. Sitting within the bathtub in his garments, he spoke right into a microphone that Orzame held for him, his voice cracking with emotion. Andrew, who has Proud Boy insignia in his private Telegram profile, defined that he’d not too long ago discovered God and discovered that “true masculinity is in Christ.” “Christ had the most important cojones,” mentioned Andrew. “Being males of Christ is being actual males. So let’s be actual males.” One other man being baptized that day was launched by Orzame as “a warrior.” “As you understand, political rallies can get somewhat bodily, somewhat spicy,” Orzame mentioned. “I’ve seen this man do wonderful issues on the market.” 

“Christ had the most important cojones. Being males of Christ is being actual males. So let’s be actual males.”

Orzame’s church has harnessed a rising tide of Christian nationalism, which claims that America is a essentially Christian nation, and that “patriots” are in a “religious battle” towards nefarious, even Satanic, forces who wish to subvert the nation’s cultural and political establishments. “Christian nationalists simply wish to return to the best way it was, Christian values and Christian ethics,” he instructed his followers in response to a newly-released trailer for the documentary “God and Nation,” concerning the disturbing rise of Christian nationalism.“We don’t wish to jail Muslims, we don’t wish to jail Atheists. However we would like the Christian commonplace again. Secular authorities introduces paganism. It’s only a stopgap for paganism.” 

Praying Patriots gather for a Sunday service at Ekklesia: The Unwoke Church (screenshot from Facebook livestream)

Praying Patriots collect for a Sunday service at Ekklesia: The Unwoke Church (screenshot from Fb livestream)

Within the final 4 years, church buildings that fuse rabid nationalism with Christianity have sprung up nationwide, thumbing their noses on the tax breaks provided by 501c3 standing, which has traditionally incentivized pastors to no less than preserve the phantasm of protecting politics out of the pulpit. There’s even an internet site, “MyChurchFinder” that ascribes a letter score to church buildings primarily based on their pastor’s stage of Christian nationalist views. Orzame’s church obtained an A: “Biblically sound, Culturally Conscious & Legislatively Energetic.” “We can not beat these globalists, this globohomo machine alone,” Orzame appealed to God in a latest prayer broadcast on the streaming platform Rumble. “We want Your energy. We want Your steerage. We want methods from heaven and God.” Orzame’s rising profile in southern California’s far-right scene, and his intensive hyperlinks to the Proud Boys, is the most recent indication that the gang and their allies are more and more looking for spiritual justifications for his or her continued tradition battle actions, at the same time as their uniformed public appearances have waned. The Armed Battle Location and Occasion Knowledge Undertaking, which tracks extremism and unrest worldwide, discovered that because the Jan. 6. Capitol riot, Proud Boys have been extra prone to seem in public alongside Christian nationalist and conservative teams in comparison with years previous to 2021, once they usually aligned themselves with militias. A 40-person personal Telegram channel, leaked to VICE Information by native researchers, gives some perception into Orzame’s core Praying Patriots congregation. Amongst them is no less than one identified Proud Boy, Louie Flores, in addition to far-right activist Bryce Henson, an active-duty Navy Seal who was not too long ago investigated and exonerated for his ties to extremist teams. (He’s, nonetheless, set to be disciplined for making threats in the direction of native impartial journalists and activists, based on KPBS). Some members of the channel have specific neo-Nazi or white supremacist imagery of their profiles. Orzame makes use of the Telegram channel to broadcast his upcoming appearances; not too long ago, he mentioned he’d be at a faculty board assembly to protest LGBTQ-inclusive insurance policies, an effort that has preoccupied southern California’s far-right for the final two years. These appearances usually devolve into violent brawls. “THIS IS GROOMING BEHAVIOR,” Orzame wrote earlier than a go to to Don Lugo Excessive College in Chino, the place college board members had been set to approve a coverage that requires directors to inform a scholar’s household if the coed identifies as transgender. “Please pray for me and the lads which are to be my safety.” He additionally posts hyperlinks to his sermons on Rumble and DLive; the latter platform permits him to gather donations within the type of tokens bought, or bitcoin. Forward of 1 sermon in December, he suggested the opposite members of the chat to keep away from utilizing Proud Boy slogans resembling “POYB” (Pleased with Your Boy”) and “Uhuru” (a Swahili phrase that means “Freedom” that Proud Boys have co-opted as their rallying cry). “We’ll fly underneath the radar,” wrote Orzame. Do you could have data to share about Hansel Orzame’s church or about far-right organizing in California? Electronic mail to share ideas.A sermon in September featured John Kinsman, a Proud Boy who simply accomplished a four-year jail sentence for his involvement in a violent road brawl with antifascists in Manhattan in 2018. Kinsman instructed Orzame that he, too, had not too long ago discovered God. He described a dream he had in jail, through which he was sitting on the bathroom smoking a cigarette and visited by a Christ-like determine who instructed him God had “large plans” for him. Final Might, Orzame’s visitor was Tony Moon, who goes by “Rooftop Korean” and has been a mainstay of violent far-right demonstrations round Los Angeles in the previous few years. Moon was filmed at a 2021 protest swinging a titanium water bottle at a journalist’s head. He has additionally appeared for in-person companies on the Ekklesia Church. Orzame was born in Manila and moved along with his dad and mom to southern California when he was a baby. His father, who he describes as “primarily based,” works as a dentist, and owns a $1.4 million house in Covina; Orzame has held baptisms in his dad’s swimming pool. Orzame has claimed he beforehand labored as a producer within the grownup movie trade, and even appeared briefly as a speaking head in a documentary concerning the risks of porn that was bankrolled by a fundamentalist Christian group. VICE was unable to independently confirm his stint within the grownup movie trade. As Orzame tells it, his first stint as a non secular chief was as a youth pastor at Gospel Life Group in Walnut, in Los Angeles County, simply 8 miles from Pomona. He bought his formal coaching on the Potter’s Home of Ministry, a global pentecostal spiritual group that’s confronted a number of accusations of being a cult.Orzame didn’t reply to VICE Information’ request for remark, however claims on the Ekklesia web site that whereas serving as pastor for a Christian membership at a grad college, he encountered “satanic imagery” scrawled on whiteboards and was finally “kicked off of campus for proselytizing.” His ties to the far proper date again to no less than 2017; that yr he was current when far-right teams together with Patriot Prayer—a Christian nationalist group identified for allying with Proud Boys—assembled for “Free Speech Week” at UC Berkeley and ended up scrapping with leftist protesters.In February 2018, Orzame traveled to San Diego for a so-called “Patriot Picnic,” a part of a sequence of protests towards murals in an area park celebrating Mexican-American and Aztec tradition. Orzame was photographed sporting a tactical vest with the phrase “pastor” emblazoned on his chest and was later arrested for urinating on a mural. Native antifascists obtained leaked planning chats that confirmed protesters discussing the weapons they had been bringing to the protest, with Orzame responding approvingly. In 2019, alongside along with his spouse, he based Ekklesia.Although he denies being a Proud Boy himself, Orzame makes no secret of his fondness for the gang. He routinely promotes Proud Boy content material on his social media pages, together with movies by Proud Boy founder Gavin McInnes and fundraisers to assist Proud Boys dealing with expenses associated to the Capitol riot on Jan. 6. Orzame’s insistence that he’s not truly a Proud Boy, in addition to the truth that he typically retains his palms clear by not getting instantly concerned in violent melees at protests, means he doesn’t have the identical baggage as a few of his mates in his group chat. Consequently, he’s been in a position to construct inroads into extra “mainstream”—comparatively talking—political circles in southern California. For instance, he describes Siaka Massaquoi, an actor and the vice chair of the Los Angeles County GOP committee, “an in depth pal.” Massaquoi, who was arrested at Hollywood’s Burbank airport in December on expenses linked to the Jan. 6 riot, has appeared on Orzame’s broadcast twice within the final six months. In that livestream, Massaquoi and Orzame mirrored on a rally hosted by “Depart Our Youngsters Alone,” a coalition of far-right activists, which resulted in brawls with pro-LGBTQ counter-protesters outdoors Los Angeles Unified College District’s headquarters. Massaquoi steered that it is likely to be poor optics for the anti-grooming contingent to maintain moving into scrapes with counter-protesters at these types of occasions. “We have now to be strategic,” he mentioned. “I believe we must always deal with this as a army operation,” Orzame mentioned. “I’m not calling for violence, okay? I’m simply saying that is religious warfare.” “It’s a battle for all the pieces,” mentioned Massaquoi.  “Some individuals are going to be concerned in bodily altercations, and there is some people who find themselves going to die.” 

