A controversial conservative conference in Redmond called the Reawaken America Tour, whose organizers felt they did not have to follow mask policies, has been canceled and moved to Salem.
The event, which was scheduled for the beginning of April, features high-profile conservatives known for spreading election misinformation and COVID-19 misinformation.
Clay Clark, the organizer of the event and host of the conservative podcast ThriveTime show, confirmed on Tuesday that the conference is being moved to The River Church in Salem. It was originally scheduled to be held at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center.
Tickets to the Redmond event, which were $250, will not be refunded, which is the event’s usual policy, Clark said.
Clark said that statements about Deschutes County intending to enforce the state’s mask mandate did not play a part in the decision to move it.
“I try to have all of (the Reawaken America Tour events) at churches,” Clark said.
The decision comes days after the tour made headlines after emails showed a planner of the event, claimed two Deschutes County commissioners assured the event organizers that the state’s mask mandate wouldn’t be enforced. Deschutes County officials and Commissioner Tony DeBone denied making any kind of assurance, and Commissioner Patti Adair in a text assured that the mask mandate would be enforced, but did not elaborate on her communication with event organizers.
Clark said he had no knowledge of any conversations between event staff and the venue.
The majority of previous Reawaken America Tour events, which have happened all over the country since last year, have happened in churches because they are considered “revivals” rather than a traditional event, Clark said. He said The River Church reached out to him and offered to host it there.
The pastor of the church, Lew Wooten, has vocally opposed vaccines, according to reporting from The Salem Reporter.
The event includes numerous high profile supporters of former President Donald Trump, including Gen. Michael Flynn, who was pardoned after his conviction lying about connections to a Russian diplomat, and Roger Stone, who was convicted of obstructing a congressional investigation and later pardoned by Trump. It also includes vaccine skeptics and others known for spreading election misinformation.
–Brenna Visser/Bend Bulletin