Mark Burns (pastor)

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Mark Burns
Mark Burns (48514226041) (cropped).jpg
Burns in 2019
John Mark Burns

(1979-09-21) September 21, 1979 (age 43)
Occupation(s)Pastor, political candidate
Known forCo-founder, NOW Television Network
Political partyRepublican

John Mark Burns (born September 21, 1979) is an American evangelical minister, televangelist and political candidate who is the pastor of the Harvest Praise & Worship Center in South Carolina.[1] He was an early supporter of Donald Trump during the 2016 United States presidential election. Burns unsuccessfully ran for the United States House of Representatives in South Carolina's 4th congressional district in 2018 and 2022. Burns is co-founder of the NOW Television Network.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Burns briefly attended Southern Wesleyan University, then transferred to Tri-County Technical College, and again to North Greenville University, which he attended for one semester before dropping out.[3][4]

Education claims[edit]

Burns claimed to have held a Bachelor of Science degree from North Greenville University[5] and claimed to have served six years in the U.S. Army Reserve.[5] In August 2016, those claims were disproved by CNN.[5] Burns attended North Greenville University for one semester and did not receive a degree. Burns served from 2001 to 2005 in the South Carolina Army National Guard, rather than the Army Reserve.[6] Burns said the false claims about his life on his website were the result of the website being hacked.[7] Later, he admitted that he had lied about his education, but said he was attacked because he is "a black man supporting Donald Trump for president."[4]


Religious career[edit]

After working at a McDonald's, Burns founded a church in Easley, South Carolina, then moved into televangelism.[3]

Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign[edit]

Burns was described by Time magazine as "Donald Trump's Top Pastor"[8] and named one of the "16 People Who Shaped the 2016 Presidential Election" by Yahoo! News.[9] Burns said he had usually voted Democratic,[10] which included support for Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, saying, "I'm not ashamed to say that as a black man I wanted the first black man to enter the office."[11] He later said, in 2016, he had "seen the light."[10] Of Trump, he said "He's a smart man. He knows authenticity. I believe he knows and recognizes real character."[11]

At a Trump rally in North Carolina, Burns said that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish, "gotta get saved."[12] Burns later addressed his statement and said he had not intended to criticize Judaism and that his remarks "had nothing to do with [Sanders'] faith or religion or conversion to Christianity."[13]

Burns offered the benediction on the first day of the 2016 Republican National Convention. Before the prayer, he addressed the convention, called Trump a "man of God," and called on Republicans not to attack each other, labeling Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party the "enemy." Critics of the message, including the Interfaith Alliance, accused Burns of inserting God into partisan politics. Later, he said "If I could go back and use different wording I wouldn't have said 'enemy,' I would have said, 'political opponents.'"[14]

In August 2016, Burns was criticized after retweeting a digitally manipulated image of Hillary Clinton in blackface. Burns later stated, "I prayed that those who I offended really receive ... a sincere apology," adding that he believes that the Democratic Party uses black people for votes.[15][16][17]

2018 U.S. House election[edit]

In February 2018, Burns announced his candidacy for South Carolina's 4th congressional district in the 2018 election.[18] He ran for the seat Trey Gowdy, who was retiring from Congress, held since 2011. Burns lost during the first round, receiving 2.48% of the vote.[19]

2022 U.S. House election[edit]

In 2022, Burns unsuccessfully challenged incumbent William Timmons in the Republican primary in South Carolina's 4th congressional district.[20]


2020 election[edit]

In November 2020, during the 2020 presidential election, Burns made unsubstantiated claims of fraud. He tweeted his concern towards "those who seek to undermine the sacred election process in our democracy" and shared that "President Trump is the clear winner of this 2020 Presidential election"[21]

Storming of the United States Capitol[edit]

After the storming of the United States Capitol in January 2021 by Trump supporters, Burns was among those who advanced the idea that people associated with Antifa were responsible for the attack.[22]

LGBTQ people[edit]

