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Reporting the Truth.
Restoring the Church.

With Turning Point Faith, Pastors Use Politics As A Church-Growth Strategy

By Jack Jenkins
Turning Point Faith
Charlie Kirk, right, takes the stage during a Turning Point USA Faith “Freedom Night in America" event at Dream City Church in Phoenix, Arizona, in May 2023. (Video screen grab)

Trump rallies, replete as they are with prayer and passionate crowds, are said to have a tendency to turn into something resembling an evangelical Christian church service.

But at Phoenix’s Dream City Church, it’s the other way around.

One evening in May, hundreds gathered at the cavernous megachurch to attend “Freedom Night in America,” co-organized by Dream City’s leaders and the conservative activist group Turning Point USA. Around those buzzing about the entryway were draped innumerable variations on the U.S. flag, from traditional red, white and blue to monochrome black-and-white versions of Old Glory blazoned with the word “freedom.” Hats read simply “45” — for Donald Trump, the 45th U.S. president — and shirts carried the slogan, “Jesus is my savior, Trump is my president.”

Inside, the service was heavy on praise and worship music, much of it led by a singer in an “Uncanceled” shirt. At the altar call, Brad Baker, one of Dream City’s pastors, told the crowd he dreamed of a U.S. “built on the principles of God.”

“We’re believing that God is going to turn Arizona into a Christian state, and we will be known as a Christian state around the world — that’s our goal,” Baker said to yelps and applause.

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charlie kirk Turning Point Faith
Charlie Kirk speaks at a Turning Point USA Faith “Freedom Night in America” event at Dream City Church in Phoenix, Arizona, in May 2023. Video screen grab

The main event, however, was the pulpit talk given by Charlie Kirk, the fresh-faced 29-year-old founder of Turning Point USA. He began with an impassioned defense of Tucker Carlson, the Fox News host who had been fired days before, praising a video Carlson posted to Twitter after his show was canceled, in which he held forth the importance of truth in media.

“That is Christianity — that is the promise of Christ,” Kirk said.

Events like Dream City’s “Freedom Night” are becoming more regular at evangelical megachurches. A few weeks earlier, Kirk appeared at Awaken Church in San Marcos, California, where he listed the founding of the U.S. alongside Christ’s resurrection in a litany of the “most important events in history.” And a few weeks before that, he spoke at Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, where he chastised Christians who have “gone along” with the “environmental agenda” because of “bad theology.”

His speeches satisfy the longstanding evangelical co-mingling of right-wing politics and Christian ministry, but TPUSA is also pitching a turn toward the culture war and what critics say is Christian nationalism as a way to fill the pews — and in places like Phoenix, it looks like it’s working.

Founded in 2012 and initially targeting young, college-age conservatives, TPUSA expanded its appeal to like-minded religious voters in 2019, when Kirk teamed up with Jerry Falwell Jr., then-president of Liberty University, to create the Falkirk Center for Faith and Liberty. The center never really took off, and soon after Falwell resigned in August 2020 in the wake of multiple scandals, Kirk ended his affiliation.

The same day, he announced the launch of TPUSA Faith. Kirk has said the effort was an outgrowth of the pandemic: Other than a few churches that refused to close, “there really weren’t a lot of places for me to go and speak.”

His first stop was Godspeak Calvary Chapel of Thousand Oaks in California, headed by Pastor Rob McCoy, a former city council member and local mayor who had been a rising star in conservative evangelical circles during the early days of COVID-19. Under his leadership, Godspeak openly flouted California’s pandemic restrictions, holding in-person, maskless services that prompted a series of legal battles with county and state authorities.

According to McCoy, Kirk helped land the pastor on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show to talk about his activism. As media attention grew, Godspeak’s attendance ballooned: far from dissuading churchgoers, COVID-related controversy only raised the church’s profile — and, according to multiple accounts, packed its pews.

Pastor Rob McCoy speaks during a Turning Point USA Faith “Freedom Night in America” event at Godspeak Calvary Chapel of Thousand Oaks in California. Video screen grab

“We experienced 400% growth,” McCoy told media in a recent interview.

McCoy said he encouraged other pastors to host Kirk, who lionized congregations that refused to close as garrisons against “tyranny,” a talking point that still shows up in Kirk’s stump speeches. Eventually, McCoy became co-chair of TPUSA Faith; “We play offense with a sense of urgency to win America’s culture war,” reads a tagline on a pamphlet distributed at TPUSA events.

