Jurgen Matthesius, the lead pastor of Awaken Church, and his family flew into San Diego on July 4, 2005. As they looked out of the plane’s window they saw fireworks, and Matthesius joked with his sons that the explosions were meant to welcome their arrival.  

Recounting this story at a political conference held at the church’s San Marcos campus in March, Matthesius said the moment gave him an opportunity to tell his wife and fellow pastor, Leanne Matthesius, and their three boys about God’s role in the founding of America and the drafting of its constitution. 

He went on to spin a lengthy biblical metaphor that cast the United States as Samson — the protector of God’s chosen people who got strength through his locks — and the Republicans-in-name-only and Democrats who seek to collectively destroy it. 

“They want (the United States) to be subject to a new world order,” Matthesius said in his thick Australian accent, but the tide was turning.  

“God said to me, ‘Do you see what’s happening in America?’” Matthesius claimed, the urgency of his words increasing with each utterance. “Do you see the patriots? Do you see the Trump flags? Do you see the ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ flags? Do you see the school boards?”  

The patriots are rising and the hair on Samson’s head is growing back, Matthesius shouted as he rapped his knuckle on the lectern. 

Matthesius’ animated performance was relatively tame compared to some speakers at the ReAwaken America conference, a traveling right-wing festival whose San Diego lineup featured Eric Trump, Michael Flynn and Roger Stone among other anti-vaccine and election fraud peddlers. One speaker claimed fried foods were satanic, while another warned not to be surprised if the “Angel of Death” showed up in Washington D.C. 

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Awaken has played a pivotal role in a new movement of conservative activists who thunder in public and at times make vaguely threatening statements toward elected officials. As the Republican Party’s influence in local politics wanes, some conservatives, sensing a vacuum in the regional power structure, have pivoted away from traditional Republican values, and toward a more hyperbolic worldview that casts them as righteous fighters against a diabolical liberal ruling class. 

Where there was once talk of limited government, low taxes and abortion, some now infuse their speeches with talk of demonic forces and child trafficking. This shift has also allowed them to appeal to a new group of activists energized by the pandemic who may not have been attracted to the old party line. 

Some of Awaken’s leaders and supporters have been regulars at County Board of Supervisors meetings, where speakers made so much noise last year that it attracted national news coverage. One man compared the government to Nazi Germany, repeatedly screaming “Heil Fauci” into the microphone before raising a copy of the Nuremberg code. He attended the ReAwaken America conference. 

Three of the church’s pastors attended the Jan. 6 events that preceded the Capitol riot and one former pastor, David Chiddick, who also owns a coffee shop in Escondido, is now running against Rep. Scott Peters in the 50th Congressional District.  

Over the past two years, several of the church’s pastors have actively spread medical misinformation at events and rallies throughout the region, and from the pulpit. The church itself has also allied with political groups looking to recruit like-minded conservatives to run for office, and others seeking positions of influence.  

That includes Louis Uridel, a dreadlocked bodybuilder arrested in May 2020 for refusing to close his gym, who ran for Oceanside mayor, as well as Sharon McKeeman and Amy Reichert, two mothers who respectively founded anti-lockdown and anti-mask groups Let Them Breathe and ReOpen San Diego. McKeeman’s organization has spearheaded challenges to state vaccine requirements, and Reichert is running for county supervisor.  

Like many in the movement, Reichert and Uridel have said they were nonpolitical until the pandemic.  

Vaccine denialism and political diatribes aren’t a bug of Matthesius’ sermons, but an integral feature. Talk of rampant election fraud, globalist cabals and genocidal elites are increasingly common in his sermons and in his social media posts.  

Awaken and Matthesius did not respond to requests for an interview. 

The increasing radicalization of the rhetoric, and the embrace of conspiracy thinking, is also an indispensable feature of the wider right-wing movement throughout California. But, as is evidenced by Matthesius and many of Awaken’s pastors, the extreme talking points are often delivered through a devout religiosity.  

The activists here have formed a motley and often surprising, but determined, coalition animated by the overwhelming feeling that something, maybe everything, is wrong, and that they must work together to oust the oppressors who are responsible. Awaken Church, and the San Diego region more broadly, has acted as an incubator and recruiting ground for some of the most energized — and organized — groups in the state. 

