La Jolla native and Fox News star Tucker Carlson will appear at a San Marcos megachurch in April, according to social media posts Saturday by host Awaken Church.
Carlson, whose top-rated show triggers outrage on the left and fandom on the right, is set to speak at 6 p.m. April 2 for tickets priced from $30 to $5,000 (for front-row VIP seating)— plus $20 parking.
Times of San Diego has reached out to co-pastors Jurgen and Leanne Matthesius, Australian natives and founders of the five-campus church, as well as Carlson, his speakers bureau and Fox News for details. None responded.
Awaken Church, formerly known as C3 San Diego, has stirred controversy with previous guest speakers, including Turning Point USA founder and conservative radio host Charlie Kirk and Dr. Simone Gold, founder of the anti-vaccine conspiracy group America’s Frontline Doctors.
(Gold recently reached an agreement to plead guilty to charges connected to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot. Six weeks after the insurrection, she spoke at Awaken Church in San Marcos.)
Carlson, mentioned as a potential 2024 presidential candidate, moved to La Jolla with his family when he was in first grade. His father, Dick Carlson, ran unsuccessfully against incumbent Mayor Roger Hedgecock in 1984.
Carlson has been attacked for stances on COVID-19, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and expressing what the Anti-Defamation League labeled antisemitic and “amplification of white supremacist talking points.”
Plans for any protests were unknown — but were being urged on social media.
In November 2020, Jacobin magazine said Carlson charged more than $70,000 per appearance.
Last September, Coast News reported that Awaken Church was collecting ballots from congregants in the recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom and encouraging members to “Vote yes to recall Gavin Newsom” during church events and on social media.
Such political activity has offended some people.
On Yelp, one reviewer in June 2021 posted: “Extremely right wing, so if you aren’t a Trump supporter, you won’t be welcome. They have special guest speakers, like CANDACE OWENS !! Politics at church !?!?”
The reviewer said she walked out when she heard sermons “that we didn’t need Critical Race Theory taught in schools, or accept things like homosexuals and transgender people. The whole thing was about MONEY, and I didn’t feel Jesus anywhere there.”
Jurgen Matthesius, who often replies on Yelp, answered the reviewer: “Our church definitely doesn’t shy away from politics, so you are correct that that was present. Our church is open to people from all walks of life, and we don’t discriminate in any actionable way. On the other hand we also don’t shy away from preaching the truth in love, and we understand that sometimes that offends people.”
According to opensecrets.org, Matthesius donates to GOP causes, including $1,000 in September 2020 to state Assembly candidate June Yang Cutter, who lost to Brian Maienschein in the 77th District by 11 percentage points.
According to its website, Awaken Church arose “from humble beginnings meeting in hotels, school gymnasiums, performing arts centers, and at one point a hotel parking lot. … We focus on showing everyone the love, redemption and salvation of Jesus Christ by caring passionately about people and connecting them to the one true God.”
On Yelp, one reviewer sang Awaken’s praises:
“No church is perfect, because churches are built by imperfect people, but this church is pretty dang close. … This church was a breath of fresh air… as a conservative women in California I felt alone and lost in my beliefs, I knew people who preached about the gospel but few that lived it. This church is not afraid to speak the truth!!!”
Would-be buyers of Tucker Carlson tickets are told: “ALL SALES, PURCHASES AND PARTIAL PURCHASES/DEPOSITS UNDER A PAYMENT PLAN ARE FINAL, NON-REFUNDABLE AND NONTRANSFERABLE. NO REFUNDS, NO EXCHANGES, NO RESALE, NOT REDEEMABLE FOR CASH. IF YOU FAIL, FOR ANY REASON, THERE ARE NO REFUNDS OR EXCHANGES FOR ILLNESSES, EMERGENCIES OR ANY OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES AFFECTING YOUR ATTENDANCE AT THE EVENT.”
Updated at 2 p.m. March 1, 2022