Matthew Boedy, a professor at the University of North Georgia who has researched TPUSA and written critically of its programs, said the organization’s pivot during the pandemic changed its orientation from “libertarian, economic, free speech” advocacy into a “Christian nationalist group,” a shift Boedy said played to Kirk’s strengths.

Currently, only a handful of churches openly affiliate with TPUSA on their websites, with a few more claiming “chapters” of Turning Point Faith or hosting a TPUSA-branded event. A related educational effort, Turning Point Academy, seeks to “offer both a classic, pro-American curriculum as well as a Christian educational programming option,” but its website cites fewer than 20 affiliated schools, including Dream City Christian, attached to Dream City Church. Roughly a third are homeschool support programs.

Even so, TPUSA Faith’s biggest success seems to be its conferences. “I said, ‘Charlie, I don’t think anybody can do a better pastors conference than you,’” McCoy recalled telling Kirk early in their partnership. They promptly began planning the TPUSA Faith Pastor’s Summit, which convened last summer in San Diego, California.

mccoy kirk Turning Point Faith
Charlie Kirk, left, and Pastor Rob McCoy speak during the TPUSA Faith First Annual Pastors Summit in 2022 in San Diego. (Video screen grab)

Pastors who associate with TPUSA often describe their embrace of Kirk’s style of activism as a spiritual cause, a perilous but necessary protest against creeping liberalism. But at the San Diego summit, passionate opposition to “wokeism” — a term pastors use to describe an array of liberal campaigns for racial justice and LGBTQ rights — was reframed as a church-growth strategy.

During a panel with McCoy, Kirk recounted the story of Godspeak’s success and insisted others could enjoy similar results.

“Some pastors will say, ‘If I speak out on this, I will lose attendance, I will lose tithes and offerings,’” Kirk said, according to video of the event. After initially shrugging off this prospect with a “So what?” Kirk doubled back, saying, “But that’s actually not true. Because I look around the room right now, (and) the pastors that I know that have taken the boldest stands over the last two years have actually seen their attendance grow. They need bigger buildings. Their tithes and offerings have increased.”

In another panel discussion, Tim Thompson, a California pastor who made headlines after he was detained while protesting against pandemic restrictions in May 2020, testified that since the protests and clashes with school boards fighting what he calls “the indoctrination of our children,” he has seen “500%” growth at his church. “God’s definitely blessed it, for sure,” Thompson said.

Other TPUSA partners have merged anti-liberal rhetoric with political defiance. Freedom Life Church in Christiana, Pennsylvania, has hosted multiple TPUSA-branded events, including a “Worldview Weekend” in April. During the gathering, senior pastor Sam Masteller asked local school board candidates to join him on stage, then urged the audience to support them — a move he suggested defied the IRS’ rule prohibiting nonprofits, including churches, from endorsing candidates.

“You say, ‘Sam, you can’t do this!’ I can,” Masteller said, after railing against transgender rights. “1-800-IRS — go ahead, call. Put it all in. I don’t care. We’re celebrating godly people. We’re promoting godly people.”

A TPUSA Faith initiative called the “Kingdom to the Capitol” tour is led by Sean Feucht, a Christian musician who earned a following during the pandemic by hosting maskless praise music concerts. The new tour stages concerts at state capitols, where Feucht makes the case for a Christian America.

“We want believers in this building writing the laws of this land,” he said at a concert in Austin, outside the Texas State Capitol.

Turning Point Faith mccoy
Pastor Rob McCoy, right, interviews Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene during the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in July 2022. (Video screen grab)

McCoy has cozied up to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia Republican who has begun describing herself as a Christian nationalist. In an interview with the congresswoman last August, McCoy grew visibly emotional as he lauded Greene, asking God to make her president and declaring that “God is a nationalist.”

Their support for forms of Christian nationalism, even if it is a way to put people in the seats, can sometimes intertwine with extremism. Among those who flocked to McCoy’s Godspeak during the pandemic was John Strand, a former underwear model who helped organize anti-lockdown “freedom rally” protests in California and served as communications director for America’s Frontline Doctors, an organization long accused of purveying COVID-19 misinformation.

In a since-deleted video recorded in December 2020 for Godspeak’s YouTube channel, Strand and Simone Gold, head of AFLDS, appeared alongside the church’s co-senior pastor for a “fireside chat.” As Strand insisted in the video that Joe Biden wasn’t rightfully elected as president, the pastor encouraged viewers to see worship at Godspeak as a “freedom rally.” 

