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Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte hosts event with religious extremist

J.P. De Gance is the founder of Communio, an organization that uses social media marketing tools to push a far-right agenda.

By Jesse Valentine - March 27, 2024
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Greg Gianforte

Montana Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte hosted a prayer breakfast with J.P. De Gance, the founder of a far-right organization that has been accused of using social media to covertly push Christian nationalism.

The Montana Prayer Breakfast was held on March 16 in Helena. De Gance was listed as guest speaker and wrote about attending the event on his LinkedIn profile.

“Great adventure to Big Sky Country with my daughter over the last few days — what an encouraging experience to join Gov. Greg Gianforte for the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast,” De Gance wrote. “It was a forerunner event to our National Prayer Breakfast. Few leaders are doing more to foster healthy families in his state than Greg.”

De Gance is the founder and president of Communio, a nonprofit ministry that claims to be dedicated to strengthening marriages. On its website, Communio says it equips churches with 21st century data tools to help grow membership and improve the romantic relationships of parishioners. One such tool is microtargeting, the practice of using consumer data and demographics to show digital ads to specific individuals, especially on Facebook.

Communio helps churches identify local individuals who have used search terms or engaged in activities that are supposedly predictive of troubled relationships or divorce. These include joining a gym, purchasing TV dinners, or interacting with sexual and pornographic content. These individuals would then be shown ads for seemingly non-denominational church events, such as comedy shows or trivia nights with free babysitting. Couples that attended these events would then be pressured to attend bible studies or church retreats.

In May 2023, Communio published a study asserting that declining marriage rates were the result of premarital sex and pornography. De Gance has urged churches and lawmakers to do more to discourage these activities. Communio’s study only surveyed church attendees. 

More reliable studies have attributed declining marriage rates to women having increased economic opportunities.

This is not the first time Gianforte has flirted with extremist, Christian beliefs.

Last year, the New York Times reported that Gianforte attends a Bozeman church that rejects evolution and considers homosexuality a sin. Gianforte, who is a millionaire, has donated large sums to Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit that funds legal defenses for Christian business owners that refuse to serve same-sex couples. 

In 2021, Gianforte signed three anti-abortion bills into law, including a measure that would require a patient to receive a medically unnecessary ultrasound before obtaining an abortion. On Feb. 29, a Montana district court judge ruled the laws were unconstitutional.

Gianforte is up for reelection in November 2024.


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