There is hardly a bigger motivator than fear, and it is a fact not lost on Republicans who prey on Americans’ fear of all things not conservative, but especially those foreign “extremists.” Of course, some Americans are acutely aware that the biggest threat to their safety, and the nation, is from American extremists in the white supremacist, anti-government, and fanatical Christian movements. Whether it was the white supremacist who massacred nine African Americans in church, several predominately Black churches set on fire across the South, or armed militias seeking to start a war against the United States government, most people comprehend that homegrown extremists pose the greatest threat to America.
In fact, some Americans may recall that it was just six years ago in 2009 that the Department of Homeland Security released a report warning that the greatest threat to Americans and national security was from domestic extremists. The report elicited such outrage from Republicans, conservatives, and religious right groups that the DHS all-but apologized for reporting empirical data, and then retracted the report and terminated the team tasked with investigating non-Muslim violent extremism on American soil. However, a research organization in Washington is not backing down like the DHS did and issued its findings that mirror the 2009 DHS report results that Americans should be terrified of homegrown extremists that, by the way, are not Muslims.
The new report from New America, released a little over a week after a Confederate extremist gunned down nine people in Charleston, finds that since the September 11, 2001, “nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, anti-government fanatics and other ‘non-Muslim’ extremists than by radical Muslims.” According to the New York Times, this real and present danger to Americans, and national security, is not a new revelation to the nation’s police and sheriffs. A survey released just last week revealed that not only is there a bigger threat from homegrown extremists in the “conservative” movement than from “radical Muslims,” the domestic extremist threat to Americans is very “familiar to police officers.” In fact, three-quarters of police and sheriffs listed anti-government extremism as a greater threat to their communities than “Al Qaeda-inspired” violence.
When the DHS issued its report on countering violent right-wing extremism in 2009, religious right extremists such as the American Family Association (AFA) and Family Research Council (FRC), as well as the American Center for Law and Justice and Concerned Women for America were insane-angry and claimed President Obama used the DHS to attack Christians. The religious right “legal advocacy” group, Liberty Counsel, concluded that the President targeted Christians and then handed out cards to its members to show DHS and law enforcement officials they were in solidarity with violent right-wing extremist groups.
In February, six months before this latest report, Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) referred back to the 2009 DHS report and complained to a Family Research Council host that “the Obama administration is more aggressive toward Americans, Republicans, conservatives, Christians, and concerned about them being threats to the country, which they’re not, than they are about the real threats to our country.” Of course, the DHS report, New America report, and three-quarters of police and sheriffs heartily disagree with Poe’s contention. In fact, according to recent religious right clergy closely aligned with Republicans calling for violence against other Christians, gays, and marriage equality supporters, Representative Poe’s assertion is patently false; and he knows it.
One religious right extremist with close ties to both Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul used biblical scripture and Catholic dogma as the foundation for calling for the execution of LGBT people and their Christian supporters. The maniac, Theodore Shoebat, appeared with Republican presidential candidates Huckabee and Paul, as well as with congressional Representatives Trent Franks (R-AZ), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), and Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) in a recent anti-gay film. Shoebat said that “Opinions expressed in favor for homosexuality and other deviancies (such as cannibalism), are worthy of capital punishment to purely illustrate that Christianity is so much against the license to do evil — even if it is done in private — that it prohibits any approval of it.”
Shoebat, a self-described “Christian militant” that the DHS and New America reports seemed to specifically warn about claimed that homosexuality is seditious because it represents a threat to “the building block of society,” marriage. He claims that, “The sodomite, the atheist, the fanatic feminist, the Muslim — all such must be deemed as criminals and enemies to civilization, for they war against the Faith. They should be told to leave their wicked ways under coercion, and if that does not work, then death is the only solution.” It is noteworthy that although Republicans do not particularly call for violence or death sentences, they have incited those kinds of actions with their fear-mongering claims that Christians face an existential threat because Constitutional equality extends to all Americans.
Another group of dangerous right extremists, anti-LGBT Christian preachers, leveled warnings that god would take vengeance on America and cited the Christian dissenters on the Supreme Court to call for stoning to death ministers who performed same-sex marriages, and the execution of all LGBT people. Pastor Steven Anderson, of Faithful Word Baptist Church, agreed with Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, Mike Huckabee, Piyush “Bobby” Jindal, Rand Paul, and other Republicans that the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling was invalid because it was against god’s law and that the ruling meant that Christians were going to be punished.
After calling for stoning deaths, Anderson reiterated the Christ-like love for all humanity his religion’s namesake preached by boasting that “I hate them (gays) with a perfect hatred.” He then preached for Christians to “have the guts to stand up to our culture that now accepts homos,” and asked, “where’s the hope, where’s the love and the grace? It isn’t there.” So there it is in a nutshell; perfect Christian hatred, calls to stone to death non-compliant preachers and gays, hope, love, and the grace that any semi-sane human being would label perfect religious right-wing extremism.
This new report on the threat of right-wing extremism is only different from the old report on the threat of right-wing extremism in that now religious Republicans have openly aligned themselves with the extremists Americans should fear most. There is a good reason the religious right and Republicans were ballistic when the Department of Homeland Security released its report on the threat from right-wing extremists in 2009; the DHS exposed them for what they would become when their drive for theocracy hit a 14th Amendment speed-bump in the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling.
It is just a matter of time before there are more extremist attacks against Americans and it will come from the evangelical extremists that Republicans have joined forces with and worked into religious frenzy that because gays have Constitutional rights Christians face an existential threat. History shows that religious frenzy, coupled with religious extremism, never ends well and it appears that is precisely what extremist Republicans aligned with evangelical fanatics hope comes to pass. Based on the New America report, they will get their hope fulfilled.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.