CAMP HILL, Pa. (WHTM) – Approximately 1,200 people gathered at a Camp Hill church to watch “The Return of the American Patriot: The Rise of Pennsylvania” a documentary film that features Republican Pennsylvania Gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano.

The film focused on mask mandates and shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some theaters canceled their screenings despite hundreds buying tickets, movie producer Ralph Cochran told a Lancaster newspaper.

Mastriano and his wife spoke and called the crowd courageous for defying critics who assail his gubernatorial campaign.

“They lack reason,” said Mastriano of his detractors. “They lack logic, facts on their side. They don’t even know what a woman is. C’mon.”

The July 16 VIP reception gave those hundreds who attended a couple minutes with the Franklin County State Senator and his wife Rebbie, who always shares his stage and microphone. She told the congregants that she and Doug do devotions every day and that she was nervous about running for office. She says she found peace in scripture.

“Jesus actually spoke to me and said child don’t be afraid to get out of the boat,” said Rebbie Mastriano.

State Senator Mastriano opposes gay marriage and abortion exceptions. His opponent, Democratic state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, has called Mastriano extreme. Those who attended the film preview disagree.

“He’s got some Christian values that I relate to,” said Toni Patrick.

“If you’re not a wild Christian why be a Christian,” said Mastriano volunteer Jeff Boland when asked if his candidate is too Christian to be Governor of Pennsylvania. “You have to exercise your faith like that.”

“He’s fighting,” said Mary Blew of Harrisburg. “He’s not afraid to fight and tonight was about courage people standing up and people of Pennsylvania, there’s a momentum gathering.”

Chants of “Doug 4 Gov” met Mastriano in the hall ahead of the movie. The crowd gave the speaker a standing ovation was told being a Christian Nationalist meant being a patriot.

In the movie, woman said she was a Democratic Party organizer who was fired for refusing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I told them I have the right to whose what I want in my body,” said Roslyn Williams in the film, produced by Ralph Cochran and directed by Joshua Williams. Dr. Steve Turley, the founder of Turley Productions, was also credited with the film.

The four Republican leaders in the Pennsylvania General Assembly (Jake Corman, Kim Ward, Bryan Cutler, Kerry Benninghoff) were booed for not doing more to overturn what the movie called a blatantly stolen 2020 election, a claim that has not been proven. Mastriano was praised in the film for his role in the 2020 election.

“Traitors were shown for who they truly are. A patriotic alternative media and grassroots have risen up to rally the towns folks,” said the film narrator.

Gunner Ramer of the Republican Accountability PAC says Mastriano “is one of the biggest threats to democracy.” Mastriano will not only have to take on Shapiro but a number Republicans campaigning against him, as well.

“Doug Mastriano is one of the most far right extreme candidates in the country. And he’s running to be the next Governor of a crucial battleground state ahead of a presidential election in 2024.”

The race for Governor in Pennsylvania has elements beyond a state budget that draws national attention. Abortion rights and election integrity are just a few of the issues that will drive voters to the ballot box on November 8.

In June Mastriano’s lawyer told the Associated Press that Mastriano has offered to sit for an interview with the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and was interviewed by FBI agents last year.

Mastriano, a retired U.S. Army colonel who won the GOP nomination for governor last month, was seen outside the Capitol on the day of the insurrection, and he was in regular communication with Donald Trump as the then-president sought to reverse his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

Mastriano did not take reporter questions after the film premiere, but did give abc27 complete access to the event.