Saturday, July 4, 2015

"Light Wins" Recycles Old, Tired Homophobic Arguments

Religious Right activist Janet Porter, president of Faith2Action, released an anti-LGBTQ documentary earlier this year. Light Wins: How to Overcome the Criminalization of Christianity is a confused, convoluted piece of homophobic propaganda, featuring Religious Right figures such as Mike Huckabee, David Barton, and Peter LaBarbera. The film argues that LGBTQ equality is a threat to Christianity, freedom, and children, and must be resisted by people of faith.

Right Wing Watch has posted several excerpts from Light Wins on YouTube, revealing how much homophobic rhetoric is contained in the film. In Light Wins, Porter and her fellow commentators depict gays as diseased, predatory, and fundamentally opposed to American Christian values.






In one excerpt of the film, Religious Right author David Barton applauded a Bible passage in which "sodomites" were forced into exile. He seems to be referring to 1 Kings 22:45-46, in which King Jehoshaphat "rid the land of the rest of the male shrine prostitutes".
BARTON: Very interesting thing we're told in the Book of Kings. When they had a revival, it says that they chased the sodomites out of the land. That is, they addressed the homosexual issue. They confronted it head-on. If you think we can have a revival and not address the issue of homosexuality and marriage, then you're denying the authority of the scriptures, and you're denying what history tells us across all the great revivals America's had in its own history.
1 Kings 22:45-46 refers to a king stamping out pagan worship. By likening the gay community to pagans, was Barton suggesting that LGBTQ persons are opponents of the Christian faith? Was he suggesting that LGBTQ people should be driven out of the U.S. like Jehoshaphat drove out the shrine prostitutes? I found the implications of Barton's statement disturbing. 

Light Wins depicts sexual diversity as a vector for deadly disease. The film likens "homosexual behavior" to a "lethal product" that has killed hundreds of thousands of people. Gays, quite literally, are a plague in the eyes of the filmmakers.

No, idiots. Disease transmission makes people sick, not being gay. People of all orientations can contract disease through unprotected sex, not just gay people, I thought.






In another segment of the film, Porter condemns same-sex marriage as a threat to children alongside Thomas Peters of the National Organization for Marriage and AFTAH's Peter LaBarbera. Porter claims that church-state separation in public schools created a "void" that wicked LGBTQ rights activists quickly filled. The implication, it seems, is that LGBTQ people are predators waiting to corrupt children, a dangerous myth that homophobes have used to demonize LGBTQ persons for years.
PORTER: Our children are the picture of innocence. They are by nature trusting, impressionable, and vulnerable. Prayer, God, and his commandments were kicked out of the classroom because they might influence children not to lie, steal, and kill. But ushered into that void was a dark agenda that robs children of their innocence and puts their life at risk ... In states like Massachusetts that redefined marriage back in 2004, we now know that with the redefinition of marriage comes a state invitation to indoctrinate your child.

PETERS: If you change the public law about what marriage is, then you change what the public education system does when it talks about it.

LABARBERA: It leads to children being taught dangerous sexual practices in the guise of equality.

NARRATOR: We've abandoned, we have left people who may have homosexual tendencies to adults to step in and so-called groom them, perhaps with their purposes down the line.






In a third segment, Porter depicts LGBTQ rights advances as a threat to American freedoms, framing LGBTQ equality and First Amendment rights as mutually exclusive.
PORTER: This is where the battle is the hottest, and right now, our freedoms are on fire. The attack against the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the freedom of religion has come to Main Street, to the business you own and the place where you work.
A few moments later, the film shows a map of the United States on fire, with Porter warning viewers that business owners will suffer due to LGBTQ equality. Mike Huckabee used Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson (who made homophobic and racist statements in a 2013 GQ interview and who defended child marriage in a 2009 speech) as an example of a Christian man persecuted by pro-LGBTQ "political correctness".
PORTER: When the government mandates public endorsement of sin, it's not just the bakers and photographers who suffer. It's the printers, the fire chiefs, adoption agencies, bed and breakfasts, facility owners, counselors, broadcasters, students, teachers, and groups like Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, the Knights of Columbus, and the Salvation Army. And now under attack is anyone who ever ran for public office, and anyone who ever will.