A few weeks later, Strand and Gold were captured on video entering the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, rushing past rioters who had thrown officers to the ground moments before. Both were arrested and charged later that month. McCoy threw his support behind both, even going so far as to host an interview with Strand that ended up being used by prosecutors during his trial.

Ahead of Strand’s sentencing hearing in June of this year, McCoy stood before his church and condemned the trial as a “miscarriage of justice.” The insurrection, he said, was actually a “fed-surrection” — implying, without evidence, that federal agents were to blame for the attack on the U.S. Capitol instead of hundreds of Trump supporters.

A few weeks later, McCoy was in the courtroom in Washington as Strand was sentenced to 32 months in prison.

“It was devastating,” McCoy said.

At a TPUSA Faith pastors conference in Nashville last month, Kirk told the audience of about 1,100, most of them pastors, “I would love to be so successful we could work ourselves into retirement.” He said he dreamed of a future where “every church wakes up bold and courageous, and wokeism gets kicked out.”

Kirk followed up by saying that TPUSA could connect them with speakers for their church gatherings such as the Rev. John Amanchukwu, a young adult pastor at Upper Room Church of God in Christ in North Carolina and outspoken opponent of abortion who has emerged as a conservative Black evangelical voice. Amanchukwu told media that as he and his senior pastor grew more visible since 2020, attendance at their church “exploded,” taking in people who “transitioned from other ministries that went woke.”

At Dream City, which has hosted campaign events for Trump and former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, many people leaving Freedom Night told media they weren’t members. But all said they had donated during the offering, and one local resident said the gatherings were enough to get her to commit to the congregation.

“I didn’t identify as a Christian until this year, and it’s because of events like this,” said the woman, who declined to give her name. “I came for the political and the entertainment, and I ended up being able to recognize I’m a Christian.”

The effect of Dream City’s now monthly TPUSA events is felt at nearby churches such as Desert Springs Bible Church, where the Rev. Caleb Campbell serves as pastor. At the beginning of the pandemic, Campbell said, his church drew around 700 people on a Sunday. But when Desert Springs suspended in-person worship during lockdown and Campbell began preaching about racial justice following the murder of George Floyd, people began leaving — with many citing political reasons for their exit.

Some of his congregants, Campbell said, ended up at Dream City. By the time the church opened up again, attendance dipped to as low as 100.

“2020 hits and then it’s a deluge — it’s hundreds of people leaving and making sure that I knew about it,” he said. “The ones that haunt me are the ones that I just never heard from again.”

Campbell said he had attended the first TPUSA pastors summit but came to believe that what TPUSA pastors see as church growth may actually be realignment. Indeed, though McCoy and Amanchukwu insisted they’ve seen net expansion at their churches, they also acknowledge many have left along the way.

Campbell has begun to prioritize these spiritual refugees for his ministry, founding a group called Disarming Leviathan and reimagining himself as a “missionary to Christian nationalists.” As a result, Desert Springs recently pushed past 300 on a Sunday. “A lot of the folks who are at Desert Springs now, for one reason or another, felt like they were no longer welcome inside the evangelical church in Phoenix,” Campbell said, noting some of his newcomers were Dream City expats.

But down the road, TPUSA is quickly cementing its influence with a growing constituency. As cars began to clear out from Dream City’s parking lot after the Freedom Night event, a pair of women walked into the night, chatting excitedly about what they had seen. One leaned in close to the other, her voice shaking as she took on a somber tone.

“Let’s pray for Tucker,” she said.

jack jenkinsJack Jenkins is an award-winning journalist and national reporter for the Religion News Service.



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44 thoughts on “With Turning Point Faith, Pastors Use Politics As A Church-Growth Strategy”

  1. “I came for the political and the entertainment, and I ended up being able to recognize I’m a Christian.”

    I’m not sure that’s how it works.

    1. Greg,
      Glad I’m not the only one gobsmacked by that statement. Why do I feel like both Christianity AND my country are doomed…

      1. Robin,

        Acts 2:41 Those who embraced his message were baptized, and about three thousand..discovered they were already Christians. (America First Revised Edition)

  2. Shelly Ann Moon

    I agree wholeheartedly with this author. The spending by Dr Greenway and his predecessor, Paige Patterson is egregious and a huge violation of trust. Tuition at SWBTS is outrageous and pastors likely spend most of their careers paying it back. If you think the new leaders are going to do anything differently, think again. They are part of the old guard.

