Right-wing activist Charlie Kirk and California pastor-politician Rob McCoy shared each other’s platforms this week, with Kirk speaking at McCoy’s church Sunday June 14 and McCoy appearing on Kirk’s podcast that same day. Kirk and McCoy denounced the Black Lives Matter movement and criticized pastors who have participated in protests that spread across the country in response to the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Kirk and McCoy lavished praise on each other for what they described as standing for truth in the public arena when few others have the courage to do so.
In recent weeks, Kirk has used his vast reach on social media to dispute the idea that there is systemic racism in the U.S. and to rail against the leftist “mob” and its efforts to “divide us and destroy our country from within.” On Tuesday, the author of “The MAGA Doctrine” tweeted, “We are losing our country.”
In his podcast conversation with McCoy, Kirk called the Black Lives Matter organization, leadership, and goals “malevolent” and said that people posting a black square on social media without knowing about the movement’s agenda is “surrendering to something that is not true”—that there is a structural problem with racism in policing.
McCoy said that for pastors “to be ignorant of what Black Lives Matter stands for, and to ask your congregations to support that—that is unconscionable.” Kirk called racism sinful, but he said that the U.S. a “systematically unracist country,” citing the number of immigrants it welcomes each year.
On the podcast and at McCoy’s church, Kirk complained—without naming names—about the pastor of a Birmingham, Alabama, church who was criticized publicly for liking some of Kirk’s social media posts, and responded not by defending Kirk but by apologizing and, according to Kirk, by throwing Kirk “completely under the bus.” When the local school board and housing agency canceled contracts with the church, Kirk said it was evidence that leaders should never “cave to the leftist, activist mob.”
At McCoy’s church, Kirk said it is dangerous for people to be judged as part of a group based on immutable characteristics rather than as individuals, citing ancestors he said fought for the Union in the Civil War, promoted women’s suffrage, and called for equality for black people. “Now, people who know nothing about me are telling me to stop talking because of the color of my skin,” he said. “That is anti-American. That is anti-Christian. And that will guarantee to lead us to a very, very, let’s just say, conflicted place as a country.”
In response to a question about Confederate monuments, Kirk said that the question of statues ranks far down on his list of concerns. “However, I stand firm against the removal of all these statues, every single one of them, every single one,” he said. “And the reason is this. I’m not defending what they did or any of that, but I understand exactly why they’re doing it. This is a cultural revolution tactic to remove our history, to insult an entire portion of American society geographically and culturally. And the history is much more complex than how they describe it.”
The two also discussed what they saw as the failure of most religious leaders to stand for truth. McCoy complained about preachers who talk about white privilege and social justice from the pulpit, saying that by trying to “appease” the left, “all you’re going to end up doing is compromising the truth for a lie.” He said that “God gave us the law,” but that for the last 50 years preachers had “abdicated our responsibility in the public square.” Kirk said he tells pastors that psychology-professor-turned-right-wing-commentator Jordan B. Peterson “has brought more people to Christ than any evangelist in the modern era,” calling him “the modern-day Billy Graham.”
At McCoy’s church, Kirk said many people are coming to Christ or reaffirming their faith through his work and podcast because people are looking for clarity about how the Gospel intersects with the real world and “that’s where discipleship really comes into play.”
Most pastors, Kirk said, shy away from that or give questionable answers, but those like McCoy say, “I’m going to tell you exactly how the Bible instructs every way of life, how to marry, how to speak, how to form a government, how to potentially vote, I mean, that that’s what the Gospel is.It’s supposed to transcend into every portion of human action and human existence, not just the very specific part of human conversion of a specific person’s conversion.”
Kirk joked that he urges secular conservatives to go to church and tells churchgoers to “go do conservative stuff.” He urged people to run for the school board and other local offices.
Kirk, who has been publicly praised by President Donald Trump, is most well known as the founder and president of Turning Point USA, which organizes conservative college students. Last year, Kirk co-founded Liberty University’s Falkirk Center with Jerry Falwell Jr. Kirk has also partnered with Christian nationalist political operative David Lane and pastors like McCoy and Jack Hibbs who are part of Lane’s network.
McCoy is Lane’s pastor and has been described by Lane as the inspiration for his efforts to boost conservative evangelical voter turnout by getting 1,000 pastors to run for public office. His congregation, Godspeak Calvary Chapel, worships in a building bought and renovated for them by fracking billionaire and right-wing funder Dan Wilks. After losing a bid for the state legislature in 2014, McCoy was elected to the city council of Thousand Oaks California and served as its mayor in 2018 and 2019—a position elected annually by council members from among themselves. McCoy resigned from the city council in April so that he could hold a Palm Sunday communion service in defiance of California public health restrictions without violating his oath to uphold the laws of the state.
On Kirk’s podcast, McCoy repeatedly described the COVID-19 pandemic as a “scamdemic” and said there had been no outbreak at his church, even though they have been gathering for worship without requiring social distancing, with masks optional. At the Sunday service featuring Kirk, McCoy encouraged congregants to shake hands and hug each other. McCoy joked that they call the Sunday service a “justice rally” so that public officials won’t object.
McCoy compared Kirk to the disciples Peter and John who the Bible says defied orders from government officials to stop preaching in the name of Jesus.
“You’re not just a Christian, Charlie,” McCoy said. ”You’re standing boldly upon truth at great expense to yourself. And this is a time where God is testing the church, it’s a refiner’s fire. We won’t be able to continue when truth is being challenged and we are being asked to compromise in appeasement. Where the world is in desperate need of truth, when there’s deceit out there, there’s censorship, there’s the cancel culture, and you’re going to be attacked when you stand upon truth. And you do that.”
Kirk’s “truth” includes a belief that the United States needs Trump at its helm. “The future of America depends on Trump being re-elected,” he tweeted in May.” Kirk has brought his student organization in line as well, announcing that Trump will address a Turning Point Students for Trump rally in Phoenix, Arizona, on June 23.