Awaken Church, which has five locations across San Diego county, has frequently sparred with county officials over COVID-19-related health regulations. The church has become a focal point in the regional fight against such measures, and some pastors have increasingly turned to conspiratorial rhetoric in sermons./ Photo by Jakob McWhinney
Awaken Church, which has five locations across San Diego county, has frequently sparred with county officials over COVID-19-related health regulations. The church has become a focal point in the regional fight against such measures, and some pastors have increasingly turned to conspiratorial rhetoric in sermons./ Photo by Jakob McWhinney

A New Kind of Church 

By the time the family landed in San Diego, Jurgen Matthesius and Leanne Matthesius had already spent years steeped in the evangelical megachurch tradition of Australia. The pair graduated from Hillsong College, whose global network of flashy and youthful churches has been roiled by controversy, and went on to work at another of the country’s most well-known evangelical exports — C3 Church Global. 

Like Hillsong, C3’s ultra-modern, strobe-light-tinged sermons are perfectly optimized for the age of social media. “Its target is God’s hipsters — a following of young faithful hooked on Instagram,” wrote Australian outlet 9News

It’s sold as a new kind of church. But despite the contemporary look and feel, C3 maintained older values, like the Pentecostal practice of speaking in tongues and the shunning of premarital sex and homosexuality

At C3, Matthesius and his wife rose through the ranks, until in 2004 founder Phil Pringle requested they relocate to San Diego to plant a new church. Though at first unsure about the prospect of moving to a city they’d never been to before, Matthesius said in a 2010 interview the decision to do so was “ultimately an obedience thing.” 

Awaken — then known as C3 San Diego — held its first service at Del Mar’s Marriott Hotel in August 2005, and spent years congregating in hotel lobbies, elementary and middle schools and even on the campus of the University of California San Diego. 

By 2014, after opening their first stadium-seat location in Carlsbad, the couple had been appointed to oversee C3 churches in the United States. Over the next eight years, the church grew to include five campuses across San Diego County hosting nearly 10,000 congregants in all. 

Like many pastors from the evangelical megachurch movement, Awaken’s pastors dispensed with the stuffy robes in favor of fitted tees, jeans and baseball caps. They hosted beach volleyball days, sermons for children, multi-day conferences, pricey specialized courses and even summer camps sponsored by Vitamin Water.  

Thanks to marketing videos complete with enthralled, bouncing audiences, Christian pop-rock and electronic dance music, the church was able to appeal not only to already-devout Christians, but to younger, more secular people who may not have been attracted to the Christianity of yesteryear. 

In 2017, the San Diego Reader quoted a father who said some of its services were “a shadowy youth group that aggressively targets teens by offering financial incentives to enlist other kids.” In past interviews, Matthesius has explained Awaken’s recruiting tactics by saying “the church is only ever one generation away from extinction.” 

The larger C3 organization has faced even greater scrutiny in recent years for its claims of miraculous healing abilities and exorcism of demons. An Australian news show produced a two-part series in 2019 that highlighted the church’s preaching of prosperity gospel doctrine, which promises worshippers God’s favor in exchange for more money.  

One former member said the church had brainwashed some into donating thousands of dollars.  

Matthesius has engaged in similar rhetoric. “God is the most perfect accountant,” he said at a C3 conference. “He knows everything you give and he makes sure it comes back to you with interest.” 

In January 2020, the church relaunched as Awaken Church. It partnered with the marketing company Prophetic on a full rebranding and ended up severing its ties with the C3 network. 

Just two months later, COVID-19 swept across the world. 

The crowd gathered to watch Tucker Carlson speak at Awaken’s San Marcos campus on April 2, 2022, mills around the foyer prior to the event. Awaken frequently urges their congregants to get involved in local politics, and has made it easy for them to do so by signing up for text updates that notify them of events and opportunities to take action. / Photo by Jakob McWhinney
The crowd gathered to watch Tucker Carlson speak at Awaken’s San Marcos campus on April 2, 2022, mills around the foyer prior to the event. Awaken frequently urges their congregants to get involved in local politics, and has made it easy for them to do so by signing up for text updates that notify them of events and opportunities to take action. / Photo by Jakob McWhinney

A Change Over the Pandemic 

When the pandemic hit, Awaken initially abided by county regulations and shut its doors and moved sermons online. But by June 2020, the church had reopened to the public. Over the next six months Awaken engaged in a series of skirmishes with the county. 