  3. Charles Dickens

    After more than fifty years of being a Christian, I can understand how some spiritually immature believers (we were all immature at the beginning) can be side-tracked in their walk with the Lord. One of the best aphorisms that has helped me (after being side-tracked a few times myself) is: “The most important thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” We are first and foremost citizens of Christ’s kingdom. He said clearly, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight. . .” (John 18:36). He has given His followers a specific command with regard to this world, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15). I simply do not see where Christian nationalism fits into Jesus’ program.

  4. I am comforted by the previous commenters. What a lonely Christian walk it has been the past 7 years. Mature and solid believer friends of mine all started to worship Trump as their Lord and Saviour. To me, even a tad of discernment would make it obvious that Maga Nationalism is not what Jesus is all about.
    In one fell swoop, Franklin Grahams and Eric Metaxases killed Christianity and America, as suggested above.

  5. This whole politicized church-ish effort, often flirting with idolatry and sometimes going all the way, seems like a poster child for the “itching ears” Scripture passage.

  6. as a devout christian I find donald trump sickening and have no respect for any pastor or church that endorses vile lying arrogant trump for president and don’t want to be apart of any church who supports donald trump for president

  7. If we’ll know christians by their fruit- well, I don’t see any good fruit from this. I’m not sure there’s a true Christ follower in the whole lot of them. This is gross, and is bearing gross fruit.

  8. The article speaks authentically to a concerning development, not only in the USA, but potentially across the Earth.

    Approaching from a social science position, its the societal conditions that allow for all this, that demand attention. Individuals and groupings prove able to work the extant meaning-making processes, to secure the extreme outcomes this article speaks to.

    Those so-reported outcomes than sit in the context of all the other outcomes which yield the societies in which we find ourselves. So simply understanding what is playing out, or hoping to instead counter or push-back, has a complexity that is hard to monitor and process.

    My own sense then is, that we need a bold confluence of secular and faith thinking, to address and grapple with this complexity.

  9. Evangelical and especially fundamentalist Christians are generally authoritarians, whether they be the followers or the leaders. Authoritarians don’t do well with nuance, shades of grey or the stress of change. People of an authoritarian mindset will flock to anyone or any thing that promises them security, stability, power and if it has a dollop of them feeling “special” or “in the know about the real truth”, it makes it even more irresistible for them.
    So reminds me of Esau selling his birthright for a pottage of stew…

  10. Smh. Regardless if you desire a culture war or not it’s a reality. The more Christians stick their heads in the sand and ignore policy makers passing and promoting policies that strip away freedom the sooner Christians will be silenced.
    2020 saw extensive overreach by government and closing churches and prohibiting religious activities. Yet they encouraged thousands to flood the streets to protest against police and promote defunding them.
    Paul the Apostle utilized his right as a Roman citizen to counter religious persecution.
    Christianity has a mandate to influence culture and society and the nation they abide in. So left leaning believers, who ignore the Bible to accept leftist ideology, are opposed to a Christian nation? So you are for trans drag shows for children, men competing in women’s sports, homosexual agenda, abortion on demand regardless of trimester, and high taxation and marxism?

    1. Cynthia Norbeck


      Jesus always took a stand. He was never wishy-washy. He was against evil and made it crystal clear that God would not tolerate it in any form.
      It’s why Jesus came. Those who accept sin in any form cannot at the same time call themselves Christ-followers.

      It’s time for those who follow Christ to make clear their stand regarding sin. Truth or tolerance? That’s the dividing line referred to in the Bible and illustrated often. One of my favorite stories is the one where Elijah called down fire from heaven in the Old Testament. God made his stance very clear on that occasion. He will do so again.

      1. Cynthia, everyone and I mean Everyone the world over, already knows your (or the American white christian evangelical) ‘stand’ on every issue imaginable… Every culture war voice out there taking a ‘stand’ on sin could close their mouths today and everyone in the world would STILL know where they and you ‘stand’…

        Jesus did more than just ‘tell’ people where He stood (in fact He often lead with something else first…)

        Maybe it’s time for His supposed followers to take His lead and do something else too? Maybe they’d see more good fruit? Maybe something better would happen instead of the partisan wars we now have (and losing one big culture war issue after another btw… so much ‘winning’ from all this ‘taking a stand’ approach! – but not winning hearts & minds are we…?)

