The largest church in Alabama, the Church of the Highlands, has been kicked out of the two high schools where it held services after the pastor liked tweets by a controversial conservative pundit. 

Friends, this is “cancel culture” on steroids.

The church’s pastor Chris Hodges liked tweets from Charlie Kirk, the 25 year old founder and executive director of Turning Point USA (TPUSA).  TPUSA is a student organization with chapters all across the country which frequently comes under fire from the left for its controversial takes.

AL.com explained that when Hodges’s “likes” were noticed, his church was kicked out services at Parker High School (where they’d worshipped since 2018) and Woodlawn High School (where they’d held services since 2012). 

This is a huge loss of revenue for the schools:

“The church paid an average of $12,000 a month each to rent Parker High School and Woodlawn High School for Sunday worship services, a total of $288,000 per year. Since 2014, the church has paid Birmingham City Schools about $817,000 to use its facilities.”

But it’s more than a loss of revenue, it’s a loss of freedom.

Former U.S. Attorney General and Senator Jeff Sessions (and current Alabama Senate candidate) said, “The actions taken by the Birmingham Housing Authority and the Birmingham Board of Education against the Church of the Highlands represent an attack on both religious liberty and freedom of speech…” 

Donald Trump Jr. also weighed in on the issue calling the decision to kick out the church, “Absolutely insane” on Twitter. 

Constitutional attorney David French explained that Hodge’s social media was, “First Amendment-protected activity. Wise or unwise, ‘likes’ are speech.”

I agree with all of them.

The issue here is glaringly obvious: American citizens enjoy the fundamental rights to freedom of expression and freedom of religion. The Alabama Board of Education kicking out this church is punishing the pastor for holding conservative views. The government has no place punishing churches based on the political beliefs (especially ones that the pastor expresses in his free time).

The Church of the Highlands has done important work in the community.  They were the first testing center in Alabama for public coronavirus evaluations. The church also works in the nine public housing communities in Birmingham, providing free mentoring, spiritual advice, social service activities, and more. 

Who is the government trying to punish here?

After being kicked from the places they hold their services, the church sent a kind letter to the housing department. 

 “We are grateful for the opportunity to love and serve our community together over the years. Going forward, we will continue our financial support of the school system and encourage others to do the same.”

Also Pastor Hodges issued an apology. During one service he spoke about how much sadness this has caused him.

“I have buckets for days, buckets. I know it’s really been one of the most painful things I’ve ever been through in my life and I know God is disciplining me, breaking me. A broken and a contrite heart is the pathway to the presence and anointing of God,” he said. Hodges said  these events are transforming him, though he humbly admits that he still, “Has a long way to go.” 

I can’t imagine a more gracious response. The church has perfectly embodied the Scripture in Romans 12, which says, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Hopefully, calmer — and more constitutionally-minded — heads will prevail.


Hat Tip: Al.com, Christian Post,  Alabama Political Reporter

Image Credit: Wikimedia

About The Author

Mark Meckler

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at MarkMeckler.com, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.