At a recent conference of pastors from across the country hosted by Charlie Kirk’s Turning Point USA, speakers promoted Christian nationalist ideas and pushed right-wing talking points about the LGBTQ community, the education system, and diversity initiatives.
In multiple cases, speakers suggested death is an acceptable punishment for promoting supposed leftist ideology or even staying silent against it.
In late May, the “faith” branch of Turning Point hosted “1,100 pastors and wives” at its Pastors Summit in Nashville, Tennessee. The three-day-long summit came under fire for partnering with a registered sex offender and promoting extreme Christian fundamentalist ideology, specifically encouraging the church to push for Supreme Court cases while the court has a conservative majority.
Kirk’s organization has recently increased its promotion of Christian fundamentalist ideology by pushing churches to become more politically active and partnering, through its “faith” arm, with groups that push Christian nationalism. One such partnership — with Christian nationalist preacher Sean Feucht — has Turning Point sponsoring a 50-state tour of “revivals” at state houses and asserting that Christians should be writing all laws.
Calls for action (including death) against abortion, LGBTQ acceptance, and critical race theory in schools
A major theme for speakers was calling for action against ideology not directly aligned with right-wing Christianity. Speaking about abortion, pastor Bill Federer referenced Leviticus 20, paraphrasing the verse to declare that anyone who sacrifices a baby is to be “put to death.” Federer claimed if “they're killing babies in the community and the church member is silent, the church member is giving consent to killing babies,” then implying that those who give such consent are also guilty of sacrifice.
Federer also claimed there is a split between Christians going in the “evil direction” or staying silent on abortion and LGBTQ issues and those going in “God’s direction” and speaking out against them.
Other speakers referenced a verse from Matthew 18 that calls for any adult who causes a child to sin should “have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
Turning Point Faith co-founder Rob McCoy and Turning Point Academy’s chief of education, Hutz Hertzberg, both referenced the verse in claiming the church has been silent on cultural issues, implying that Christians who allow children to be exposed to LGBTQ people or critical race theory should be drowned.
In a conversation with anti-LGBTQ conservative grifter Riley Gaines about transgender people, McCoy referenced the verse, claiming when the church is “tacit,” “with our silence we're in agreement” with critical race theory and LGBTQ issues, “and if we allow one of these to stumble these children it's better for us to have a millstone tied around our neck and cast in the deepest ocean.”
Gaines claimed Christians have been “peaceful for too long” about LGBTQ issues and have to “stand firm in the truth above anything.”
Hertzberg repeated Federer’s ideas about Matthew 18 and asked the audience: “But as I've been thinking of that, those that perpetrate this on these children, it also made me think, what about us? … Am I guilty by not doing anything?”
Hertzberg called on pastors to “take the lead in the total education of the children” as “there's nothing less than the hearts and the souls of our children and ultimately our nation” at stake.
Complaints about the education system and living in a multicultural country with LGBTQ people
Anti-transgender remarks abounded during speeches at the convention. In conversation with Lindsay, Kirk said distinctions between genders “actually keep us free” and Lindsay claimed transitioning genders is “hermeticism” or “alchemy.”
Lindsay also repeated his absurd claim that the left is intentionally provoking Christians to create a “Drag Floyd” — a “sympathetic story” in which a drag queen is hurt or killed by “conservative Christians” — and have another “summer of — I think the word is love” in which “every institution you can imagine bend[s] at the knee … as the response to this.”
Salem Radio host Eric Metaxas called the trans movement “evil” and claimed more people understand that “something is off” in our country because of the LGBTQ community.
During his speech, Federer told the audience it’s important to “correct” your loved ones who think they’re transgender: “They're trying to tell you, oh if you just love your kid while they're going through their transsexual thing, just love them. No, you love them and you correct them.”
Speakers also attacked Pride Month. Kirk went on a rant against the use of the rainbow during Pride and claimed. “We’re basically under imperialistic colonization occupation” during Pride Month.
In his tirade against trans people, Metaxas also suggested Target’s line of pride merchandise is evidence that “something is deeply sick in America.”
Various speakers addressed concerns about indoctrination of children in the classroom. TPUSA Academy’s Hertzberg claimed that “what is taking place in schools across the nation” is “nothing other than child abuse.”