In July, the county sent Awaken a cease and desist order after it received video of indoor services taking place at the church. Although Matthesius said Awaken initially complied with the order, it didn’t last long. 

A month later, Awaken began holding indoor gatherings once more and continued to do so even after county officials notified the church of a series of outbreaks that had occurred at two of its campuses.  

This kicked off a tense confrontation with one local politician. Nathan Fletcher, chair of the Board of Supervisors, who took the rare step of publicly identifying the location of a specific outbreak. By then, the county had issued four cease and desist letters.  

Awaken’s pastors said they’d seen a rise in addiction, depression and suicide over the pandemic and reopened its locations to support members struggling with emotional, spiritual and mental health issues. 

But rather than tamp down its rhetoric, the church dug in in the face of government scrutiny and became more overtly political. With regional officials acting as a foil to its cause, the church received more attention than ever before.  

Awaken’s pastors became regulars on KUSI and the church began attracting big names in conservative circles — like Candace Owens, Dennis Prager, Tucker Carlson, Charlie Kirk and Simone Gold, a doctor who recently pleaded guilty to joining the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.  

During Carlson’s recent talk at Awaken Church, the Fox News host gleefully claimed he hadn’t been vaccinated against COVID-19, which elicited cheers from the congregation. 

Like others, he said he’d experienced a profound change over the pandemic and now understood there was a spiritual element to everything, especially in the official responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. He claimed these responses were harmful not only to the general population, but to the officials’ reelection prospects. 

“This is not a phenomenon that secular thinking can explain, it’s too dark,” Carlson said. 

There was no conspiracy, Carlson assured the audience, no “conference call of, like, bad people meeting on Wednesdays.” Instead, Carlson said, the “unraveling of Western Civilization” was something akin to the Jonestown massacre. 

“You’re watching leaders demand the destruction of the society they preside over. So why would you ever do that? Why would you burn down your own house? Because you’re seized by a spirit that is bigger than you, whose fruits are always destruction, suffering, chaos, pain,” he continued. 

And until the righteous can dispatch that spirit, Carlson said, “they will continue to destroy.” 

Pastors Jurgen and Leanne Matthesius finished the evening with a prayer for Tucker Carlson. The crowd gathered at Awaken Church bowed their heads as Jurgen thanked the lord for Carlson's vision and honesty on April 2, 2022./ Photo by Jakob McWhinney
Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson spoke to a crowd gathered both in the auditorium of Awaken’s San Marcos campus and in an adjacent overflow room. His speech contained all of the fiery politics of his talk show, with an extra dose of spiritual warfare./ Photo by Jakob McWhinney

‘I Know the Picture that God has for San Diego’  

Individuals who’ve attended services at Awaken have stressed that its pastoral team runs the gamut. Some have delivered sermons they’ve genuinely connected with, and some have been so extreme they’ve chosen to walk out. 

Matthesius weaves humor into his talk of spiritual warfare, and speaks with the self-assured certainty that can quickly draw people in.  

Throughout 2021, his sermons leaned ever more into the culture war as proxy for a grander spiritual war. Talk of wokeness and other right-wing buzzwords became common in his sermons. 

“My preferred pronouns are ‘Your Majesty,’” Matthesius said during an October sermon, putting his finger to his lip like a mischievous child. But the humor in his sermons is enmeshed with talk that implies the real mobilization efforts should be in the political realm. 

He’s railed, for instance, against “crazy boards of supervisors” and “rogue school boards,” saying that it was the responsibility of those who have been saved to fight against this “despot governance,” while also claiming wrongly that more people under 18 had died from COVID-19 vaccines than from the virus itself. He also asserted that vaccinated people were more likely to get the virus.  

As 2021 came and went and the COVID-19 pandemic dragged on — despite Leanne Matthesius having prophesized a premature end to the pandemic in April 2020 — Jurgen Matthesius’ rhetoric became ever more extreme.  

“I know the picture that God has for San Diego, and this ain’t it,” Matthesius preached at a Jan. 6, 2022, sermon titled “Instructions for Taking Territory.” 

He continued by denouncing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and calling out Lorena Gonzalez by name, who’d resigned her position in the California Assembly to lead the California Labor Federation the day before, and pledging to fill her now-vacant seat. He was clearly aware that his statements were cutting close to the Internal Revenue Service’s guidelines that forbid tax-exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing particular candidates.  