        1. Cynthia Norbeck


          My stand doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters here is what God says about it.

          What does God say about sin?
          What does God say about the world?
          What does God say about love? Marriage? Children?

          Check out what the Bible says about it. It’s God’s Word.

          Further, Jesus promised we would have trouble in the world as believers. He promised the Bible and its message would antagonize many. But, to those who believe, He has given the right to become his children.

          Are you aware of the growing church in Africa? In China? In Afghanistan?

          There is a whole lot of fruit production going on in Christ’s Kingdom. The USA is only a fraction of His body.

    2. Tony Nazarowski

      John – The way I see things (just my opinion) aren’t at risk of being silenced by left-leaning ideology. Evangelicals are being silenced by demonstrating an indifference towards injustices they have caused. It’s a shame there is not the same level of enthusiasm and energy to address (and prevent) sexual abuse in the church that is given to the abortion agenda.

      Both are important topics, but if evangelicals don’t clean their own house they will surely by silenced by irrelevance.

      1. “Evangelicals are being silenced by demonstrating an indifference towards injustices they have caused.”

        THIS. Thank you, Tony. I’d like to also add in “responses to sin and injustice that are riddled with excuses and whataboutism”. In other words, evangelicals look just like the world. Instead of responding to sin with repentence, we respond with defensiveness and deflection, then wonder why we are becoming irrelevant.

        1. Cynthia Norbeck

          Hi Marin,

          Just curious here. Could you name some of the injustices caused by Evangelicals? A similar statement could be made about any group. It’s called prejudice.
          Prejudice could be defined as a “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.”

          It’s what happens when you put an entire group of people (In this case, “Evangelicals”) into a box and define them all in the same way. It leads to discrimination and hatred. It also leads to bias and ignorance. In the past, it led to lynchings.

          1. Cynthia –

            One look at this nation’s history answers your question. American Evangelicals (as a social, cultural and political bloc) have authored and enabled some of the largest injustices against entire populations of races, ethnicities, religions, and women. Slavery, genocide, lynching, segregation, disenfranchisement, redlining, internment, and more…all took place under the eye and hand of evangelicals. These injustices have generational impacts (as scripture says our sins can impact our children’s children), but evangelicals deny, deflect (as you do with “it can be said about other groups too!”) or say “let’s not talk about the past anymore.”

            Long story short, if evangelicals loved the way they claim to love, these would’ve been nonexistent issues from ground zero. There would’ve been no need for a civil rights or suffrage movement if evangelicals weren’t hypocrites.
            And I won’t even get into the outright idolatry of a lying, adulterous, twice impeached, indicted former POTUS.

            I say all of this as an evangelical (in terms of my beliefs). I also say that as someone who doesn’t publicly refer to myself as an evangelical very often because of the oxymoronic association with such behavior that we refuse to admit and address. The lack of accountability is real.

    3. John, I don’t see any evidence of Jesus caring even a little about our personal rights. I see a lot of evidence of Jesus calling us to lay down our rights for others- both in his commands and in the way he lived. Being worried about your own rights for your own sake is an american ideal, not a christian one.

    4. Finally, a sensible comment.
      I found this article to be quite biased. It seems to have been written by someone who wants Christians to stay “in their place”. The author, it seems, would prefer that Christians have no say in our government’s actions or policies.

  11. Tony Nazarowski

    One has to question the value of the so-called leaders when messages (and the whole service) can be replicated with artificial intelligence (AI)

    And why are churches an authority on politics? I don’t thinking of consulting a pastor when I have questions about my blood pressure medication or the type of pipe fitting I should use for a plumbing project. That said, I’m not sure why church leaders have a public position on politics. Actually, I am sure. Taking political positions is for the benefit of the church leader, not the growth of the congregation.

  12. “I didn’t identify as a Christian until this year, and it’s because of events like this,” said the woman, who declined to give her name. “I came for the political and the entertainment, and I ended up being able to recognize I’m a Christian.”. There are many ways to Christ and one way to God. His son. Can the author explain the gospel? I believe the primary mission of the church is the gospel and its application to sanctification. We also live in the United States and there are laws to which I fought for. My primary allegiance is Christ The doctrine for life is the Bible. The national laws and the law of Christ is where I live. This author makes the 2 seem like they are wrong when both are followed. A follower of Christ is accountable for every decision. Sometimes they require making good choices and not the best. I have zero hope for Trump saving my soul or speak to Biblical exegesis. However, Joe Biden has pushed outright sin. He is a pathological liar, plagiarist and believes in policies that sexualize and murder children. Trump is a narcissist as well. He does promote values more closely to biblical fidelity.

