Andrew Wommack wasn’t kidding back in 2021 when he called his followers to “take over” Woodland Park, the mountain town of 8,000 west of Colorado Springs that’s home to his ministry and Charis Bible College.
“This county ought to be totally dominated by believers,” Wommack said. “We have enough people here in this school we could elect anybody we want. We could take over this place.”
His chosen candidates made it onto the city council, including one Charis graduate who said his faith prohibited him from voting to update the town’s comprehensive plan. They also took over the local school district, launching changes that have spurred a major pushback and led many teachers and administrators to quit.
As one local newspaper reported, “If there was an award for the volume of lawsuits filed against a school district entity, the Woodland Park RE-2 board may just be in the running for a new record, with a trend that recently has averaged at least one major suit per week.”
But ruling his hometown is just the beginning for Wommack, an ambitious health and wealth preacher who dreams of “Reforming the Nations.” He wants his followers to take over other towns and cities as part of his “7 Mountain Mandate” that says Christians should have dominion over unbelievers in all seven areas of life: religion, family, education, government, business, the news media, and the arts.
Wommack and others will hail the Woodland Park model at the annual gathering for his political nonprofit, Truth and Liberty Coalition.
The Sept. 7-9 event features debunked historian David Barton of WallBuilders, U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, and a new musical stage production “Overturned,” which celebrates the historic Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. The event may be streamed free.
Healing for some
Wommack didn’t attend seminary. He isn’t ordained or sanctioned by any Christian denomination. His ministries never have joined the evangelical networks NEA, NRB or ECFA. He simply teaches “the revelation God has given me,” focusing on healing, prosperity and, increasingly, conservative politics.
“The heart of Andrew Wommack Ministries is to see people set free from sickness, disease and pain,” says a ministry website. Testimonies claim many people have experienced healing from autism, fibromyalgia, Lyme disease and lupus.
Those who aren’t healed can blame themselves, he says. “I can guarantee you God has provided healing. And if we get sick, it’s not God who failed, it’s me that failed.”
Wommack called COVID a hoax “hyped by liberals as an opportunity to come against Trump,” and declared he never could picture Jesus wearing a mask. He opposed and filed lawsuits over state COVID restrictions, called local health officials the “Gestapo,” and hosted big events that violated restrictions, causing two major COVID outbreaks.
Wommack declared he never could picture Jesus wearing a mask.
He was dismissive of community criticism. “We recognize that not everyone in the Woodland Park community is walking in faith about health and healing,” he said a Charis Q&A.
Teaching prosperity, dealing with debt
Wommack says 1968 was when “God rang my bell.” He founded his radio ministry a decade later. He had less than $2 million in annual revenue through the mid-’90s. After putting his program on TV, revenue soared to $68 million by 2019.
That was the last year the ministry publicly released any financial information. One leader claims revenue now exceeds $100 million.
Wommack frequently quotes Jesus during the extended solicitations that can take up half or more of his Gospel Truth broadcasts. “God is called El Shaddai, not El Cheapo,” he said in one show. “He is not a tightwad, and he will take care of you better than you take care of yourself. You need to start giving.”
“God is called El Shaddai, not El Cheapo.”
Wommack pledged he wouldn’t go into debt to create Charis before changing his mind. Building the $99 million campus racked up $25.9 million in debt, earning Wommack a No. 1 ranking on MinistryWatch’s list of ministries with negative net worth. The shortfall led Wommack to bail out of a pledge made a decade earlier that Charis would pay taxes on its student housing. He and his wife are paid half a million dollars a year.
Wommack, who never graduated from high school or attended college, founded the unaccredited, two-year Charis Bible College in 1994 to teach practical ministry. It currently has about 700 students and boasts a global chain of dozens of satellite campuses launched by Charis graduates.
Wommack teaches America was founded by Christians as a Christian nation, and he applies his dualistic theology to battles between Republicans and Democrats, calling liberals “demon-possessed’ and “evil.”
He teaches that Christ’s Great Commission, which has inspired evangelists and missionaries around the world to share the gospel, covers nations and governments, not just individuals.