“Oh, God forbid we should shout,” Matthesius said. “You know what? Take my 501(c)(3). I’d rather have a shout that brings down walls than have a tax exemption status.” 

Despite Mattheisus’ assertion, there doesn’t seem to be much chance of Awaken’s tax-exempt status being revoked any time soon. Instead, he appears at times to be encouraging the perception that he’s at risk of being shut down.  

Warren Smith, president of Ministry Watch, a nonprofit organization that seeks to bring transparency and accountability to the Christian ministry, said, “the likelihood that the Internal Revenue Service is going to actually repeal an organization’s tax exempt status for prohibited speech is extraordinarily remote.”  

“It does happen from time to time,” Smith said, “but it is extraordinarily rare.” 

At times Matthesius sounds nearly indistinguishable from standard issue Q-anon talking points — a dense and conspiratorial worldview that spread rapidly during Donald Trump’s presidency. It’s something of a big tent conspiracy theory that allows its followers to riff infinitely on its main tenets, so pinning down its exact narrative can be difficult, but it largely revolves around a supposed government insider cryptically leaking top-secret information as a means of fighting back against a global cabal. It supplants traditional Democratic versus Republican politics with a sprawling battle of good versus evil raging between messianic figures like Trump, and what adherents often view as satanic and bloodthirsty liberal politicians and the secular institutions that support them. 

Matthesius, however, exists squarely in the post-Q-anon political landscape. 

He’s had his Instagram and Twitter accounts suspended and has migrated to the fledgling conservative-aligned social media platforms Gettr and TRUTH Social, and his posts routinely feature conspiratorial talk about globalist cabals, the supposed overthrowing of the 2020 election and “reprobate perverts.” 

In a recent Gettr post, he derided the Q conspiracy, labeling it a “globalist deception to paralyze the patriots from rising,” mimicking the post-Trump right’s unwillingness to sit back and “trust the plan,” as was so widely espoused during the feverish lead up to the 2020 election.  

Likewise, his attacks on LGBTQ people have also ramped up online. In another Gettr post, he bemoans that if American elections were fair, the country would be totally red, and “LGBTQ would be seen for what it is; dysfunctional destructive heresy.” 

Matthesius is clearly plugged into the fever swamp of right-wing online conspiracy thought. In sermons he preaches a popular new theory that the World Economic Forum invented the pandemic as a means to control the population and destroy the United States, but that elites are “talking about exterminating billions.”  

An attendee of an April 10, 2022, town hall with conservative gubernatorial hopeful Anthony Trimino takes a photo with the candidate in the lobby of Awaken’s Balboa campus. The church has held at least two town halls with Trimino in 2022, and multiple of their pastors have even traveled to Sacramento with him to advocate against certain state assembly bills. / Photo by Jakob McWhinney

On the Attack 

Some of what Mattheisus teaches is not necessarily new. It is a highly conspiratorial and hyper-politicized version of the old American cultural gospel of being exceptional on the world stage yet under constant attack.  

Evangelicals first began organizing politically in the 1800s, but beginning largely in the 1970s their political goals have been closely aligned with right-wing politics “including opposition to gay rights, reproductive choice and feminism,” according to a typology of American evangelicalism created by USC’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture.  

Richard Flory, the executive director of the center, said there hasn’t been an election since the early 1960s in which evangelicals didn’t vote primarily for Republican candidates.  

But the election of Donald Trump in 2016 reenergized American evangelicals to an extraordinary degree, with many viewing his victory as an opportunity to begin taking the United States back for God. 

Beth Johnson, minister at Palomar Unitarian Universalist Fellowship — and an organizer of a press conference that brought an interdenominational trio of faith leaders together to protest the ReAwaken conference in March — said Trump’s election was simply a symptom of long-simmering reactionary impulses.  

Johnson, who’s also involved in a number of civil rights organizations, called the rhetoric coming from Awaken disturbing, but unsurprising. 

She also argued that it has real consequences for communities, particularly the most vulnerable. But, she said, this strain of Christian nationalism may continue to grow more visible. 

“As we move into the possibility of a truly multicultural, multiracial democracy, the forces that rise up are forces that are threatened by this,” Johnson said. 

Flory agreed, saying evangelical groups tend to organize and push back in times of rapid social change, or whenever they feel their perceived role in society is being threatened. 

“They believe they are in battle, that cultural elites don’t like them, and are trying to put them out of business and trying to belittle their beliefs,” he said. 