    1. Trump and trumpists have pushed outright sin as well… maybe not the sin you think is the worst, but still sin nonetheless… But it seems like a lot of american christians have different sins they care a lot about and then some they barely consider to be sins… so they use that schema to partisan ends and declare one side ‘evil’ and the other my ‘friend’ and tribe I can follow and trust even though they push and participate in gross sin (I guess beating up capital policemen is a lesser sin?)

      1. It is easy to lump everyone together. I do not follow a mob. Those who hit an officer of the law is sin. They obviously didn’t follow Trump’s remarks. Peaceful protest. That being said, the idea of election questioning is fair. This government will do anything to cover its own. As a friend of mine testified in congress. “The government will crush you.” The actions of the government is a far cry from the constitution. People are upset. I do not think civil war as a Christian is the answer. I do think that unregenerate individuals are headed to a fight.

  13. This is all syncretism at best and idolatry at worst. Either way, it certainly focuses people on something other than God’s kingdom. In America, the biggest threat to the church isn’t the culture wars or which political party is in power; the biggest threat is movements like this right inside the church itself.

  14. …..the main event, however, was the pulpit talk given by Charlie Kirk, the fresh-faced 29-year-old founder of Turning Point USA. He began with an impassioned defense of Tucker Carlson, the Fox News host who had been fired days before, praising a video Carlson posted to Twitter after his show was canceled, in which he held forth the importance of truth in media.

    “That is Christianity — that is the promise of Christ,” Kirk said.

    Hey Charlie ….when an employee speaks out vile things, and then goes on to trash management, and then finally costs a company 800 million…. yes in the real world that employee is fired…

    The exception to the above, seems to be evangelical pastors, most right-wing media darlings…and indicted Presidents of the U.S. ………

  15. Charlie Kirk is holding the Women’s TPUSA Conference now.

    He told a woman in medical school that she needed to choose between having a career or being a good mother.

    Kirk told women to submit their resumes for his examination because he had a young man on his staff looking for a wife.

    Fox News’ Laura Ingram said that TPUSA conference is “a version of church.”

    This is getting more cultish by the day.

  16. Nothing upsets a liberal more than seeing a conservative express their freedom of speech. Do those who object to Charlie sharing his opinions express the same level of disagreement with your kids and grand kids being exposed to the woke/Pride/ trans/LGBTQ agenda at their schools or is that something you find acceptable? Just wondering.

    1. Cynthia Norbeck

      Would anyone care to comment about how God might feel when little children are purposefully exposed to the sexual perversity of adults?

    2. Marin Heiskell

      Bill –

      This thread is full of critical thinking and debate over WHAT was said, not Charlie’s right to say it.

      Ironically, conservatives shut down any mere mention or presentation of opposing views, fighting for them to be banned, and shutting down any room for critical thinking or debate with misused overarching labels like “woke” and “agenda.”

      One is challenging freedom of speech. And it’s not the side you think.

      1. Cynthia Norbeck


        It has become more apparent to me, over time, that you seem to think that when people disagree with you, they are trying to “shut down any mere mention or presentation of opposing views.”

        From my personal perspective, this is simply not true. I am very willing to engage you and others on ANY and ALL topics, but particularly those that relate to my Christian faith.

        You claim that it was “Evangelicals” who supported slavery. It would help if you could define what you mean by “Evangelical.” I have discovered that slavery has existed since time began. If you impugn Evangelicals, you will have to do the same with Maoists, African leaders, and countless South American tribes. This is not “whataboutism,” by the way. I am simply stating facts, not trying to deflect from anyone’s culpability for slavery. Hopefully, you are aware that slavery still exists around the world, right? Again, just a factual statement, not “whataboutism.”

        I have studied history for a long period of time. At the moment, I am reading a book by David Grann which discusses South America and its exploration by Percy Fawcett in the early 20th century. What is crystal clear is this: The love of money supports, encourages, and enables slavery today and enabled it in the past.

        And please, Marin, stop going after Christians. If there is one group in the world that has tried to make a difference, it is my brothers and sisters in Christ.

