Eric Metaxas is a prominent voice on the evangelical right who uses his radio show on Salem Media to promote a radical belief in the need for far-right Christians to control the government and enforce religious-based policies. In June 2023 alone, Metaxas repeatedly demonized the LGBTQ community, made deeply inappropriate comparisons to Nazi Germany and the lead up to the Holocaust, and advised his listeners that they must engage in right-wing culture wars or else risk judgment for failing in their Christian duties.
From Veggietales to the Jericho Marches
Eric Metaxas got his start as a writer of numerous children’s books and the Christian children’s cartoon Veggietales. For much of his career Metaxas worked as a Christian writer, occasionally showing up in major outlets. Despite criticizing — and even mocking — Donald Trump in the past, since officially joining Salem Media Group, Metaxas has become an ardent supporter of the former president, and even punched an anti-Trump protestor at the 2020 Republican National Convention.
As a thought leader and emcee for the far-right Christian Jericho Marches, a religious-based protest movement against nonexistent election fraud, Metaxas called to overturn the results of the 2020 election just weeks before the Capitol insurrection on January 6, 2021. The group was co-founded by Robert Weaver, the failed Trump nominee for director of the Indian Health Service, and Arina Grossu, a member of the anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council, and it held D.C. marches on December 10, 2020, and January 5, 2021, attracting thousands of estimated participants.
Some have suggested that these marches laid the groundwork for the Capitol insurrection. Many of the figures who played a pivotal role on January 6 were also speakers at the marches, including Stop the Steal founder Ali Alexander and Oath Keepers founder and seditious conspirator Stuart Rhodes.
Metaxas and Salem Media: a recipe for Christian nationalism
Since the January 6 attempted coup, Metaxas has continued to blend far-right ideals with his Christian beliefs, and he has become well-connected in right-wing media. On his Salem Media radio show, he has hosted notable figures like right-wing provocateur Roger Stone, former Trump national security advisor and QAnon supporter Michael Flynn, and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO).
Metaxas also has a growing role in Turning Point USA, founded by fellow Salem Media host Charlie Kirk. Metaxas has attended multiple TPUSA conferences, including the recent TPUSA Pastors Summit in May, which featured speakers who flagrantly espoused Christian nationalist rhetoric.
Salem Media is a long-standing conservative Christian media outlet focused primarily on its radio stations. The network claims to own and operate over 100 radio stations and has 3,200 affiliate stations, reaching over 11 million listeners. Salem also runs an extensive podcasting network and has its own streaming platform. The conservative Christian network pressured its hosts to cover Trump positively and purged those who did not.
Metaxas is a prominent supporter of the ideals of Christian nationalism, the false notion that America is a fundamentally Christian nation and must be governed by right-wing Christian beliefs. By insisting that the success of the conservative movement and Christianity are tied, Metaxas co-opts elements of the Christian faith to promote far-right policy. He weaponizes Christian beliefs to fearmonger against the LGBTQ community and particularly the trans community, directly insisting that for Christians to “be on the sidelines” is to be “deluded” and “helping evil.” By this logic, failure to enact harsh right-wing policies or go after targets of right-wing outrage is to fail God.
In one instance on his show, Metaxas redefined the concepts of church and state to justify pushing policy based on religious beliefs:
ERIC METAXAS (HOST): We're not talking about theocracy. On the contrary, the principles in the Bible lead to freedom, which is to say religious freedom, which is to say everyone is genuinely free to believe as they like, not to believe.
But the point is that the separation of church and state refers to the opposite of what most people think it does. It refers to separating the church and state, to protect the church to be the church, not to protect the state from the infiltration of Christians.
You know what happens when Christians infiltrate? They abolish slavery. They abolish Jim Crow laws. When Christians infiltrate, when Christians get involved, which is utterly constitutional and legal and protected by our founding documents, good things happen for everybody.
When the church thinks like, you know what, we're going to be on the sidelines. Folks, if you're on the sidelines, you know who is with you on the sidelines? The devil is with you.
Metaxas used Christianity to scare viewers into political action
Throughout June, Metaxas instructed his listeners to advocate for right-wing culture war issues, warning that a failure to do so would represent a failure to perform their duty as Christians. Here are a number of examples:
- Metaxas pressed Christians to “take that faith” and “bring it into every sphere” after accusing members of the Christian church of not doing enough. He claimed “Much of the church has been coasting along, and we've really allowed hell free rein in the culture, in the education. We've got to take it back. It's not just enough to get people saved or to read our Bibles. Like that's the beginning. And then we've got to take that faith and we've got to bring it into every sphere.”
- Metaxas warned listeners that they would be “held responsible” if they are part of a church that does not ascribe to the beliefs he espoused. He stated, “If you're going to a church that isn't awake to this, you need to get out because we're going to be held responsible.”