But despite their historical conservatism, and the precedent for political organizing, evangelicals didn’t usually combine the political and the spiritual quite as overtly as Matthesius does in his sermons, Flory said. Based on the typology of strains of U.S. evangelicalism that Flory and his colleagues constructed for the 2018 midterm election, and later updated for the 2020 election, he said he’d largely classify Awaken as “Trumpvangelicals.” 

It is, in other words, a continuation of the religious right’s attempt to bring political power to bear.  

Indeed, in a GETTR post Matthesius said the recent leaked Supreme Court opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito that would overturn decades-old precedent established by Roe V. Wade would cause “every demon in hell” to start screeching and “reveal their human hosts.” But as is his tendency, he went a step further, saying the decision would be an end to the “bloodlust & child sacrifice” perpetrated by the globalist cabal operating through President Joe Biden. 

Flory posited that Awaken’s separation in 2020 from the larger C3 network gave the church the opportunity to increasingly blend this conspiracy thinking into its sermons.  

“You’re going to start seeing with these kinds of charismatic leaders that don’t have any controls outside of themselves, and the boards that they put together, and the pastoral staff that they put together a broader range of theology that may or may not be Christian,” Flory said. 

Rebecca Littlejohn, the pastor at Vista La Mesa Christian Church, said her denomination was founded and built around the concept of Christian unity, so to speak out is a big deal. But her deep Christian conviction, and her commitment to pluralistic democracy, compelled her to join Johnson at the press conference opposing the ReAwaken America tour and the Christian nationalism it espouses. 

“They want to rule alone, and force their faith on all the rest of us,” Littlejohn said. 

Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, people had been disoriented by the pace of change in society, Littlejohn said. But when the pandemic hit pretty much everything people relied on to be stable was pulled out from under them.  

“That’s extremely frightening,” she said. “So a voice speaking with such certainty and conviction is extremely alluring, even if what they’re saying is absolutely not supported by the facts.” 

Littlejohn said that some of the conspiracy rhetoric in Matthesius’ sermons abuses scripture and the words of Jesus to normalize a viewpoint pushed by today’s factions of the GOP.  

She said that despite the assertion by some, like Matthesius, that Christianity is under attack, in reality it always has been, and continues to be, the dominant religious framework for all the structures of U.S. society.  

“American Christianity is not under attack,” she said. “It’s on attack, in many ways.”  

Jakob McWhinney is Voice of San Diego's education reporter. He can be reached by email at jakob@vosd.org and followed on Twitter @jakobmcwhinney. Subscribe...

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  1. my lord please tell us once again how Oswald killed Kennedy and put these conspiracy nuts in their place once and for all.

  2. Religion has been declining in Europe the past thirty year
    About one percent every three years. Also it is declining in the United States. Do I really want to listen to somebody lecturer me. NO

  3. Thank you for this important story which reminds us that, for some, distortions of reality can bring comfort; just as children put fingers to ears and say la-la-la so as not to have to confront the uncomfortable.

      1. I think he means it’s a paint by numbers hit piece, hitting all the standard notes but failing to make a case outside of the echo chamber. It’s really more bias confirmation cheer-leading than journalism.

  4. I haven’t read the article yet, but please – copy editor – right in the sub-head, “some of the churches leaders” ? Ouch. “church’s”. Possessive.

  5. Thank you for this piece and exposing this church that is a danger to this community. Jurgen is awful.

  6. These people are absolute garbage. Hypocrites and anti-democracy clowns. Pounding and shoving a 2000 year old goat herding manual in our faces while following NONE of it’s principles. Awaken church is a death cult made up of dumb bigots.

  7. Just to be clear, C3, the Australian funded right-wing evangelical movement detailed in this article, is in no way related to C-3, or Citizen’s Coordinate for Century 3, San Diego’s oldest and most respected urban planning organization. Nonpartisan C-3 was founded by Lloyd Ruocco, Roger Revelle and other local community leaders in 1961, and is not a religious organization.

  8. Very interesting, the Pastor shouldn’t preach politics from the pulpit. Jesus didn’t get involved in politics when he preached he preached the kingdom of Heaven. Peter and Paul also didn’t talk politics in the epistles just morality and salvation.

