If you pay attention to the religious symbolism evoked by MAGA crowds during rallies, protests, and campaign events during—and since—the Jan. 6 insurrection, you’ll notice a few common themes: Donald Trump is a messianic figure, Jesus Christ is a Trump supporter, and the Bible inspires violence in the name of fighting agents of Satan.
But you can also find symbolic items that, in a realm of American politics that can veer dangerously near (and often, directly into) white supremacy and antisemitism, may seem strangely non-Christian. For example, the shofar.
The shofar, a ritualistic musical horn most often made from a ram’s horn, has been used in Jewish ceremonies and festivals for centuries. Conservative evangelical Christians have begun to adopt the shofar as a symbol of spiritual warfare, inspired by the biblical retelling of the siege of Jericho.
Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race and a staunch Christian nationalist, announced his candidacy with a shofar blast.
There were also shofars at Black Lives Matter counterprotests and at Sean Feucht’s COVID-related “worship protests.” Militia members in Oregon blew shofars as “battle trumpets.” (To be fair, more progressive groups also blew shofars to protest family separations.) Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race and a staunch Christian nationalist, announced his candidacy with a shofar blast (from a “Pastor Don”), and later complained that he was “lambasted” for “having too much Jewish symbology in our announcement.” Some of the shofars are decked out in patriotic colors. They’re blown in ways that just feel right to the users, not following any ritualistic script.
The story of how Christian nationalists linked “spiritual warfare”—winning souls for Christ—to actual violence on behalf of Trump is a serious one. But there’s something a little funny about the militarized shofars showing up at Stop the Steal events: They’re often unusually large.