HUCKABEE: Phil Robertson from the famous and successful show Duck Dynasty made some comments that, well, they might have been a little on the edge in terms of the manner in which he said them, but they were consistent again with Christian beliefs of people all over America and the world. A&E, the network that had made a lot of money off the Robertson family, initially decided to yank them off the air, but the outcry was such, they finally had to reverse that decision. In both of these cases, it was a matter of people who were politically correct somehow wanting to tell Christians to just shut up and go away. Jesus told his disciples that they weren't supposed to shut up and go away, and he told them right here at Caesarea Philippi, so I couldn't think of any better place to say it than here.
Light Wins also endorses conversion therapy and the so-called "ex-gay" movement. The implication, it seems, is that LGBTQ people are not entitled to equal rights if they can simply transform into straight people.

The film's website features contact information for so-called "ex-gay" organizations so as to provide "help for those with unwanted same-sex attractions". In the film, Porter criticizes state bans on conversion therapy for minors, depicting conversion therapy as a legitimate counseling practice for those who want to transcend "same-sex attractions". She conveniently fails to mention that medical expects have condemned conversion therapy as dubious and potentially harmful, and that the practice is not supported by research.
PORTER: In The Criminalization of Christianity, I warned that counseling people out of homosexuality would be made illegal, and now, licensed counselors in California and New Jersey are forbidden from giving hope to minors who do not want same-sex attractions. If they do anything other than encourage homosexual behavior, they will lose their license to counsel, even if they are a pastor, so for those who want help leaving homosexuality, that door is closed.
If the Right Wing Watch excerpts are anything to go by, Porter's film merely rehashes old, tired myths about the LGBTQ community. The film's attempts to demonize LGBTQ people fall flat in 2015, when most people know that gays are not diseased, predatory vermin. Porter's defense of conversion therapy is unconvincing at a time when ex-gay ministries are closing their doors and losing court battles. The film's assumption that LGBTQ people are enemies over there ignores the reality that LGBTQ people can be found among our friends, colleagues, and loved ones. The Religious Right is losing the culture wars, and propaganda films like Light Wins remind us why.


To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Salon: This anti-gay movie is true evil: What are Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee doing in the vile “documentary” Light Wins?

Unicorn Booty: All The Lies (And Republican Presidential Candidates) In the Despicable Anti-Gay Doc ‘Light Wins’

Raw Story: Mike Huckabee and a passel of pastors star in hilariously over-dramatic trailer for anti-gay film



Friday, July 3, 2015

News Tidbits

WITF: Pennsylvania: 'Death to Islam' signs at West York Bar draw attention 

WBIR: East Tennessee hardware store puts up 'No Gays Allowed' sign

Sydney Morning Herald: Hillsong conference shows interview with controversial U.S. pastor Mark Driscoll

In Touch Weekly: Duggars Facing Lawsuit From Nonfamily Molestation Victim

Christian Science Monitor: What do same-sex opponents do now? New plans start to bubble

Associated Press: Roy Moore on gay marriage ruling: 'Christians are going to be persecuted'

The Clarion-Ledger: Mississippi: Grenada Circuit Clerk resigns over same-sex marriage

Lexington Herald-Leader: Several Kentucky county clerks defy same-sex marriage ruling, refuse to issue marriage licenses

Arkansas Online: Cleburne County clerk will resign over same-sex marriage licenses

WFAA 8: Texas: Clerk won't issue same-sex marriage license

Al Jazeera America: Archbishop's resignation could signal change for church


Commentary Tidbits

Center for New Community: Blurring Borders: Collusion Between Anti-Immigrant Groups and Immigration Enforcement Agents

SPLC Hatewatch: Extremist Highlights from the 2015 Western Conservative Summit

Washington Post: 81 things that Mike Huckabee has denounced

Warren Throckmorton: Hillsong’s Brian Houston Interviewed Mark and Grace Driscoll After All

Religion News Service: After gay marriage, expect conservative amnesia

Raw Story: Captive virgins, polygamy and sex slaves: What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible

Think Progress: Texas’ Attorney General Is Confused About How Religious Liberty Works

No Longer Quivering: When Christians Eat Their Own Wounded: Bill Gothard’s New Website

Huffington Post: An Evangelical Minister Explains Marriage to Rick Santorum, Dr. Moore and Mike Huckabee



Oath Keepers and ATLAH Pastor to Speak in Gettysburg on July 4th

There seems to be no end to controversial gatherings in my region this summer. Recently, Pennsylvania's Susquehanna Valley was the site of Restored Hope Network's annual conference and a seminar on Islamic extremism featuring Jerry Boykin. Now, a homophobic pastor and a controversial "patriot" organization are scheduled to appear in Gettysburg for an Independence Day event.