    Church is supposed to lead people to become more like Jesus Christ not Donald Trump nor Joe Biden. I get preaching against immorality but at the same time you have to recognize that Trump isn’t that much of a Christian too. Trump doesn’t believe in forgiveness or repentance, he’s played around on several women, which is sun.

  9. Jakob, You might try to embrace freedom of speech for others as well as yourself. Don’t be so Mc whine e.

  10. Imagine a conservative writer doing an article on the lefts religion “abortion”

    The article would be entitled:

    How Planned Parenthood Became a Nexus of Anti-Life, Anti-Family, Anti Black/Brown Woman, Pro Eugenics, Anti Science and Left-wing Terrorist Group

    1. Bingo. As information continues to trickle out, these “medical truths” will age horribly along with this article. People everywhere are realizing that there really is a club of elites that have been controlling a debt-enslaved people, keeping them sick … not so sick to die outright, but just sick enough to need high-priced medicines. For YEARS; and programming their mind to believe things like: HCQ is dangerous, we don’t have enough water or food for the world’s population; that Bill Gates is just a nerdy philanthropist; that Bush Sr. is just a sweet old “Poppy” (ironic) 😏 and much, much, more. Is this pastor sophomoric? Probably. But is he misinformed? Hardly. The facts are available to anyone who cares enough to look for them.
      Get off Wikipedia and TikTok, Jakob, and look for the facts. Plus, remember the first rule of news reporting: print facts not opinion and let the reader make up their mind. We can’t entirely blame you. You may not have been encouraged to think for yourself in America’s sorry-excuse-for-an-education system. We did not serve you well.
      But times….they are a changin’.

      1. Perfect answer! I think this journalist is an atheist communist, who doesn’t care about facts just his own opinion. He tried to demoralize a group that finds missing and trafficked children, how sick is that?

    2. Thanks for this article. Didn’t know anything about this church. Think I’ll be progressive and join

      1. I think I’ll join too. I need a good laugh every week. It’s like going to a comedy club but for free.

  11. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authorities, resists what God has appointed, and those who will resist will incur judgement” Romans 13:1-14

    1. The first Christians, who knew Jesus, chose the lions over submitting to a false authority, not of God. When the fallen ones corrupted mans genetic, siring giants and men of renown, God brought the great deluge to cleans the earth, Noah was spared, because he was “perfect in his generations”, or genetically unaltered. I think you were alluding to the verse Romans 13 “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God:…..” Are Gates, Trump, and Newsom operating above the law “the higher powers” intended by this verse?

      1. Just illustrating that the bible is a fruit salad that christians pick and choose from, leaving the unsavory bits in the salad bowl.

  12. What happened to the separation of church and state?? This place is so money hungry and now they want to divide us even more. They know they can bring in all that Republican money. This pastor gets to live like royalty because his mega churches. It’s a crock.

    1. Exactly, separation of church and state! The state has no authority to close churches on principle. I know nothing of this pastor, or false dichotomy politics.

  13. Jakob, As you mature and go through this world I hope you look for the good in life. I don’t agree with a lot of what the this church preaches, but as I looked at my newborn children and grandchildren, I knew only God could have accomplished such marvelous happenings. I worship him for that and more in my own way. “In God we trust” made the greatest country in the world. Please look for his Gods blessings not man’s failings.

    Craig Clarke

  14. Awaken is run by a bunch of money obsessed thieves that want to know your bank account info as soon as you enter the building. They do not worship God, but they do worship Donald Trump aka the Orange Messiah.

  15. The covid vax is garbage and toxic as well. Good for them for not putting that poison in their bodies.

  16. As a former staff member, I can concur that the evidence found in this article is accurate. The systems in place of this organization are dangerous, unbiblical, and violent. This article just shows the tip of the iceberg and doesn’t share the negativity & abuse that has taken place in the last 15 years.

    They don’t play nice with other local Christian churches or even collaborate well with them. Local pastors of other megachurches have attempted to collaborate on political & biblical differences only to be denied of those conversations.

