In late May, Charlie Kirk’s Christian nationalist TPUSA Faith organization hosted a pastor’s summit in Nashville, Tennessee. Among the featured speakers was pseudo-historian David Barton, who delivered a presentation urging those in attendance to take advantage of the far-right majority’s control of the Supreme Court to start enacting Christian nationalist policies all across the nation.

Citing recent Supreme Court decisions upholding prayer in schoolscrosses erected on public lands, and flying Christian flags on public buildings, Barton declared that now is the time for Christians to “storm the castle.”

Barton noted that under the precedent set by the Supreme Court’s 1971 decision in Lemon v. Kurtzman, religious activities in government facilities were constitutionally permitted provided that they had a secular purpose. But that standard was a “100 percent loser” for conservative Christians, Barton said, because “there was no religious activity we engage in whose primary purpose is secular.”

But with the far-right gaining dominance over the Supreme Court thanks to the three appointments made by former President Donald Trump, Barton celebrated that the standard set forth in the Lemon case has been overturned and now Christian conservatives have racked up a string of wins at the high court.

“We were used to winning one case every 5 to 8 years,” Barton said. “In the last four years, we’ve won 11 cases in the Supreme Court. … Virtually everything we know on public religious expression has now been turned on its head.”

As such, Barton declared, it’s now up to Christians to take advantage of the situation.

“So, with that new standard, what do we do now?” Barton asked. “Proverbs 21:22 says, ‘A wise man attacks the city of the mighty and tears down the stronghold in which they trust.’”

“What a wise man does is he storms the castle, he attacks the strongholds,” Barton added. “So, instead of being defensive or waiting to see what happens, we start attacking. We have to go on the offense.”

Barton then advocated for placing copies of the 10 Commandments in public school classrooms, placing 10 Commandments monuments and Nativity scenes outside city halls, and erecting “memorial crosses” on public land.

“Let’s start public meetings with prayer,” Barton declared. “Let’s start every city council meeting with prayer. Let’s start school board meetings with prayer. Let’s get everything going back to prayer. … It’s okay to have prayer in schools if students lead it. So encourage your students in your church, encourage your youth group to ask for prayer in schools and start leading prayers. As a matter of fact, we haven’t been able to have prayer at graduations for about 20 years. And we used to do baccalaureates in churches before the graduations. Go back to doing that.”

Barton also declared that “we ought to be putting the national motto [“In God We Trust”] up everywhere” and called for public schools to start offering courses on the Bible and Creationism.

“This is all back on the table if we’ll get aggressive and do something with this,” Barton said.

“We don’t have to be secular,” Barton declared, noting that all of the recommendations he had made would likely result in lawsuits, which is exactly what the far-right wants because there are right-wing legal groups like the Alliance Defending FreedomLiberty Counsel, and First Liberty just waiting to take these cases to the Supreme Court.

“When you try to do this, you’re gonna end up in a lawsuit,” Barton said. “Good for you, because we’ve got all these groups waiting to take these lawsuits to court. The courts have already made it clear we’re going to win these lawsuits, somebody’s just got to take it to court.”

David Barton at The Pastor's Summit in Nashville, TN 2023 Day 2

Kelly Shackelford, president of First Liberty, which argued several of the Supreme Court cases cited by Barton, also spoke at the pastor’s summit and made the same case.

“It’s now about the people taking back their country,” Shackelford said. “We’ve already won. It’s just [that] every person needs to go in their own community and say, ‘Why don’t we have prayer at the school board meeting? Why don’t we have a Nativity scene?’”

“We’re always complaining about being on defense,” he continued. “We finally can be on offense. We’ve already won. It’s just a matter of if we’re willing to take the ground or not. This is us going on offense and they can’t stop us. We just have to move.”

“God just changed everything,” Shackelford declared.

Constitutional Rights & Legal Strategy at The Pastor's Summit in Nashville, TN 2023 Day 2