In a 2022 interview with conservative commentator Stew Peters, Burns called for the arrest of supportive parents of transgender children, comparing them and pro-LGBTQ teachers to the leaders of the Hitler Youth. He further called for their conviction for treason, reminding Peters that the penalty for treason is death.[23][24]

Personal life[edit]

Burns and his wife, Tomarra Burns, have three children.[11] Burns is also the step-father to his wife's three children from a previous marriage.[25]


  1. ^ "The Harvest Praise & Worship Center of Easley, SC". Retrieved March 19, 2016.
  2. ^ "The NOW Television Network". Retrieved March 19, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Lovegrove, Jamie (March 18, 2020). "Pastor Mark Burns: From poverty to Trump supporter and now candidate for Congress". The Post and Courier. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Morin, Rebecca (September 3, 2016). "Trump surrogate admits to falsifying biographical claims". Politico.
  5. ^ a b c Tatum, Sophie (September 3, 2016). "Trump surrogate admits falsifying biographical claims". CNN. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  6. ^ Flores, Reena (September 3, 2016). "Pastor Mark Burns, Donald Trump supporter, "overstated" biography details". CBS News. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  7. ^ Blake, Aaron (September 3, 2016). "Trump backer Mark Burns's painfully bad attempts to defend his inflated resume". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  8. ^ Dias, Elizabeth; Tsai, Diane (2016). "Meet Donald Trump's Top Pastor". Time. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
  9. ^ "16 people who shaped the 2016 election: Pastor Mark Burns". Yahoo News. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  10. ^ a b Jagannathan, Meera (May 15, 2016). "Meet Donald Trump supporters from the various groups he's offended — including women, Muslims and Mexican-Americans". Daily News. New York. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
  11. ^ a b c Barnett, Ron (July 14, 2016). "Easley pastor to address Republican National Convention". Florida Today. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
  12. ^ "Pro-Trump pastor: Bernie Sanders 'gotta get saved'". CNN. Retrieved March 19, 2016.
  13. ^ "Pro-Trump Pastor Backtracks on Claim That Bernie Sanders 'Gotta Meet Jesus'". July 2, 2016. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  14. ^ Barnett, Ron. "SC pastor Mark Burns' delivers benediction at Republican National Convention". The State. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  15. ^ Gass, Nick (August 30, 2016). "Trump surrogate apologizes for Clinton blackface tweet". Politico. Retrieved August 31, 2016.
  16. ^ "Pro-Trump pastor regrets cartoon of Clinton in blackface, but "not the message"". CBS News. August 30, 2016. Retrieved August 31, 2016.
  17. ^ Bradner, Eric; Wright, David (August 30, 2016). "Trump backer apologizes for blackface tweet, but stands by message". CNN. Retrieved August 31, 2016.
  18. ^ "Outspoken pro-Trump pastor Mark Burns joins the race for Gowdy seat". NBC News.
  19. ^ "South Carolina's 4th Congressional District election, 2018". Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  20. ^ Carlin, Tim (June 15, 2022). "SC Election Results 2022: Trump-backed William Timmons wins District 4 primary". Yahoo! News. Retrieved July 7, 2022.
  21. ^ Ciliberto, Gina (November 5, 2020). "Pastors Work to Stop Evangelicals' Spread of 'Dangerous' Misinformation". Sojourners. Retrieved December 21, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. ^ Zadrozny, Brandy; Collins, Ben (January 7, 2021). "Trump loyalists push evidence-free claims that antifa activists fueled mob". NBC News. Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  23. ^ "Pro-Trump pastor wants LGBTQ "indoctrinators" executed for treason". Newsweek. June 10, 2022. Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  24. ^ Bollinger, Alex. "MAGA Congressional candidate promises to "start executing people" who support LGBTQ youth". LGBTQ Nation. Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  25. ^ Lovegrove, Jamie (March 3, 2019). "Pastor Mark Burns: From poverty to Trump supporter and now candidate for Congress". The Post and Courier.

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