        1. Marin Heiskell

          Cynthia –

          Go look at who is fighting to BAN books from schools – including such books as: The Ruby Bridges story, MLK’s Letters from a Birmingham Jail, and more. That is LITERALLY removing books so that there can be ZERO discussion or critical thinking.
          I’m SO grateful my CHRISTIAN parents taught me to think for myself. They NEVER banned anything they disagreed with – they encouraged me to form an argument on why I did or did not agree with content. We literally had “dinner debates” over books and articles – and at times my mom had me write short papers (with references) outlining my views. (Not my favorite thing then, but I’m SO grateful for it now). To this day, my parents and I don’t agree on everything; but they constantly state they are proud of me for doing the work to understand and communicate what I believe and why. I’m not a robot of them who was raised in a bubble, only exposed to things my parents agree with. How would I even be in the world to win it for Christ that way?

          Are today’s parents doing this? No. They are going to school board meetings, hollering and ranting – even threatening board members, teachers and other parents – to make sure whatever they disagree with is REMOVED. And yes, many are professing Christians. It is disappointing.

          If you stand up your child in the way they should go, when they are old, they won’t depart from it. Isn’t that what scripture says? If Christian parents are doing their jobs, what’s there to be so afraid of? Trust the Word you’ve instilled in your child will stand firm.

          1. Cynthia Norbeck


            “We literally had “dinner debates” over books and articles – and at times my mom had me write short papers (with references) outlining my views.”

            Did you discuss and write short papers about transgenderism? Bestiality? Sexual perversity? How about homosexuality when you were about seven years old?

            I thank God my kids were never exposed to the garbage you seem to support in the name of not banning books. There are age-appropriate standards for almost all topics, including violence and sex. Do you think age-appropriate standards should be banned in public schools?

            We are talking about young children here. They are not equipped to understand and discuss the topics some public schools are introducing in kindergarten.

            Have you ever studied child psychology?

      2. Cynthia Norbeck


        Your words:

        “Ironically, conservatives shut down any mere mention or presentation of opposing views, fighting for them to be banned, and shutting down any room for critical thinking or debate with misused overarching labels like “woke” and “agenda.”

        Marin, are you aware that Conservatives are trying to protect children by keeping sexual perversity out of the academic lexicon until kids are old enough to handle it?

        I am a former teacher. I would fight with everything I have for the protection of my 8-year-olds from the garbage you are calling “critical thinking.”

        Children deserve the sanity of adults in the room. They also deserve to be protected from teachers displaying their sexual preferences daily and with “pride.”

        1. Marin Heiskell

          Cynthia –

          Where did I say I support sexual perversion? I didn’t. It’s like you accuse me of saying things or holding certain beliefs to prop up your argument; but it’s false.
          I support critical thinking and being able to back up one’s argument with more than “my parents said I can’t read that.” You have called that “garbage” and clearly have an issue with my parents raising me to be knowledgable and capable of shaping a logical argument rooted in data, proper understanding, and yes, scripture. That’s your prerogative. I’m grateful for it. We can agree to disagree, and you don’t have to take my parents’ approach.
          I’m still learning A LOT about LGBTQIA community; I own that I have been very ignorant to understanding what certain terms even mean. But I seek to at least understand so I know what I’m talking about. Ignorance does not win others over.

          Yes, there are age appropriate standards. But let’s be honest: parents don’t want anything they disagree with discussed AT ALL. It still baffles me that parents don’t think children are “old enough” to learn about Ruby Bridges, when Ruby herself was a young child as she endured the racist abuse of adults. You speak of child psychology – go look up the average age of when a child first hears slurs. (For Black kids, it’s under the age of 6; apparently when “kids are too young to even talk about it.”)

          Remember when parents were mad about schools being integrated? Yeah, I know it hurts their pride, but parents can be wrong.

    3. Well said, Bill. Why is it that only Christians are criticized for exercising their right to freedom of speech.

      We defend our freedoms on behalf of the whole country. Not just for Christians.

  17. Cynthia Norbeck

    “And I won’t even get into the outright idolatry of a lying, adulterous, twice impeached, indicted former POTUS. ” Marin

    Perhaps you could get into the “outright idolatry of a lying, adulterous”, cheating former VP and current “President” instead, Marin. You know, the one who was bribed by Ukraine and the one who has a drug addict for a son. That one.

    Do you understand that God sees the heart and judges Man based on that?

    You cannot cut down anyone without cutting down EVERYONE. We are all sinners, saved by God’s grace and nothing else. And, no, you are wrong about no need for the Civil Rights Movement had “Evangelicals” not been hypocrites. There will always be a need for vigilance when it comes to Civil Rights. The good news is, those rights actually exist in the United States.