According to their website, Oath Keepers will gather at the Eternal Light Peace Memorial on the Gettysburg Battlefield at 11 a.m. on July 4th. The purpose of the gathering is to "pray and bring attention to the struggles of our great nation and the attempts to divide the races," the website states. Speakers will include Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and James David Manning, pastor of ATLAH World Missionary Church in Harlem, New York. (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)

ATLAH is encouraging people to take an all expenses-paid bus trip to Gettysburg for the event, which will feature gospel music and a barbecue. Funding for this trip may be a problem, since Manning begged his supporters to donate money to the event in a June 25th video.

ATLAH World Missionary Church is infamous for its inflammatory signs condemning LGBTQ people. The church has posted messages on its marquee such as "Jesus Would Stone Homos ... Stoning Is Still the Law" and "Harlem Is a Sodomite Free Zone; Stop Sodomizing Our Children in Schools Across America", according to Huffington Post.

ATLAH pastor James David Manning is notorious for his bizarre, homophobic statements about gays. During a 2014 online commentary, Manning claimed that Starbucks uses semen from "sodomites" to flavor its coffee, according to the International Business Times. Starbucks is a gathering place for "upscale sodomites", he insisted, according to Huffington Post. What Manning's obsession with gays suggests about him, we can only speculate.




Manning's appearance in Gettysburg, the site of a major Civil War battle in 1863, will come in the wake of his bizarre video statement on same-sex marriage. A new Civil War will erupt over same-sex marriage, he claimed, insisting that "the Confederates and the South will win this time." (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)





Manning's friends at the Gettysburg event also have a controversial reputation. Oath Keepers describes itself as a non-partisan organization devoted to protecting the U.S. Constitution.
"Oath Keepers is a non-partisan association of current and formerly serving military, police, and first responders  who pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” That oath, mandated by Article VI of the Constitution itself, is to the Constitution, not to the politicians, and Oath Keepers declare that they will not obey unconstitutional orders, such as orders to disarm the American people, to conduct warrantless searches, or to detain Americans as “enemy combatants” in violation of their ancient right to jury trial..."
Oath Keepers' "Declaration of Orders We Will NOT Obey" seems to have been written with fear of government detention camps, blockades, mercenaries, and an overreaching federal power in mind. The declaration includes the following vows:

  • "We will NOT obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty and declares the national government to be in violation of the compact by which that state entered the Union."

  • "We will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps."

  • "We will NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext."

  • "We will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances." 

  • "We will NOT obey orders to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on U.S. soil against the American people to “keep the peace” or to “maintain control” during any emergency, or under any other pretext. We will consider such use of foreign troops against our people to be an invasion and an act of war."

The organization has a controversial history. Oath Keepers drew media attention in 2014 when members stood guard in Ferguson, Missouri, the city in which Michael Brown was shot by police officer Darren Wilson. St. Louis County Police told the Oath Keepers to stop perching on Ferguson rooftops, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Eventually, authorities ordered the Oath Keepers to leave, according to Fox 2 St. Louis.

Oath Keepers also supported Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy during his high-profile dispute with the Bureau of Land Management, according to Talking Points Memo. SPLC Hatewatch reported that tensions erupted between the Oath Keepers and other militiamen during their time at the Bundy ranch camp.

The vitriolic language of the group's leader has also attracted public attention. Stewart Rhodes, the founder of Oath Keepers, said that Senator John McCain should be "hung by the neck until dead" for treason at a Liberty On Tap gathering in Tempe, Arizona, according to the Arizona Republic and Right Wing Watch.

I don't know what public statements will come out of this collaboration between Oath Keepers and Manning. I do wonder how much racial harmony will be realized at a gathering featuring a pastor who claimed that "sodomy is a white people's disease" and praised a KKK imperial wizard who "despises and eschews evil the way any righteous man will".