“Revival is not coming through the prayer closet,” said one speaker at the 2020 Truth and Liberty Coalition gathering. “Revival’s coming through the ballot box.”
In his 2021 call to “take over” Woodland Park, Wommack warned public schools were teaching fourth graders how to have anal sex and placing litter boxes in classrooms for students who identified as dogs or cats.
“If we got two or three Christians on the school board, we can stop this,” he said. “There’s only 25,000 people in our whole county, and often, school board elections will be won by 100 people.”
He was right. His candidates prevailed that fall. And as Colorado Public Radio reported, immediately made profound changes with no stakeholder input, including:
- Declining to pursue grants to fund the district’s mental health workers, social workers and therapists.
- Becoming the first (and so far, only) public school district in the U.S. to adopt the controversial American Birthright social studies standard, which had been rejected by the state’s board of education.
- Hiring a divisive superintendent who was recalled from the Castle Rock schools north of Colorado Springs for similar curriculum changes.
- Transferring a veteran teacher who complained, instituting a gag order covering all district employees, and firing another teacher who allegedly violated the gag order.
- Publicly proselytizing for Christianity in official meetings and correspondence.
In previously unreleased recordings, the district’s attorney said stealth and speed were part of the plan for instituting unpopular policies.
“I’ve gone through many, many cycles in Colorado, because we don’t have a majority in a lot of places,” said Brad Miller. “And so, when we grab it, it’s quick.”
Wommack arranged for busloads of 100 Charis students to arrive early at the school board meeting where the new superintendent was elected, excluding hundreds of local parents and teachers who objected to the board’s controversial candidate.
“Chaos ensues as parents and teachers barred from entering superintendent vote,” reported the local Fox affiliate. ““We have every right to go into that meeting,” said Charis student Bari Bell. “We’re showing up to show that we are concerned about a lot of the issues that are happening in the school.”
Brad Miller, the district’s attorney, claims credit for persuading The Federalist, a conservative outlet, to run a more upbeat story about the chaotic board meeting: “Teachers Unions Swarm Small-Town Conservative School Board That Dares To Reform Public Ed.”
Friends and enemies
Wommack strategically partners with a number of powerful conservative Christian activist groups, including well-known large groups such as Focus on the Family and the Focus-aligned groups Alliance Defending Freedom and Family Research Council.
Wommack also partners with lesser-known groups including the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, which calls itself “the first national association of Christian elected officials serving at the local, state and federal level in the history of the United States.”
MyFaithVotes will be one of five Strategic Partner Spotlight sessions at this year’s Truth and Liberty gathering. The group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and is prohibited by the IRS from making “public statements of position on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office,” but MFV regularly violates these rules, which are rarely enforced. The group claims credit for targeting the voters who helped elect Gov. Glenn Youngkin in Virginia.
But Wommack makes enemies, too. And his heartless rhetoric about homosexuality forced celebrity broadcasters Tony Dungy and James Brown to back away after years of speaking at Wommack’s annual spring men’s conference.
Many Americans grieved after a gunman killed five people and injured 18 at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ club last November. Not Wommack, who used the next evening’s nightly Truth and Liberty podcast to complain about overly sympathetic news coverage of homosexuals.
Dungy and Brown had no choice after the Colorado Times Recorder reported Wommack’s words: “It seems like homosexuality … it seems like that’s the tip of the spear. It’s the thing that Satan is ramming through. Nobody wants to condemn homosexuals. And, you know, just yesterday we had a shooting in Colorado Springs where there five people in a gay bar that were killed, and then I heard 18 people injured. … Nobody likes to see violence like that, and I’m not endorsing it, but our Fox station that I was watching, they just went overboard talking about how we need to be in one with these people, and we certainly need to condemn the violence and stuff, but it seems like if you speak out against homosexuality, they’re linking you with somebody that’s going to go in and kill people and stuff. And so, I think this is one of the major threats of the devil.”
This article originally appeared in Baptist News Global.