Religious Minorities

Turning Point USA seeks a theocracy straight out of your worst nightmares

  Rhys Long

For the Christian Nationalists in attendance at recent events sponsored by Turning Point USA, politics and religion are inseparable. And that’s a problem. Usually, when we discuss issues of church-state separation, we are fighting against the infiltration of religion into politics and government. But Charlie’ Kirk’s Turning Point Faith is now intentionally using conservative politics to fill seats at church. An American theocracy by Turning Point USA.

The problem is no longer just the proliferation of extremist religious views into conservative politics, but the widespread integration of the two.

Kirk and his contemporaries are making a concerted push to turn the political culture war into a cornerstone of religious devotion. Pastors affiliated with Kirk have used anti-woke rhetoric and branding to grow their audiences. These pastors are no longer purely religious figures, nor are their churches purely religious institutions. Instead, they are a hybrid of politics and religion, and they use their platform to push Christian Nationalism.

‘God is going to turn Arizona into a Christian state’

At a recent Turning Point-organized rally in Phoenix, Brad Baker, pastor of Dream City Church, stood at the altar and called for a United States “built on the principles of God.” He further declared his belief that “God is going to turn Arizona into a Christian state, and we will be known as a Christian state around the world.”

We must reiterate, as often as is necessary, that we do not live in a theocracy – no matter how much Christian Nationalists preach otherwise. Arizona will not be made into a Christian state, because to do so would be a fundamental betrayal of America’s founding principles. It would also be a betrayal of every citizen, Christian or otherwise, who believes in the separation of church and state.

Turning Point embraces controversial figures and draws them into their movement. Many of the big names at Turning Point Faith events or Turning Point-affiliated churches are known for ignoring COVID guidelines or for their anti-mask rhetoric. This type of figure is popular among the Christian Nationalist crowd, and these churches cater to them. After all, Christian Nationalism is increasingly becoming a demand for special treatment and the right to ignore rules that everyone else must follow.

Flouting IRS rules

One Turning Point partner church invited school board candidates to come on stage and then urged the audience to vote for them. Now, the IRS prohibits nonprofits, including churches, from endorsing political candidates – it’s the price of being tax exempt. But these organizations don’t seem to care; the pastor who invited the school board candidates on stage mocked the IRS and encouraged churchgoers to report the violation.

Operating in flagrant violation of IRS rules is never a good tactic, but Christian Nationalist churches thrive on heated anti-government rhetoric. They see secular government as the enemy of Christianity, and they don’t like a law, they seem to think they don’t have to follow it. It is ironic that these folks so frequently rail against the government – yet they’d be only too happy to use the apparatus of the state to force all of us to live under their theology.

Kirk’s melding of church and politics is a dangerous and dubious effort. He is drawing on political frustrations and melding them with religious anxiety to create a Christian Nationalist religio-political force. AU and other watchdogs must keep a close eye on these movements, as they appear to be breeding grounds for the radicalization efforts of Christian Nationalists.

Photo: Attendees rally during a 2022 Turning Point student conference in Florida. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.


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