For more information, visit Right Wing Watch, which has kept meticulous tabs on Oath Keepers and Manning. Hatewatch, the blog of the Southern Poverty Law Center, regularly reports on U.S. patriot groups, including Oath Keepers.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Commentary Tidbits

The Daily Beast: Watching Pride as an Ex-Evangelical

Washington Post: Why a lot of evangelicals aren’t actually that upset about the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision

RH Reality Check: Gay Republicans Met With Hostility at GOP Convention

Raw Story: Christian pastor says his new anti-LGBT movie was inspired after meeting nice lesbian couple

Religion Dispatches: Evangelical “Sexual Purity” Is Not About Sex — It’s About Power

Rosa Rubicondior: Catholic Church Just Doesn't Get It! 


News Tidbits

Associated Press: Religious liberty is rallying cry after gay marriage ruling 

New York Times: With Same-Sex Decision, Evangelical Churches Address New Reality

LGBTQ Nation: Republican White House hopefuls deride same-sex marriage ruling

Pink News: Rick Santorum: The next president should protect people of faith from same-sex marriage

Fox 13: LGBT groups plan Inclusive Families Conference in SLC ahead of World Congress of Families convention

Forbes: Gay Pride In Korea Faces Christian Rage As Seen At Rally In Seoul

New Vision: Uganda: You were not created to use condoms, says Cardinal Wamala


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Restored Hope Network Holds 2015 Conference in Lancaster, PA



I planned to observe the Restored Hope Network conference for Republic of Gilead, until the weather report called for torrential rain and possible flooding. Rather than drive to Lancaster in potentially unsafe conditions, I stayed home. I wish I could have infiltrated!  -- Ahab

Restored Hope Network, a coalition of so-called "ex-gay" groups, held its annual conference at Door Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, Pennsylvania on June 26th and 27th. Restored Hope Network promotes conversion therapy, which can purportedly change a person's sexual orientation or sexual identity to a cisgender, heterosexual identity. The organization has risen to prominence in the ex-gay movement in the years following Exodus International's closure.

The history of Anne Paulk, executive director of Restored Hope Network, is an ironic one. In 2013, her husband John Paulk, former chairman of the ex-gay organization Exodus International, publicly admitted that he was not "ex-gay" and apologized for the harm caused by conversion therapy. Anne Paulk released a statement admitting that she and John were divorcing, adding that her heart was "grieved by John’s words and moral choices".

The conference comes at a time when the ex-gay movement has lost credibility in public consciousness. The closure of Exodus International, White House condemnation of conversion therapy, the apologies of several former "ex-gay" activists, and public rejection of the ex-gay movement by former adherents have dealt the movement repeated black eyes. Ontario, Oregon, California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia have passed laws banning conversion therapy for minors. Friday's New Jersey court ruling that JONAH's conversion therapy claims violated the state's Consumer Fraud Act also sullied the movement's reputation.

Medical professions and researchers doubt the efficacy of conversion therapy and warn that it can produce negative outcomes. A 2009 report by the American Psychological Association concluded that efforts to change people's sexual orientation are not only unlikely to be successful, but involve risks of harm as well. The Pan American Health Organization, the American Medical Association, and other health groups have criticized conversion therapy, while research has shown that sexual orientation change efforts are highly dubious. Defenders of conversion therapy such as NARTH have been accused of promoting dangerous junk science, misrepresenting other professionals' research, and fueling homophobia.

Given conversion therapy's reputation, an ex-gay conference was bound to create controversy.


*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Speaking on behalf of Restored Hope Network, Garry Ingraham told Pennlive that the organization simply wants to help people who have unwanted sexual feelings. "We are simply making ourselves available for people who have unwanted same-sex attractions, issues with gender dysphoria and want support in living a life that is congruent with their personal values and faith," he said.

LGBTQ rights advocates have condemned the conference, arguing that conversion therapy is inherently homophobic. Louie Marven, executive director of the LGBT Center of Central Pennsylvania, argued that conversion therapy harms LGBTQ people. "This conference will not bring hope to anyone. The message that LGBTQ people should change our sexual orientation or gender identity is inherently not hopeful. This is a message that hurts LGBTQ people and our families," Marven wrote in a Lancaster Online editorial.