    1. I was going through a difficult time with my teenage son and was solicited by several members of C3 to come to their church. I had a personal conversation with Juergen and Leeann in their home and they told me that their oldest son was a heroin addict starting at age 16 and was still attending Heroin Anonymous at age 23. Juergen blamed his son’s addiction on his friends.As a member of a 12 step program myself I told him that my understanding of spiritual humility is that you also have to take a deeper look at yourself and what type of family dynamics may have contributed to a member of your family even becoming an addict (especially heroin at age 16!) becoming disenfranchised emotionally enough to start using. He got a really angry look on his face when I asked that and said it was Satan and other people that were at cause. He also said in the conversation gesturing to his elaborate 5 or 6 bedroom in Rancho Bernardo that his house and lifestyle were “evidence “ that he was right and that God was obviously blessing him and his work as “proof “. After this I was shunned by the other people who had been trying to convert me and my son got through his teenage difficulties when I focused on loving him through a difficult time and humbly asking God to help me be a better parent. It my humble experience that hateful remarks about people of color, women and gender preferences and politics from either side has nothing to with maturing into the image and character of Jesus Christ as well as flamboyantly telling anyone that your house and wealth is “proof” that somehow God loves you more and you and only you have a direct line to Him. “Whatever is praiseworthy and lovely and of good report speak ye of these things “ was never in any of the conversations I had when speaking with anyone in this church. You might also enjoy Netflix How to become a Cult Leader series if you’re interested in the common tactics of how some churches pull people in and how any kind of questioning the dogma by asking logical and self reflective questions of leaders of these things are dealt with. “Churchianity “ is not real Christianity and mocks the very principles of kindness and love towards others that the man from Nazareth was originally speaking about. But again, just my humble opinion and may you enjoy a personal relationship with God in whatever way works for you because it’s supposed to be just that a personal relationship.😊

  17. I read on social media that Jurgen got a 17 year old pregnant while serving as her youth minister. If this is true, WTF is up with anyone that is stupid enough to go to this Church. This doesn’t sound like a church, but a tool for groomers. Gross!

  18. Awaken pushes purely Old Testament beliefs of doom & gloom. Nothing New Testament in any of their actions, political beliefs, or how they teach their flock to treat their neighbors. What’s Christian without the teachings and beliefs of Jesus Christ? Plus, this is purely a grift to make money and climb the social ladder.

    1. That was some of the feedback provided by some of the C3 Global pastors that were connected to them prior to their exodus. A lot of old testament scriptures are taken out of context for the sake of the “first fruits,” “sacrifice,” and “offerings” to give big for their events such as Vision Builders and Pathfinders. There are countless stories of people refinancing their homes to give to the cause of this institution/agenda. Not to mention people who have tried to keep up with the luxurious and lavish lifestyles of the pastoral staff in order to have the “in” with them. They crossed a line that even C3 Global asked them not to cross. Now their covering and accountability consist of one man from Hastings, New Zealand guiding them in their biblical doctrine, hermeneutics, and how they need to approach the definition of church/state.

      1. It’s crazy how many prosperity gospel churches there are in SoCal. Everyone giving their two pounds of flesh to hopefully feed at the tithing-grift-buffet. When you see grown men wearing shiny leather loafers without socks, you know you need to high tail it out of there. Pure prosperity image mill.

  19. The truth will set you free.

    Printing the truth as if it is a lie is what this newspaper does best.

    The HogWash virus is a bio tech weapon released in China in Dec. 2019. It targets Americans out of proportion to the rest of the world.

    How do you explain that the HogWash virus has killed nearly a million Americans and today China (Mainland) is reporting 5,209 deaths from the HogWash virus?


  20. This article needs to be labeled properly as Opion not fact.
    Can you back up your facts if asked to give proof. Sadly the fact is that historically the left acts through attacks, slander. Lies, hate, bias and the power of pushing their beliefs and the right never defended themselves or bit back. Though tides are a turnin like the commenters above stated and people are seeing the importance of getting involved politically to defend the sanctity of families and living a good pure life vs showing our children all this immoral trash they are shoving down their throats for the last few decades, that its ok to use abortion as birth control, that its ok to attack others- put others down, burn businesses down with zero recourse and think they find power in writing hateful judgemental articles such as this.

    I am not a member of this church nor have I attended though I feel this article is Not journalism but purely a hateful, judgemental opinion and the writer does not write with any bias or try to truthfully research the topic before choosing to spew hate and regurgitate findings I just saw from a hateful Twitter Account attacking the church (it was easy to find since they shared this article).

    Also its easy to see the bias in the article authors comments, they shine through bright and clear.
    Sadly as a Non church attending Christian (which many people are now days) it is easy to discern between spiritual warfare and attack whenever anyone or any organization mounts against the enemy.
    In our current society where “Conspiracy Theories” come true every day I know for a fact this hate spewing article definitely is seen by the educated and those of us in the know for its face value of being an “Op Ed hate piece” and definitely like many before me have commented will Not age well.

