Conservative pastor J.D. Hall leads January 6 rally at Capitol

‘It’s god’s people, and everyone else’

By: - January 6, 2022 6:37 pm

Pastor J.D. Hall prays beneath the rotunda of the Montana Capitol on Jan. 6, 2022, a day commemorating the Jan. 6 attacks on the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Standing to Hall’s right is Public Service Commissioner Randy Pinocci, a Republican from Sun River. (Photo by Keith Schubert)

Around 25 people joined pastor and conservative website publisher Jordan “J.D.” Hall on a frigid Thursday at the Capitol to mark one year since the January 6 riot in Washington, D.C., which saw supporters of then-President Donald Trump breach the U.S. Capitol amid a vote in Congress to certify the presidential election in favor of Joe Biden.

Hall, a pastor at Fellowship Baptist Church in Sidney, advertised the event as “a peaceful reminder that the people own this house on a day worth remembering,” a concept that would be expressed through song, prayer and remarks from featured speakers. He explained on his website, the Montana Daily Gazette, that people would gather to honor Ashli Babbitt, a woman shot and killed by U.S. Capitol Police while attempting to get into the Speaker’s Lobby on January 6, as well as those incarcerated or charged with crimes related to the riot  — a group that includes 6 Montanans.

“What we’re doing is what we asked to do January 6,” Hall said to the small crowd Thursday. “Come into our house, that we own, and petition our government for grievances.”

Those grievances include abortions, transgender people, Republicans who have voted against legislation restricting access to gender affirming medical care for transgender people, and various other “plotting and scheming” enemies, including Democrats, the Montana Supreme Court, the press, prominent Democratic attorney Raph Graybill, and so on. Hall approached these issues with spiritual fervor, and insisted that the solution was Jesus, not politics — Democrats and heathens, they’re the ones who would call the U.S. Capitol a “sacred” place and who value politics and government over the Bible.

“It’s a battle of religions,” he said. “Those who look to Jesus as King of all Kings, and those who look at the state to provide everything for them.”

Another speaker, Pastor Steve Wagner of Whitehall, read Psalm 9, which includes lines such as “Endless ruin has overtaken my enemies,  you have uprooted their cities, even the memory of them has perished.”

He told a joke, after his sermon, about democracy. He said should call it “demo-crazy,” because people have gone nuts.

“It’s god’s people, and everyone else,” he said.

A posting for the event on the Daily Gazette was insistent on its peaceful nature, despite the violence of the January 6 riot it was commemorating — “no need for unauthorized tourism,” Hall said on his site. At the onset of Thursday’s proceedings in the Capitol rotunda, he asked some questions of the audience, largely, it seemed, to prove a point to the numerous reporters in the room.

He asked how many people were followers of QAnon, the far-right conspiracy theory about pedophile cabals in the highest echelons of power. One person half-raised their hand. He asked how many people hate the government. A few people raised their hand.

“Hate is a strong word,” he replied.

A pair of highway patrol troopers circled on one of the upper levels, looking down onto the rally. Hall would later acknowledge an “inordinate amount of police” but still asked the crowd to give them a round of applause.

Members of the media who gathered to witness and report the protest made up a group about a third of the size of the protesters. Hall said that about 50 people had planned on attending the event from the Flathead region, but were turned back with the strong winter weather.

There was, despite the hymns and sermons, still a clear focus on politics.

Public Service Commissioner Randy Pinocci, one of the speakers, encouraged pastors to get more involved in Montana politics, citing a pair of lawsuits involving conservative pastors in the state: One from a transgender woman and lobbyist named Adrian Jawort accusing Hall of libel, and another from Clinton pastor and realtor Brandon Huber, who is challenging a disciplinary action brought against him by the Montana Association of Realtors for ending his church’s partnership with a food bank in Missoula because a flier it distributed celebrating LGBTQ rights went against his church’s teachings.

Pinocci said he knew of legislators “that are very concerned about Christian values” who would have a bill that would somehow shield pastors from allegations of hate speech.

“I challenge pastors to pack these halls with their congregations,” he said. “I have the representatives ready to introduce the bill you need.”

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Arren Kimbel-Sannit
Arren Kimbel-Sannit

Arren Kimbel-Sannit is an Arizona-bred journalist who has covered politics, policy and power building at every level of government. Before getting his dose of northern exposure, Arren worked as a reporter in all manner of Arizona newsrooms, for the Dallas Morning News and for POLITICO in Washington, D.C. He has a special interest in how land-use decisions affect working-class people, which he displayed through reporting on the epidemic of pedestrian deaths in the U.S. for the Los Angeles Times and PBS Newshour. He's also covered housing, agriculture, the Trump presidency and more.