Pennsylvania political leaders also criticized conversion therapy as the conference approached. Kait Gillis, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services press secretary, told Lancaster Online that Govenor Tom Wolf's administration does not endorse conversion therapy and will work toward a ban of the practice in Pennsylvania.

Executive director Anne Paulk was unhappy with the way that some media outlets have portrayed conversion therapy. In a June 26th Facebook message, she expressed her outrage that the "secular media" and the "gay activist community" have described the ex-gay movement in negative terms.
"... Several articles that have quoted us accurately, despite the surrounding gay arguments against the validity of our point of view that use "expert opinion" to discount and minimize the reasons that people seek to change their lives, behavior and identity. Pastor Garry Ingraham did a great job representing our network. I find it interesting that others will take issue that he was accurately quoted, and then quote Alan Chambers who disbanded Exodus tragically and apologized for hurt feelings of those who remain involved in homosexual relationships and feel that change is unnecessary or impossible for them. But there remain those of us who both have left gay relationships, behaviors, identities and also have had various degrees of resolution of related feelings. Christianity would label errant or unwanted feelings to be temptations, not sin. Sin is taking action upon what God condemns in scripture.

Much of the secular media strongly present those who oppose the idea of transformation--even when it is both desired and experienced. The gay activist community has trained them to discount the freedom of choice for a person to pursue a course of care that they both want and thrive in because it cannot be allowed to stand in their minds ...

How dare we change and thrive?? This can simply not be allowed by some and they are so offended that they choose to malign and lie about methodology--claiming irrelevant aversion therapy that has nothing to do with our ministries. They imply the motive is to control others, when the truth is that we are simply walking alongside and sharing the hope we ourselves have received. "


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The Restored Hope Network conference itinerary suggested that LGBTQ status was an undesirable state, rather than a natural expression of sexuality and gender identity. Several workshops championed Christianity as an alleged key to sexual morality, framing LGBTQ status as something to be overcome through faith rather than embraced. "Who I Am", led by Denise Shick, discussed the supposed "identity crises" encountered by people who are "confused about their God-given gender", an apparent jab at transgender and gender-nonconforming persons. "Open to Life: How Jesus Transforms Persons with Same Sex Attraction" offered tools and strategies that Christians can use to "unlock hearts bound up by same-sex attraction".

The policing of sexuality was also a recurring topic at the conference. A workshop entitled "Gay Christian?" claimed that gay believers who choose to live celibate lives are engaging in "a major compromise" and making room for "embracing a disordered identity". On a different note, "Chastity as Life and Freedom in the Holy Spirit", led by Christopher West, framed chastity as a form of freedom. The implication, it seems, is that same-sex intimacy is incompatible with Christian chastity.
"Chastity is not merely a "no" to illicit sexual behavior. Chastity, more than anything, is a "yes" to the freedom for which Christ has set us free -- the freedom to love as he loves!"
Several workshops encouraged anti-LGBTQ interpretations of scripture. "Homotextuality: How Pro-Gay Advocates Misuse the Bible" condemns the "fallacy" that one can be both gay and Christian, arguing against "revisionist" interpretations of scripture. "Does the Bible No Longer Oppose Homosexual Practice?" deconstructs theological writings that support "homosexual unions". Pastor Phil Courson's workshop, "Did God Really Say..." Affirming the Inerrancy of Scripture" endorsed an inerrant interpretation of the Bible.

Predictably, the Restored Hope Network conference encouraged attendees to spread ex-gay thinking throughout their faith communities. A workshop entitled "Creating a Church Culture of Transformation" urged churches to become "a safe place of transformation for persons with ssa [same-sex attraction]". A class entitled "How to Start a Ministry" taught listeners how to create ministries devoted to ex-gay teachings. In an era when ex-gay organizations are shutting down and losing credibility, it's understandable why Restored Hope Network would want its supporters to expand the movement.

In short, workshops caricatured LGBTQ status as a state of confusion and disorder that is incompatible with the Bible. In the eyes of presenters, anything other than a heterosexual, cisgender identity is wrong and must be resisted. Despite all of Restored Hope Network's talk of "transformation" and "thriving", the ex-gay movement is fundamentally about repression of natural feelings. Where is the spiritual nourishment in this?

