Last week, NC State hosted Charlie Kirk and Lara Trump with their “Culture War” series. As they spoke about conservative topics, floods of both conservative attendees and liberal protestors gathered to voice their opinions and thoughts. Rather than discuss the efficacy of the protest or Charlie Kirk’s credibility as a speaker, which have been shared in previous articles, I want to touch upon a theme that Kirk brought up that definitely intrigued me: Political conservatism is different from religious conservatism.
From this idea, it’s relatively straightforward to extract what he is trying to say in regard to the fact that one can disagree with someone’s lifestyle but still support their rights to embrace their identity. For example, if someone is a part of the LGBTQ+ community, then although Kirk might disagree with that person's lifestyle because of his religion, he would still support the legalization of gay marriage, which Kirk stated he does.
During the question and answer portion of the presentation, some white supremacists announced themselves and called upon Kirk to agree with their racist, homophobic and sexist ideologies. Kirk promptly denounced the white supremacists and stated that they do not represent conservatives because true conservatives are tolerant and do not work to oppress people.
It’s great to both see and hear Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, denouncing racism, homophobia and sexism in the setting, but that is only the first step. Now it is time for Kirk to walk the walk. Even if one says that they aren’t homophobic or transphobic, such as Kirk during the presentation, if they support legislation that systemically oppresses that community, then they are, in fact, homophobic and transphobic.
It’s a different scenario if someone simply disagrees with a certain lifestyle, but to deny certain rights to an already marginalized group is outward oppression and needs to be treated as such. Hence, I think Kirk’s claim that political and religious conservatism needs to be separated is great in theory, and now just needs to be brought into application.
I think for many conservatives, this is already the case. I want to assume that a majority of right-leaning people are able to distinguish their religious views from their political views to ensure equality for all groups. These are the conservatives that are openminded and can be easily misrepresented in the media by those that cannot distinguish between the two.
I want to call to action all conservatives, Kirk included, to actively try and bring the separation of political and religious conservatism into their thought processes when analyzing legislation that affects marginalized groups that might be contrary to their religions. I think there is a lot of merit to having two conservative mentalities: one political and one religious.
You can disagree with someone’s lifestyle, but you can’t deny their existence. Kirk should check to see how his actions align with his beliefs, and I think he might be able to bridge the gap to build better bipartisan conversation, but only if he starts walking the walk.