A two-day ReAwaken America tour stop reawaken-america-tour-rochester-ny-canceled-main-street-armory-concern-community/65376530007/” data-ylk=”slk:canceled Monday by Rochester’s Main Street Armory” class=”link “>canceled Monday by Rochester’s Main Street Armory following public outcry is moving about 35 miles west to Batavia, Genesee County.
Non-denominational Cornerstone Church, 8020 Bank Street Road, will host ReAwaken America from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 12 and 13, according to the event’s website, thrivetimeshow.com.
Cornerstone Church Pastor Paul Doyle confirmed the booking, which he said resulted from a phone call he received late Tuesday from the office of tour organizer Clay Clark.
ReAwaken America has made at least a dozen stops nationwide. It features Michael Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador and encouraged President Donald Trump to declare martial law to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, and Roger Stone, who was found guilty of obstructing a congressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Both men received pardons from Trump.
Other speakers include vaccine-disputing doctors and QAnon adherents.
Almost immediately after it was booked at the Armory, a number of community members and politicians began calling for its cancellation. Among them was Monroe County Legislature President Sabrina Lamar, who issued a statement reading, in part: “At every stop along the way, this nationalist tour has left in its wake a trail of dangerous disinformation that can lead to increased bigotry, hate, and, at its most extreme, violence.”
Two music acts also weighed in. Grammy-nominated Japanese Breakfast canceled a Sept. 27 concert at the Armory in protest, and Rochester-based touring band Joywave threatened to boycott the venue if the event went forward. (Following its cancellation, Joywave thanked Armory owner Scott Donaldson on Twitter.)
Some Christian leaders in other cities have denounced the ReAwaken America tour as well, calling it anti-democratic and pro-violence.
Doyle said he agreed to book it because, “I believe in what they’re doing. We believe in standing for America.”
He said he is not familiar with every speaker and may even disagree with some of them.
“The bigger issue is that it was canceled,” he said, “and I’m not for that. Last I checked this is still America, and we’re supposed to have freedom to assemble and freedom to speak. I guess on principle, I didn’t want to see this event intimidated out of here, and I wanted to take a stance. And my stance is I think people should be able to decide for themselves. If they don’t want to go, they don’t have to go.”
The event will not be Cornerstone Church’s first excursion into the political realm. Over four nights under a big tent in October 2021, it hosted charismatic evangelist Mario Murillo, an outspoken Trump supporter who has pushed the false claim that widespread voter fraud caused his 2020 election defeat. Even in the face of inclement weather, Murillo’s appearances drew thousands of people from at least 16 states, The Batavian reported.
Doyle told the newspaper that despite Murillo’s well-known political views, guests were “not being converted to a political party” and that Murillo, founder of Reno, Nevada-based Mario Murillo Ministries, was there to talk about Jesus Christ.
Federal law prohibits churches with a tax-exempt status from engaging in “any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office,” as the Internal Revenue Service notes on its website.
A number of churches already have hosted ReAwaken America tour stops, and Doyle said Cornerstone Church does not endorse any political candidate. However, he did not express concern over the concept of jeopardizing Cornerstone’s tax-exempt status. “I’m not doing this to get rich,” he said.
“All of us are looking at our country and our schools, and we believe that the church should have a voice in what is happening,” he said. “We are relevant, and we’re going to talk about these issues.”
The ReAwaken America tour stop in Batavia is the only one scheduled in the Northeast.
This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: america-tour-batavia-ny-church/65379446007/” data-ylk=”slk:ReAwaken America tour stop moved to Batavia NY church” class=”link “>ReAwaken America tour stop moved to Batavia NY church