Conversion therapy, at its core, is about pressuring LGBTQ people to feel ashamed of their inclinations and to conform. Pitting people's sexuality against their spirituality can only bring sorrow, not spiritual growth.



To read additional news, visit the following links.

Pennlive: Church group seeks to 'repair' gays and lesbians

Pennlive: Church group leader, who says he changed from gay to straight, believes court ruling will lead to destruction of the family

News Tidbits

New York Times: Conservative Lawmakers and Faith Groups Seek Exemptions After Same-Sex Ruling

Washington Post: An exclusive look at the draft schedule for Pope Francis’s U.S. trip this fall

The Advocate: Texas Pastor Now Says He Didn't Mean He'd Really Set Himself Aflame

Religion News Service: 5 faith facts about Bobby Jindal: an ‘evangelical Catholic’


Commentary Tidbits

Religion Dispatches: Anti-Gay Evangelicalism is the Norm: A Less Rosy Take on the Evangelical “Tipping Point” 

Mic: I Infiltrated an 'Ex-Gay' Group in New York City — And This Is What It Did to Me

Media Matters: Megyn Kelly Moment: Fox's "Rising Star" Invites Anti-LGBT Hate Group Leader To Discuss Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Stuff Fundies Like: Why I’m Not Worried About Same-Sex Marriage (and You’re Not Either)

Washington Post: Alan Chambers: I once led an ex-gay ministry. Here’s why I now support people in gay marriages.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Boykin to Speak at Pennsylvania Conference on Radical Islam

In recent years, my region has hosted a healthy number of Religious Right events. Pennsylvania's Susquehanna Valley has been the site of two Exodus International events, Vision Forum's History of America Mega-Conference, the recent U-Turn Conference, and the annual meeting of the Restored Hope Network (which I'll write about soon). On Monday, Scotland, PA will be the site of a conference featuring William G. "Jerry" Boykin, executive vice president of the Family Research Council and a controversial anti-Islam activist.

The Academy for Global Leadership will host the "It Is Time!" Symposium at the Winebrenner Theological Seminary in Scotland, PA on Monday, June 29th. The conference schedule features presentations on topics such as "Becoming Warriors in God’s Kingdom" and "Strategies for Advancing the Gospel and Decreasing the Expansion of Radical Islam". Boykin, who has a long history of condemning radical Islam, is scheduled to speak at the event.

In an article at Public Opinion Online, Winebrenner CEO David Newell warns that Islamic extremist threatens America. "Once you understand the strategies that are being brought to bear to recruit and increase influence, you will understand the scope and the very real nature of the threat," he said.

With regard to Islamic extremist recruitment in the U.S., Newell lacked specifics. "I am not privy to the specifics of their recruiting strategies. I only know and have been informed of their presence, and the fact that they do indeed recruit," he told Public Opinion Online.

I have mixed feelings about conservative Christian speakers warning their audience about radical Islam in the U.S. On one hand, Islamic extremism is very real and very deadly, as ongoing strife in the Middle East and Friday's terror attacks in three countries demonstrate. However, will Monday's seminar provide a clear-eyed perspective on the Islamic extremist threat, or will it distract audiences from the much more pressing danger of right-wing extremism?

White supremacists, sovereign citizens, and other right-wing extremists are a growing threat in the U.S., and a far more immediate threat than Islamic extremists. For example, New America recently posted data on deadly extremist attacks in the U.S. from 2001 to the present, noting that almost twice as many victims died in right-wing attacks than in jihadist attacks. The Charleston shooting and the recent wave of arson attacks on African-American churches in the south remind us that white supremacists are still terrorizing communities of color. Pennsylvania, where the It Is Time symposium will take place, is home to over two dozen hate groups (including white supremacist, neo-Nazi, black separatist, and anti-LGBTQ groups), according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Islamic extremism might trigger fear in some American audiences, but right-wing extremism poses the more immediate threat.

At a time when right-wing extremist violence is dominating the news, will the It Is Time seminar acknowledge the threat of right-wing extremism alongside Islamic extremism? Or will Islamic extremism serve as a source of fear in their narrative?