RIP, Falkirk Center. Hello, Liberty U ‘Freedom Center’

Falkirk Center co-founder Charlie Kirk. (Image from 2019 Falkirk Center launch video.)

The New York Times reported Tuesday that Liberty University has decided not to renew its contract with Turning Point USA President Charlie Kirk, a co-founder and fellow of the university’s Falkirk Center. The center, whose name combined Kirk’s with that of disgraced former Liberty president Jerry Falwell, Jr., will be renamed the “Standing for Freedom Center,” or Freedom Center for short.

Just three months ago, Liberty was celebrating Falkirk’s one-year anniversary and its aggressive approach to secularism and “wokeism,” which Falkirk’s executive director Ryan Helfenbein summarized by saying, “We don’t just want to be an organization that barks; we want to be an organization that bites.”

Perhaps Liberty University’s new leaders see less value in being known for a think tank that bites.

The Times notes that some students and alumni have been vocally critical of the center’s “baked-in belligerence.” Also disappearing from Falkirk’s roster of fellows are pugnacious MAGA characters like former White House aide Sebastian Gorka, Trump attorney Jenna Ellis, and radio host David Harris, Jr. Kirk’s fiancée Erika Frantzve is also out.

The Times reports that Kirk, who has previously distinguished his work at the secular Turning Point USA from his partnerships with Christian nationalists, will start “Turning Point Faith,” described as a church-based project to “recruit pastors and other church leaders to be active in local and national political issues”— a longtime priority of Kirk allies like Christian nationalist political operative David Lane and California pastor-politician Rob McCoy.

Among the first-year accomplishments celebrated by the Falkirk Center was “Get Louder,” a “faith summit” held last September, which Right Wing Watch reported included Christian Reconstructionist Gary DeMar on a panel moderated by the increasingly hard-right author and pundit Eric Metaxas.