The Gospel According to Roger Stone
Thousands of people poured into Washington, D.C. for the Jericho March on December 12, an ecumenical prayer rally to protest the alleged theft of the presidential election. Emceed by evangelical author Eric Metaxas, the gathering featured Catholic clergy (including an archbishop), Protestant pastors, Messianic Jews, an Orthodox speaker, and a man honking vigorously on a star-spangled shofar created just for Donald J. Trump, who buzzed the crowd in Marine One on his way to Andrews Air Force Base. (“That’s not the Messiah, that’s just the President,” Metaxas clarified.) Many speakers, including MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, shared prophetic dreams and visions about Trump.
Then Roger Stone showed up on the Jumbotron, speaking via livestream. “It was Jesus Christ who gave our president Donald Trump the courage and the compassion to save my life when I was unfairly and illegally targeted in the Mueller witch hunt,” he said. The crowd roared their approval.
Perhaps nobody encapsulates the strange fusion of Trumpism and Christianity better than 68-year-old Roger Stone, the infamous political dirty trickster who has worked on GOP campaigns since the 1970s. Stone, whose career was the subject of the 2017 Netflix documentary Get Me Roger Stone, has worked for Nixon, Reagan, Bush, and Trump. According to Stone, he’ll do anything that isn’t illegal—but after the Mueller investigation in November 2019, he was convicted on seven felony counts, including lying to investigators and witness tampering. On February 20, he was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison. Five months later, Donald Trump commuted his sentence. Between his sentence and his pardon, Stone claims he decided to embrace Christianity. I reached him by Zoom to ask him how it all came about.
Stone was raised Catholic by strict parents, but after he headed to Washington and got involved in politics, he promptly abandoned church. A proud libertine, he was famously busted advertising in swinger magazines with his wife in the 1990s and forced to resign his position with Bob Dole’s presidential campaign. His return to the Church, Stone told me, was a result of the “persecution” he faced from Mueller’s “dirty cops” who “targeted me for explicitly political purposes.” Stone carefully curates his testimony for a Christian audience, referring to his prosecutors as his “persecutors,” stating that their attempts to get him to flip on the president would cause him to “bear false witness,” and sprinkling liberal references to “the Lord” throughout.
As Stone tells it, his arrest (a ridiculous spectacle in which 29 FBI agents surrounded his house and frogmarched his deaf wife onto the street in a nightgown and bare feet as CNN cameras rolled) and prosecution were the turning point. “I became very depressed, very angry,” he told me, baring his teeth like a cornered possum. “I kind of hit rock bottom, and a number of friends told me it was time for me to renew my faith in Christ in this crisis.” Alice Butler Short, founder of Virginia Women for Trump, gave him a Bible. At a GOP event, Pastor Randy Coggins “began counseling me to reach out to the Lord” and became his spiritual advisor. Coggins would eventually call on the president to pardon Stone: “Roger has stood tall for President for over 30 years—now I ask President Trump to stand tall for him.”
Coggins arranged for Stone to meet Franklin Graham in January. When he was 12, Stone saw Billy Graham preach at a crusade in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and met Graham again in 1971 when he was working for Nixon. The son, Stone said, did not disappoint. “Graham told me he’d put in a good word for me with the president, but the most important thing I could do would be to turn to Jesus.” At Graham’s revival event in Florida, the evangelist called on those in the crowd who wished to be saved to stand up and repeat a prayer. “I did, because it felt like the right thing to do,” Stone explained. “I turned the whole thing over to the Big Man. I prayed every day that he would deliver me from my persecutors.” He exited the event in a flurry of selfies and autographs as fans approached him. It was just like a rally.
I asked Stone what he thought the fruits of his decision had been. “I got right with Jesus on a Saturday and on Monday the story about the egregious conduct by the jury forewoman in my case was all over the newspapers, the fact that she had been attacking me and Donald Trump in social media posts.” Stone is certain that he would have died of COVID-19 in jail due to his history of asthma. “I was days away from reporting to a federal prison that I think was the death penalty,” he told me. “I have no doubt whatsoever that the Lord gave the president the strength, courage, and wisdom to do the right thing and it has upset the American Left ever since. But for Donald Trump and Jesus Christ, I would not be with you today.”
Stone says he’s trying to be a good Catholic—although he hasn’t changed his libertarian stances on social issues. He’s now pro-life, but the frequent Pride participant holds the same views on LGBT issues. “I’ve been in favor of same-sex marriage. That’s still my position. I think you can be a Christian and be gay, most definitely.” The main change in his life, Stone says, is that he will not be seeking revenge on his persecutors. “The old Roger Stone would be looking for payback,” he noted with a grimace. “That’s how politics works. That’s one of the key tenets of Trumpism: hit me, and I’m going to hit you back twice as hard.” He cites prosecutor Aaron Zelinksy. “These people are evil, they’re corrupt, and they will get their just desserts—but not from Roger Stone. From the Lord,” Stone said, comforting himself. “The Lord will take his vengeance on Zelinksy sooner or later.”
When I asked Stone about his view of the prophetic visions cited at the Jericho March, he had a bizarre answer at the ready. “There is a very famous evangelist named Kim Clement,” he told me. “He made a number of prophecies. He correctly predicted the election of a man named Donald, who would come from the East, from New York. He correctly predicted the failed impeachment. He saw all of this. In his prophecy, he says that just as David was saved by a simple stone which he picked up and flung at Goliath. The country will be saved by a Stone, he says. Remember that name, Clement says.” Some Christians think all of this is “mumbo-jumbo,” Stone admitted. “They’re entitled to be wrong.”
Stone isn’t sure if he’s the Stone Clement was referring to, but he’s clearly leaning heavily in that direction. “God will tell me what He wants me to do when He wants me to do it. I have been a strong supporter of the Stop the Steal movement. I think my life was spared for some greater purpose, and maybe I am that Stone. In an earlier prophecy, Clement sees a man named Clark, who is also involved in this epic struggle to save America. Clark and Stone are supposed to work together. I have now recently met a gentleman named Clark. He’s as dedicated to saving this country as I am. We’re not claiming to be special. We’re open to whatever it is God wants us to do.” When I asked him how he’ll know what that is, Stone wasn’t concerned. “Perhaps it’s a dream. Perhaps it’s an idea that pops in your head as you’re walking down the street…if it happens, I’ll know.”
In short, Roger Stone is ready to save America. Has he really swapped dirty tricks for the Catholicism of his parents and the weird prophecies of Trumpian Protestants? As many religious figures fold their faith into their politics and merge Christianity into what the Gospel Coalition referred to as the “Cult of Christian Trumpism,” Stone doesn’t really have to choose. He can have his cake and eat it too. Switch the political language with religious language, and the narrative remains the same—accompanied with visions and prophecies that Southern Baptist theologian Al Mohler, who voted for Trump, called “troubling” and Rod Dreher more succinctly called “bonkers.” Many Christian leaders who have buttressed their support for Trump with alleged messages from God are being faced with the reality that they were mistaken, and that God’s plans differed from theirs—and are responding by refashioning reality to conform to their subjective experiences instead. Religion is being press-ganged into political service, and Stone is here for it.
I thanked the hard-nosed political operative for taking the time to speak with me. “God bless you,” says Roger Stone.
Jonathon Van Maren is a public speaker, writer, and pro-life activist. His commentary has appeared in National Review, The European Conservative, the National Post, and elsewhere. Jonathon is the author of The Culture War and Seeing Is Believing: Why Our Culture Must Face the Victims of Abortion as well as the co-author with Blaise Alleyne of A Guide to Discussing Assisted Suicide.