SC Politics

Will Folks: Upstate South Carolina Activist Brings ‘Fire And Brimstone’ To Republican Delegation Meeting

Johnnelle Raines: “Violence seems tempting …”

Earlier this week, Upstate conservative activist Johnnelle Raines gave a fiery speech to the Pickens county legislative delegation – one which excoriated its Republican members for allegedly conspiring with “leftist Marxists.”

Raines’ speech began by quoting several passages from Scripture, including one which – at first glance – would seem to encourage violence by Christian conservatives.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth,” Raines told the delegation, quoting the words of Jesus Christ as recorded in the gospel of Matthew. “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

This verse seems difficult to reconcile with Christ’s ministry of love, peace and forgiveness – including his “blessed are the peacemakers” exhortation, which was offered only five chapters earlier in the same gospel.

Nor, frankly, does the verse seem to be the most quote-worthy passage of Scripture during times such as these (more on that momentarily).

First, though … what’s the deal with this verse?

I have always taken the reference to “the sword” to mean the word of God – or the teachings of Christ – which is what the apostle Paul affirmed in his letter to the church at Ephesus.

“Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God,” Paul wrote.

The context surrounding the passage would seem to reinforce this interpretation. After referencing the “sword,” Christ subsequently discussed how his ministry would “set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

As if mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws required any additional friction, right?

This is to say some people will receive the gospel of Christ, others will reject it – and that there will always be conflict between the two camps. Often, this conflict leads to violence (you know, like the crusades).

It often leads to conflict between competing Christian sects … including many “Christians” who have burned other Christians at the stake.

Of course as my pastor told me this week, “the church isn’t called to do violence, but it might suffer violence.”

My pastor also wisely pointed out such violence was “a result of, but not the purpose of” Christ coming into the world.

So … was violence on Raines’ mind when she delivered her fiery speech to Upstate lawmakers this week?

(Click to view)

(Via: Facebook)

In her remarks, Raines (above) certainly hinted that it could follow from GOP lawmakers’ “aiding and abetting our domestic enemies the Democrats who are seeking to overthrow our Republic and institute socialism.”

“It’s appalling what you good ole boys will do to go along to get along with the enemy,” Raines said. “This must end now! Stop it … just stop it … do you want to see people riot in Columbia?”

“We have had it up to here!” Raines added. “And we are frustrated to the point that violence seems tempting and our only solution as did our founders.”

Whoa …

On the same day Raines was delivering her speech to the Pickens delegation, leaders of a new limited government group – Veritas Voice and American Reformation – presented a demand letter to members of the Greenville county legislative delegation.

As my news outlet reported earlier this week, this letter also included some fiery, foreboding rhetoric about what would happen if the state’s political leaders failed to adhere to the group’s demands.



“Failure of South Carolina Lawmakers, government leadership, agencies, and departments to recognize and validate these facts, will automatically create an environment that will likely become a public safety hazard to all South Carolinians,” leader Jon McMakin wrote. “Pressurized emotional buildup of South Carolinians, over time, will be released or retracted, concordant to governments of South Carolina decisions to restore or restrict the People’s Liberty.”

Given my libertarian, limited government leanings, FITSNews is inclined to support many of the policy positions advanced by groups like this … however, my website has consistently stood against violence as a means of advancing them.

“Such acts or threats delegitimize these movements in our eyes … to say nothing of making hypocrites of their leaders,” my website opined this week. “After all, no one arguing on behalf of liberty can threaten its deprivation to others as part of their agenda.”

According to our sources, Raines is particularly incensed that a “known liberal (Black Lives Matter) social justice activist” – Lillian Boatwright of Pickens, S.C. – was recently appointed to the county election board.

“There were plenty of other Democrats you could have appointed (who) were not social justice warriors,” Raines said in her speech. “And you know for a fact none of you would have rubber-stamped me as an election board member because you know my conservative bias … yet you all did not try hard enough to get the governor to remove her.”

(Click to view)

(Via: Text)

Boatwright (above) did not immediately respond to FITSNews request for comment regarding this story, however her name was recently brought up in the context of an ongoing S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) inquiry related to an anonymous mailing that was allegedly sent to her workplace.

Raines told me she had not been contacted by SLED about any anonymous mailings. When I asked her whether she mailed an anonymous packet to Boatwright’s employer, she responded “absolutely NOT.”

However, I’m told some of the information included in the packet was “identical” to information an ally of Raines handed out at a recent election commission meeting.

I wasn’t able to get an update from my SLED sources regarding the status of any inquiries related to Boatwright, but I hope to have an update on that front soon. So check back for updates.

In the meantime, Raines isn’t backing down from her fiery speech – in which she asserted that “Democrats ARE our domestic enemy … they are aligned with (a)vowed Marxists, BLM and anarchist Antifa who indeed want mob rule.”


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“EXACTLY WHAT IS ‘DECENT’ about reaching across the aisle with colleagues who are fine with murdering babies and wanting to bring our Constitutional Republic down and institute Marxism and socialism?” she asked me in a follow-up exchange. “What is ‘DECENT’ about reaching across the aisle with colleagues who want to remove our first and second amendments?”

Again, I am not disagreeing with Raines on any of the positions she holds near and dear to her heart. FITSNews has spent the past thirteen years advocating for life, liberty and limited government – and will continue to do so as long as I am its editor. In fact, this news outlet has unapologetically defended free speech and rebuked censorship the aftermath of the violent rioting that rocked Washington, D.C. last week.

Amazingly, these have become “controversial” positions of late … as has the defense of religious liberty.

In fact, I am far more sympathetic to Raines’ frustrations regarding alleged electoral fraud than she might imagine … which is the focus of another larger “think piece” I am working up at the moment related to the recent violence at the capitol.

Where Raines and I differ, though, is in our belief that violence should be engaged (or even entertained) as an option for advancing these beliefs.

That is a bridge too far for me …

Similarly, I do not believe disagreements on issues must lead to the wholesale demonization of individuals with whom I disagree. In fact, I believe the opposite – that we should work with everyone where there is common ground. Sadly, such a view is becoming increasingly uncommon among people of all political persuasions these days.


Will Folks is the founding editor of the website you are currently reading. For more of his columns, click here.



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