Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Fast Forward

Doug Mastriano likens his failed PA gubernatorial bid to Jews during the Holocaust

Mastriano trafficked in antisemitic tropes in last year’s race and has in the past compared abortion to the Holocaust

Doug Mastriano, a Christian nationalist state senator, recently compared his unsuccessful  2022 bid for Pennsylvania governor to Jews failed by churches that did not stand up to the Nazis. 

In an interview last Friday with a conservative talk radio host on Philadelphia talk radio station WWDB-AM 860, which was streamed live on his Facebook page, Mastriano complained that Pennsylvania churches and pastors refused to publicly back his campaign because they were afraid of the price they would pay. He quoted from Eric Metaxas’ book about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor and author who stood up to the Third Reich. 

“The majority of churches just wanted to be left alone,” Mastriano said. “They wanted to stir and muddy the waters and stood aside, and they enabled and allowed the atrocities and a Holocaust and the persecution of the Jews to happen underneath their noses.”

Heed Metaxas’ warning and be “careful about historic comparisons,” Mastriano continued, “but there is relevance to this here. Christian churches in Pennsylvania today, by and large stand aside. They dither, the leaders of these churches and pastors wring their hands afraid they might lose a few members, wring their hands because of this nebulous idea that their dear precious tax exemption will be snatched away.” 

He went on to allege a double standard, pointing to churches hosting Democratic politicians such as President Joe Biden and Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia. 

Mastriano made his conservative interpretation of Christianity central to his 2022 campaign, in which he took heat for his divisive rhetoric and association with antisemites and conspiracy theorists. He welcomed support from the founder of Gab, a social media platform that serves as an echo chamber for far-right extremists and antisemites. And he attacked Shapiro for sending his kids to a “privileged, exclusive, elite” Jewish day school.

Mastriano offended Jews in particular when he launched his campaign with the blowing of a shofar and closed it with a prayer from a Messianic rabbi — Messianic Jews believe in the divinity of Christ and are not considered Jews by mainstream Jewish institutions — and a woman who played a tribute to the tune of “If I Were a Rich Man” from Fiddler on the Roof.

In the past, Mastriano has likened Democratic gun-control proposals to Nazi policies and referred to abortion as a “barbaric holocaust.” He also appeared in a 2019 movie, “Operation Resist,” which shows him fighting several Nazis, and which some scholars have said distorts history to promote a conservative agenda.

He lost by double digits to Josh Shapiro, who is Jewish. 

“No one should be surprised that the guy who starred in a film likening abortion and gun control to Nazism would make such a grotesque comparison between his failed campaign and the Holocaust,” said Aidan Johnson, a spokesperson for American Bridge 21st Century, a group of Democrats who highlight misinformation and extremist views espoused by Republican candidates. “If you paid attention to Pennsylvania politics last cycle you know these types of antisemitic remarks are a dime a dozen for Doug Mastriano.” 

Mastriano is now considering a run for the U.S. Senate in 2024, saying he’s praying about the decision. The seat is now held by Democrat Bob Casey. On Facebook livestreams, in which he calls out the GOP establishment and updates supporters on his intentions, Mastriano has repeatedly teased an imminent announcement.

Mastriano didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

A message from our editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren

We're building on 127 years of independent journalism to help you develop deeper connections to what it means to be Jewish today.

With so much at stake for the Jewish people right now — war, rising antisemitism, a high-stakes U.S. presidential election — American Jews depend on the Forward's perspective, integrity and courage.

—  Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief 

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.