    I really liked this website but this article is way too much for any average citizen. Why are you pushing people to hate this church Jake- that would be an article that would make more sense…. anyway I will not be reading articles here any longer, this is definitely Not a news site. Also Good Luck Jake maybe you should try writing books or biographies, persuading people to hate any person, place or church is definitely not becoming.

    1. I don’t know anything about this church, and reading this article I still don’t. VOSD did a similar smear attack on the parents who raised legitimate concerns about Coronado adopting a curriculum by a trending group who was pushing destruction of the nuclear family, and Marxism. Some of the parents attended church, which was the basis of VOSD’s smear. VOSD occasionally does some good work, but is objectively Anti-Christ. Look at all the layoffs, and folding sites. This is why. Turn back while you still can Jakob

      1. Well, the editor in chief and CEO of VOSD has stated publicly that he’s an atheist so Christians should not expect a fair coverage. There were a number of accusations in this piece that were not backed up with facts or even examples that makes it look like McWhinney has a personal agenda.

        I think VOSD tries to be fair but they’re just progressive at heart and that will always skew their coverage.

  21. Scott:

    Holy Moly! (Pun intended) In almost two-decades of reading VOSD, this was by far the most riveting, well laid out, researched long-format investigative piece I have seen gracing the site. And for good measure I beckon back to the days of Liam Dillon and the time when Andy Keatts was in his teens. Folks –mark my word, this intern kid, Jakob McWhinney – will be managing the NY Times within his career. He wrote a pristine award winning article. Scott, stop now and draft a contract before this “intern” gets away. Phenomenal job all around.

  22. Some of the people commenting sound like they are deep into this cult disguised as a church and others sound like they haven’t read a book since grade school. Anyway, I think this “church” is pretty gross and I am glad these charlatans are getting exposed. Read your Bible, people!!! Literacy rates in this country are at an all-time low and Bible literacy is declining even within the church.

  23. Dang, I wasn’t sure about this church but after reading this article I definitely want to attend! Sounds like a church that isn’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in. Rather than just sit back and let the world make non biblical decisions, they’re encouraging Christian leaders to rise up and lead the world in a biblical way. There’s not enough Christian leaders in politics which means there’s not enough Jesus in the ruling of this country. Thanks for sharing but this had the opposite effect for me and it probably will for others. Sounds like when Nathan Fletcher talked about how bad Awaken was, it grew even more. Keep writing articles like this!

  24. San Diego native here, living abroad most of my adult live. Home is Germany, with german husband who gets an excellent pension from his former employer. We have a good standard of living, and democracy, which the Germans learned from the Americans following WWII, is alive and thriving. Discourse is open and animated from the various factions, but not hateful or violent. The tacit agreement amongst all sides of any issue is that mutual respect is non negotiable, and just about everyone shares these values. Back to San Diego. Your article confirms for me what I have witnessed and sensed in our annual trips to CA, and in my ongoing reading from a multitude of sources online. The insanity of these non-thinking, emotionally reactive and gullible conspiracy theory followers, their entitledness on the basis of shaky claims to Christianity’s „true teachings“, which „their people“ i.e. Shaun Hannity, Tucker Carlson et al espouse, the self righteousness which gives them a „the end justifies the means“ approach, effectively cancelling core values like telling the truth, not causing harm to others, lifting and supporting the poor and weak, putting in the time to verify and research information before spreading it to others, bottom line the extent to which these people leaders have created terrified, angry and yet fake-religion infused rabble rousing mobs out of them, is all just horrifying. Our annual trip this summer to see my mom looms dark.

  25. It’s the article REALLY claiming to be unbiased journalism?!? That is laughable hypocrisy.

  26. Wow! This sounds like an amazing church! I had no idea there was a church that had like minded values to my own, this is awesome! Thank you so much for telling me about it! The truth will always prevail! Peace and Love God bless!

  27. I really remember those day when all churches that were always open suddenly closed down due to Covid 19. Those days are behind us thanks to the vaccines and I myself always go to church over at https://lhhouston.church/ near me here in Houston. I pray that those dark times will be over and hope we can recover.

  28. Things that haven’t aged well… LOL medical “misinformation.” Hope all the haters are up-to-date on your boosters 🙂

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