On Monday, President Donald Trump warned evangelical leaders that their followers could suffer should Republicans lose the majority in November’s midterm elections.

“This November 6 election is very much a referendum on not only me, it’s a referendum on your religion, it’s a referendum on free speech and the First Amendment,” Trump told pastors and other Christian figures at the White House.”

“It’s not a question of like or dislike, it’s a question that they will overturn everything that we’ve done and they will do it quickly and violently,” he said. “There is violence. When you look at Antifa… these are violent people. You have tremendous power. You have people who preach to almost 200 million people.”

Antifa refers to groups of liberal, anti-fascist counter-protesters who have fought against white nationalists and other far-right organizations over the past year.

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Following a Unite the Right white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 — where one woman died and 19 others were injured — Trump seemed to link Antifa to the counter-protesters and said there was both “blame and very fine people on both sides.”

The National Rifle Association (NRA) and other conservative organizations have also depicted Antifa protesters as lawless and violent.

Evangelicals continue to be among Trump’s most loyal supporters, even amid scandals that include the president having extramarital affairs with several women over the last decade.

In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, former FBI Special Agent Josh Campbell slammed Trump, calling him “irresponsible” for his decision to issue a warning about the potential dangers of his party losing the midterms.

“[Antifa] is a group that has been of concern. If you look at some of the rallies, they’ve obviously been out there and in some instances there has been violence but it does’t appear — coming at least from the Department of the Justice or from the FBI — that this rises to the case where this is a national pandemic that law enforcement is now combatting,” said Campbell. “I think this is pure politics, it has nothing to do with national security. Essentially it’s a dog whistle.”

Trump has previously made several pubic statements to warn his supporters of the dangers of MS-13 gang members and other violent immigrants in order to push his agenda.

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