Hertzberg went on to disparagingly list an assortment of ideas that he claims are being taught in the classroom such as “marriage is a relationship between loving committed people regardless of gender” and “all sex is good sex as long as everyone consents.”
He also called the absence of Christian education in society unfortunate and claimed the majority of children’s education “is a confluence of woke ideology, indoctrination, sexual grooming, and emotional abuse.”
During a panel on the origins of critical race theory, Michael O’Fallon, founder of the conservative media site Sovereign Nations, baselessly claimed that the World Economic Forum and similar government entities pushed pastors into promoting critical race theory in order to make Christians less conservative.
David Barton, a pseudo historian well-known for spreading the idea that the country was supposed to be a Christian nation, applauded churches and Christians for getting more involved with education and school boards during a speech in which he argued for incorporating Christmas and the country’s motto, “In God We Trust,” back into schools. He also encouraged students to push for prayers in school because “it’s OK to have prayer in schools if students lead it.”
Fox’s Hegseth spoke after Barton and called himself a “survivor of a progressive, godless education” and claimed that “we have absolutely given away the classroom to progressives, humanists, atheists, secularists, socialists, Marxists, and communists.”
Racist ideology was also common. Kirk suggested that calls for a more diverse church are “not Christianity” and are evidence of “something very dark.” In the same conversation, Lindsay told Kirk that leftists claim that “racism is systematic” in order to “seize the means of cultural production and rise up and overthrow, to take over the production of man.” Lindsay also claimed that the church member who “throws his foot down” against anyone calling for diversity will be called “white supremacists” even though they are “obviously” talking about “Marxists.”
While criticizing the church for its supposed passiveness in recent years, Kirk told the audience that pastors who delivered sermons about racism and Black Lives Matter during 2020 need to repent “because that is what is necessary for some of the sermons that they delivered in that summer.”
Overt displays of Christian nationalist ideology
McCoy claimed that “if we don’t get liberty right, we will be arguing our theological differences from prison.” Then he insisted there is a “concerted effort” to label Christians as Christian nationalists and “create legislation to silence you and then ultimately arrest you.”
Michael Knowles called Christianity “the only political revolution that has ever really mattered.”
In his opening remarks, Kirk addressed a Rolling Stone piece noting TPUSA's fundamentalist vision. Kirk declared, “I am both a Christian and a nationalist, but most importantly I am a Christian.”
He also criticized Rolling Stone for writing that fundamentalism is a threat to democracy, stating, “First of all we're a republic, not a democracy. Let's just make sure we're clear.”
Barton used his time on stage to push historical inaccuracies. Barton told the summit audience that “the Bible is the number one source of the ideas we had in the founding era,” though historians claim the founders’ ideas came from European Enlightenment philosophers. Barton also pushed the idea of including Christian symbols and language in civic life in schools and other government institutions.
The summit also featured former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and pastor Steve Berger, whose panel focused on encouraging pastors to get involved with politics including frequently reaching out to their representatives in Congress.
Meadows told the audience that “elected members of Congress, they need the Lord and their savior Jesus Christ and they need to be ministered each and every day” and encouraged pastors to call their politicians regularly.
Berger had his own extreme ideas to push, including calling out Christians for their supposed lack of involvement in politics in recent years, which he said “created a vacuum the devil came and was happy to fill.” He then called on Christians to “retake our kingdom, territory, and responsibility.”
Speakers projecting Christian fundamentalist ideas made comparisons between the modern left and Nazi Germany. Metaxas repeatedly implied that globalism is similar to the Nazi state, claiming an account he heard of a pastor in Nazi Germany seemed “familiar,” like he can “smell this around the corner in my country.”
Metaxas also claimed although nationalism is bad under Hitler it’s OK in America because “we have become the most free country in the history of the world.” Metaxas went on to call “cancel culture” and “bullying” by the Nazis “similar” to what we’re seeing now from the left and equate “woke” pastors to “utterly Nazi” pastors.
Kirk also made comparisons to Nazi Germany during his opening talk, claiming that “they want a passive church, they want an obedient church” like Nazis did.