“I believe we must always deal with this as a army operation. I’m not calling for violence, okay? I’m simply saying that is religious warfare.”

Orzame can also be the “chaplain” for a brand new group referred to as G3 (God, Weapons, and Authorities). G3 is run by Netty Chow, who grew to become an area movie star in Orange County in 2020 when she coordinated “prayer walks” in defiance of COVID-19 lockdowns. Additionally main G3 is Jon Matthews, a long-time conservative activist with deep ties to the Eagle Discussion board, which was shaped in 1972 as a retrogressive counterweight to the ladies’s liberation motion. Final July, G3 hosted an “Election Reform Summit” that drew an array of right-wing influencers, together with MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, the person who ran the hassle to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and Toni Shuppe, a QAnon adjoining election denier and key ally of Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who ran an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate in 2022. The next month G3 paid for Ormaze to journey to Missouri for a convention on election fraud hosted by Lindell. There, Orzame mentioned he met with Gen. Mike Flynn, who allegedly instructed him he was a “large fan” of the Ekklesia Unwoke Church. “He says ‘good job guys grasp in there,’” Orzame wrote within the Telegram channel. And most not too long ago, Orzame attended an in-person convention in Orange County hosted by the California chapter of the Election Integrity Undertaking, a bunch devoted to sniffing out voter fraud claims that’s now holding conferences throughout the state to recruit “citizen observers” who can “observe and doc” the upcoming major election. Orzame might need constructed an area repute on offering religious that means to the lives of southern California’s bruisers—to native left-wing activists, he’s generally known as “The Proud Boys Pastor.” But when his latest actions are something to go by, he’s now seeking to capitalize off a few of his new relationships from the tradition battle scene and increase his attain, past the fringes, and into MAGA-world. Disclosure: Gavin McInnes, who based the Proud Boys in 2016, was a co-founder of VICE in 1994. He left the corporate in 2008 and has had no involvement since then.

Leave a Comment