Thousands of Christians have signed an online petition condemning the presidential campaign of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, accusing him of “distorting religion” for political gain.
DeSantis, long considered the Republican with the best chance to defeat former President Donald Trump in the 2024 GOP presidential primary, announced his campaign on Wednesday (May 24), choosing to announce his candidacy during a conversation with Elon Musk on a Twitter space.
DeSantis has embraced right-wing culture war issues, including opposition to LGBTQ rights, while embracing one of the nation’s strictest abortion bans to build his national profile and support among the Republican Party’s conservative base, which consists mostly of Christians.
But not all Christians accept DeSantis’ campaign.
Faithful America, a Christian group that has warned of the rise of Christian nationalism in the United States, released a petition on Wednesday condemning DeSantis’ campaign.
The petition describes DeSantis as a “proud, far-right Catholic extremist” who “frequently evokes God” while campaigning, suggesting the Florida Governor is “trying to cloak himself in religious support,” adding that DeSantis had even bragged about meeting “homophobic evangelist Franklin Graham.”
As of Saturday (May 27) morning, the petition had been signed more than 12,000 times, surpassing the original goal of 10,000 signatures.
The group has rejected the notion that DeSantis could be considered an alternative to Trump, warning that the Florida Governor would “bring his unholy Christian nationalism to the country as president.”
The petition explained that while DeSantis is representing himself as a more “traditionally religious alternative to Trump,” the Florida Governor’s politics is “just as hateful and authoritarian” as Trump’s.