Right-wing commentator and youth organizer Charlie Kirk joined Pastor Jack Hibbs at his Calvary Chapel Chino Hills church Wednesday evening, where Kirk continued his practice of using church platforms to spread historically baseless claims about the Constitution and the founding of this country.
Kirk heads Turning Point USA, a $55 million right-wing youth turnout organization that has more recently begun organizing among right-wing churches. A libertarian-leaning conservative turned Christian nationalist, Kirk today offers a class on “Biblical Citizenship” long with “Patriot Academy” founder Rick Green through TPUSA Faith. (Green is also the co-host of the “WallBuilders Live” radio program, along with Christian nationalist pseudo-historian David Barton and Barton’s son, Tim.) Kirk’s speech at Calvary gives us insights into the type of faulty lessons that class likely teaches.
The title of the discussion between Kirk and Hibbs was “The New Tower of Babel,” with Kirk and Hibbs asserting that the United States has become a modern-day Tower of Babel that has “made a decision to deny and defy God.”
Kirk asserted that the story in Genesis 11 of an effort to construct “a tower that reaches to the heavens” is not “some sort of fable” but “really happened.” He went on to declare that the Founding Fathers relied on this story to design a system of government that would prevent political power from being consolidated in cities.
“The Torah—the first five books of the Bible—and Thomas Jefferson both hated big cities,” Kirk said. “The American founders read this text [Genesis 11], and they designed a system of government to say, ‘We do not want all this power in cosmopolitan, densely populated, urban areas.'”
“The Founding Fathers were so biblically literate; if you read the Federalist Papers—Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 47, Federalist 51, Federalist 58—they talk time and time again about the heated passions in cities where rancor, rumor, and half-truths reign supreme, where the mobs and the masses are able to get what they want, but reason goes to die,” Kirk continued. “God tried to warn us in Genesis 11, ‘Hey, if you guys build these cities, all of a sudden you’re not going to be governed by your reason, your rationality, or your logic, but it’s going to be the tyranny of the clamoring majority.’ My goodness, you look at federalism, states’ rights, you look at this idea of the local church, all of that is saying, ‘We learned the lesson from Genesis 11, and we’re not going to try to build something central or something big or something strong.'”
We have no idea what Kirk is talking about when he claims that the Torah hates big cities, but it’s probably safe to assume that it’s not true, given that just about everything else he said was false.
First of all, Thomas Jefferson was serving as Minister to France at the time the Constitution was written, so he played no direct role in designing our system of government and his supposed hatred of cities is totally irrelevant.
Kirk, of course, provided no evidence that the Founding Fathers relied on Genesis 11 when forming the government, presumably because there is no evidence to support that claim, which is why his assertions about Alexander Hamilton and the Federalist Papers are nonsense.
Kirk rattled off the line about cities being full of “heated passions,” “rancor,” and “rumor” as if he were quoting from the Federalist Papers, but no such quotes appear in any of the 85 essays. In fact, his citations of Alexander Hamilton and Federalist 47, 51, 58 are completely meaningless since all of those essays were written by James Madison and said literally nothing about the supposed dangers of cities. (Essays 47 and 51 were about checks and balances and the separation of powers, and essay 58 was about the appointment of representatives in the House of Representatives.)
The creation of a strong central government was precisely what was intended by those who crafted, signed, and ratified the Constitution. Having struggled through the American Revolution and the first years of independence with essentially no federal government under the Articles of Confederation, many Founding Fathers agreed that what was needed was a convention to “render the constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union.” The Constitution that arose out of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was designed to remedy the weakness and diffusion of powers that hampered the federal government under the Articles of Confederation.
On top of all of that, the Founding Fathers obviously weren’t particularly concerned about protecting the federal government from the supposed corrupting power of cities, since they placed the very first Congress in New York City, then, as now, the most populous city in country.
Of course, none of these facts matter to Kirk because his goal isn’t to tell the truth or present an accurate view of history, but rather to convince Christian conservatives that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and that they have a biblical obligation to ensure that it remains one. We’ve seen this same strategy used time and time again by David Barton and other Christian nationalists.
There’s a reason why Right Wing Watch has repeatedly debunked these lies about the founding of our nation. Kirk, Barton, and others have an explicit political goal when they tell them: They want to bolster their Christian nationalist agenda, undermine church-state separation, and reverse progress toward equality by insisting that our laws and policies must coincide with their interpretation of the Bible.
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