Health and wealth teacher Andrew Wommack has long urged his followers to “take back Colorado” from the “demon-possessed” socialists and Democrats who’ve turned the state from red to blue.
Last month, that rallying cry became practical, as Wommack urged followers to take control in Woodland Park and Teller County.
“Man, as many people as we have in this school here, we ought to take over Woodland Park,” said Wommack during an April Citizen’s Academy at Charis Bible College, which was hosted by the Truth & Liberty Coalition, the 501(c)4 political organization he founded in 2017.
Charis also held a candidate’s academy this month to prepare Christians to run for office, and Wommack helped found the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, designed to “bring lawmakers together in support of clear biblical principles.”
“This county ought to be totally dominated by believers,” he said. “We have enough people here in this school we could elect anybody we want. We could take over this place.”
No one at Wommack’s organizations would answer questions, but a spokesperson issued a written statement which altered Wommack’s spoken words and framed his Citizen’s Academy comments as a generic plea for Christian involvement in government.
“Mr. Wommack said, ‘We ought to [be able to] take over Woodland Park…’ His comment was simply a recognition that followers of Christ have neglected the arena of government and that believers everywhere need to get involved and take responsibility for the welfare of their own communities.”
In his Citizen’s Academy talk, Wommack identified public education as a major concern, saying public schools now teach fourth graders how to have anal sex.
“They’re showing you how you can have homosexual sex,” he said. “It’s now in the curriculum in our schools. If we got two or three Christians on the school board, we can stop this. There’s only 25,000 people in our whole county, and often, school board elections will be won by 100 people.”
Debbie Chaves of Springs-based Colorado Family Action also spoke about education at the Citizen’s Academy, saying, “Right now in our nation, we see that education is an avenue that is being used to make sure that children’s minds are pulled away from their mom and their dad.” Chaves used an illustration that depicted public schools as a fast-moving conveyor belt promoting radical social change.
Colorado Family Action is part of a network of dozens of state-based pro-family activist groups founded by Focus on the Family.
Wommack’s various organizations raised $68 million in 2019 and currently employ nearly 500 people. Charis has a student body of over 600 students. Woodland Park has a population of over 7,500.
“Some people think, well, we shouldn’t be flexing our muscles,” said Wommack. “Well, we should. We now have a homosexual governor, we have a Senate and House that are controlled by the Democrats, and they are ramming through ungodly legislature at an unprecedented rate.”
Wommack’s call to take over Woodland Park are consistent with his teaching that Christians should have dominion over unbelievers through the "seven mountains" of influence: religion, family, education, government, media, arts and entertainment, and business.
He also teaches that "Christ’s great commission," which has inspired evangelists and missionaries around the world to share the Gospel, requires Christians to disciple nations and governments, not just individuals.
Local residents have debated Wommack’s proposed theocratic takeover in the pages of The Pikes Peak Courier.
Trina Hoefling of Florissant said the tax-exempt organization should contribute financially toward the local services it uses before trying to take control.
“Want influence?” she asked. “Pay your fair share to support our community, then perhaps Charis has a right to put their thumb on the scale.”
Retired United Methodist pastor Rodney Noel Saunders, also of Florissant, said Wommack’s plans for local control are part of what he warned local leaders about when Wommack relocated to Woodland Park from Colorado Springs in 2014.
“I think it is a cult-like group, and cult-like groups want to control everything they can,” Saunders wrote.
That letter generated a response from Richard Harris, Truth & Liberty’s executive director, and pastor of Grace and Faith Bible Church in Woodland Park.
“Retired Rev. Rodney Noel Saunders blasts Andrew Wommack for the very things that Jesus commissioned His Church to do,” wrote Harris. “Exhorting Christians to get involved in government can only be considered cult-like if the majority culture has moved so far from its biblical roots that it no longer recognizes the Judeo-Christian values upon which our country was founded.”
Wommack did not articulate a policy agenda for the city and county, but if he wants to bring public education closer to the model practiced at Charis, there could be significant changes to civics and science classes.
Charis, which is not accredited, embraces young Earth creationism, which teaches the world was created by God in the past 10,000 years. And Charis’s School of Practical Government promotes an interpretation of American history that equates the constitution with the Bible while overlooking Enlightenment influences.
Over the past year, Teller County residents have watched Charis repeatedly disobey COVID guidelines, resulting in two major coronavirus outbreaks. Wommack called local and state health officials the “Gestapo” in one Truth & Liberty broadcast.
Locals have also been able to witness a School of Practical Government graduate in action.
Robert Zuluaga was elected to the Woodland Park City Council in 2020, and The Mountain Jackpot News credits him with helping worsen the council’s divisions. His resume says he previously served as secretary of state for the "Republic for the united States," a nationwide sovereign citizen’s movement that claims the U.S. government is illegitimate.
Last year, Zuluaga voted against Woodland Park hiring a firm to update its outdated comprehensive master plan. He questioned the integrity of the firm that had proposed doing the update, and claimed the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that comprehensive plans infringe on private property rights.
“It gives authority to government employees to set the future for the citizens and I just don’t support it,” said Zuluaga of his vote against updating the master plan.
Another Charis graduate was among the Trump supporters who breeched the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
“I don’t want to say that what we’re doing is right,” said Tyler Ethridge in a video from within the Capitol. “But if the election is being stolen, what is it going to take?”
At April’s Citizen’s Academy, Wommack says Christians should quit focusing solely on their personal relationship with Christ, quit simply praying for the nation, and begin rolling up their sleeves and gain political influence.
“We are the salt and light of the earth,” he said. “We need to start being a little more salty, get out of the salt shaker, and make a difference in this world.”
Or, as the ministry’s written statement put it, “The class warfare, violence and restrictions of free speech that are being embraced by so many today are evil and contrary to Scripture. We believe that the peace and prosperity we all seek will be advanced not by the oppressive Marxist methods used under the misleading label of ‘social justice,’ but by individuals living and sharing the truths of God’s word in a free society.”