    In countless countries across the globe, they do not.

    1. Marin Heiskell

      Cynthia –

      All of your arguments are whataboutisms to try to justify and downplay the poor behavior of Christians here in the US. Our witness is tarnished because it’s never “yes, we need to repent and turn to God about that”; it’s “well at least we aren’t like…”
      Again, unbelievers do that – try to compare their sins to others so they don’t look so bad. As Christians we should look and behave differently from them; we are to compare our sins against SCRIPTURE, which should call us to Godly repentance, not “well at least we aren’t so bad.” That’s literally the foundation of your argument.

      I have NEVER seen ANY politician of ANY party elevated and idolized in the church the way Trump has been. It is unBiblical. It is alarming. (Or, rather, it should be – I see many defending it, so I expect it to continue). Christian nationalism is a twisted, false gospel that needs to be eradicated from our congregations, period.

      In the meantime, I notice you went radio silent on my questions and advice to you about how you react and respond to the “people you know” who hate Black people and find us to be subhuman. No scripture you quote will make up for that rather telling silence. No “whataboutism” will detract from that. If you “don’t hate” and “love everyone”, how about you start there? You can have real impact standing up for your Black brothers and sisters in Christ right there.

      1. Cynthia Norbeck

        “All of your arguments are whataboutisms to try to justify and downplay the poor behavior of Christians here in the US.”

        No, Marin, they are not. I am stating FACTS, not arguments. Sin is sin is sin. It is wrong, it is egregious, it hurts God, it requires a Savior. It is never justified.

        “Our witness is tarnished because it’s never “yes, we need to repent and turn to God about that”; it’s “well at least we aren’t like…”

        Not correct. Out witness is not “our witness,” it is MY witness. We are individuals with individual responsibilities. My relatives had nothing to do with the specific sin (slavery) you claim taints all of us. As I read the Bible, I am reminded daily that my sins are forgiven. You can constantly point your finger at others and try to accuse them of the sin of slavery, but you will not get anywhere with me or my family.

        As a Christian, I grieve what was done to you in the past and hope it never happens again.

        Regarding my “radio silence,” I apologize. I love my Black friends from graduate school and always will. Those other friends of mine (and family members) are already aware that the hatred is out of control now. They are praying about it. Based on their experiences, I can understand why they feel the way they do. Based on your experiences, I can understand why you feel the way you do. Perhaps take your own advice when it comes to your white brothers and sisters in Christ?

        1. Marin Heiskell

          Cynthia –

          Where did I accuse you of slavery? Or say it taints all of us? You seem to be conflating a whole bunch of things you’ve heard from other people and accusing me of saying them. Please be very clear on what I say, as I cannot speak to what others have said.

          YOUR witness (as you call it) is full of comparing your sins to others rather than to scripture. You consistently make a “at least we aren’t as bad as them!” argument we are warned against in Luke 18:9-14.

          And there’s a time for prayer AND ACTION. To stay silent while “people you know” openly label Black people as subhuman “but pray for them” is little more than masking the sin of omission behind “Christianese” that makes you feel comfortable. And yes, speaking up when “people you know” say racist things IS uncomfortable, but is necessary. It’s DEMONSTRATING love in action. It’s setting boundaries on what you will not tolerate and know to be wrong as a Christian. Scripture calls us to do more than pray: James 2:15-16 come to mind, but there are several verses that bring about several examples.
          Go beyond prayer. Speak up. It’s what I do.

          1. Cynthia Norbeck

            “YOUR witness (as you call it) is full of comparing your sins to others rather than to scripture. You consistently make a “at least we aren’t as bad as them!” argument we are warned against in Luke 18:9-14.”

            My life is lived based on scripture alone, so I’m not sure what you’re talking about here, Marin. I believe all sin grieves the Father – ALL SIN, including any of my own sins. I do not compare my sins to others’ sins. I confess them and receive forgiveness.

            And, sorry to have to say this, but it appears you are the one fixated on the sins of other people. Demonstrating love in action involves leading by example. That’s what I try to do whenever I encounter racism.

            You asked “where did I accuse you of slavery?” Do you remember your long list of grievances against Evangelicals? Perhaps you should take a look again at what you wrote…

            In the meantime, we are clearly not getting anywhere, so I am going to move on. Thanks for your interesting comments.

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