- Metaxas threatened his listeners that they would play a role in the decline of America if they did not become right-wing Christian activists. He told them, “If you don’t do it, you’re responsible for things going to hell in a handbasket.”
- Metaxas argued that a free and functional society is not possible because some Democrats “do not believe in good or evil” or the Judeo-Christian God. He ranted: “But when you have figures in that party and figures in the culture now undermining the very basics, saying that, look, we don't believe in good or evil, we don't believe in God, we don't believe in — from those principles, you can't get a free and a just and a self-governing society. You just can't.”
Metaxas demonized the trans community and anyone who would show them support
Metaxas has made repeated attacks on the LGBTQ, and specifically trans, community on his radio show. He described trans people as mentally ill and as going against the will of God. Furthermore, Metaxas attacked those who do not share his views on trans people, claiming that they are part of the problem. Here are some examples of these attacks:
- Metaxas attacked those who do not demonize trans people and described the trans community as being “at war with God’s reality.” He further claimed trans people wish to deify themselves, and stated, “The reality of God creating us male and female is something that is offensive to them, because what it really does is it tells them, ‘You are not God.’”
- Metaxas advocated for homeschooling children if they come out as trans and accused public school teachers of abusing children. He ranted, “Children are being abused by government-paid teachers in public schools” and “being drawn into conversations that are utterly inappropriate for children.”
- Metaxas compared Christians not actively revolting over “LGBTQ stuff” to “the story of Nazi Germany.” He elaborated, “We kind of think that the religious thing is to play it safe, to not take a position. That is the doctrine of devils. That's exactly what the devil did in Germany, just to get just enough pastors in the middle to say, you know what, I don't want any trouble. I'm not going to take political sides.”
- Metaxas called the L.A. Dodgers’ Pride activities “demonic.” He then claimed that refusing to boycott companies that promote Pride is “participating in our own destruction.”
- Metaxas accused the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a queer advocacy group dating back to 1979, of being “satanic.” He stated, “When the L.A. Dodgers … would honor a group that is satanic. There's no other word, ladies and gentlemen; it is satanic.”
- Metaxas claimed the trans movement is a “war on reality and on nature” and part of a greater “war on God.”
- Metaxas attacked people who affirm trans identities. He claimed that supporting trans people represents “a perverted view of loving people by agreeing with their madness.”
Metaxas regularly relied on offensive comparisons to Nazis in his rhetoric
Metaxas makes comparison to Nazi Germany a staple of his rhetoric. Throughout June, he focused much of his Nazi-connected ire on Pride month.
“This event happens, and before the smoke clears, we are using the opportunity—and I’m not talking about the Biden administration; I’m talking about the Democratic establishment and the media—instantly seizing on it to demonize, in the harshest terms, anyone who would support Trump. That just blew my mind. I thought: You don’t do that in America. That’s what the Nazis did with the Reichstag fire. Before the smoke cleared, they had already figured out who they were going to blame.”
Over the course of Pride month he made multiple allusions to Nazi Germany as well, accusing those celebrating of being like the German citizens who did not speak out against death camps during the Holocaust. In one instance, he mockingly accused Bud Light employees of being willing participants in the Holocaust, because the company sent a personalized can of beer to trans TikTok influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Here are a number of examples:
- Eric Metaxas attacked religious institutions that do not directly engage in his political culture wars and compared them to allies of the Nazis. He said: “The idea that pastors and churches around this country have been deluded into thinking that it's safe to be on the sidelines. Folks, if you are not involved in this in one way or the other, … you're working for the other side. There is no neutral ground. You are helping the Nazis to win.”
- Metaxas chastised listeners for not being sufficiently radical in their opposition to Pride month before jumping into a Nazi Germany comparison. He stated, “You need to wake up or you're complicit,” and, “If the Germans had woken up five minutes earlier to the wickedness of the Nazis and stood against it, it would have prevented the satanic nightmare of the death camps. But they said, not yet. We're not radical. Not yet. We don't — we don't want to — we don't want to go up against it.”
- Metaxas compared employees at Bud Light to Nazis. He stated, “Corporations that have no values and they're like, ‘Oh, what do we need to do? Put a transgendered dude on to become the face of Bud Light? OK, we'll do that. Do I have to say heil Hitler? Sing the Horst-Wessel-Lied? What do I need to do? How pro-Nazi do I need to be? How many Jews do I need to kill or look the other way?’ They have no values.”
- Metaxas compared supporting Pride month to expressing patriotism in Nazi Germany. He complained, “The pressure to go along with this is just absolutely horrific. And it is something that you're — it's like you're being accused of not being patriotic or something, but it's like not being accused of a patriotic German under Hitler.”