Preaching about the “evils of Islam” and the need for evangelical Christians to step up and defend the Constitution, their beliefs and way of life appears to be a burgeoning business opportunity.
Evidence of that apparent trend showed up over the weekend when Shahram Hadian, a former Muslim who converted to Christianity, spoke to a group of about 50 people at Covenant Church in Spokane, Wash. It was the second weekend in a row for his anti-Islam roadshow.
Besides a “love offering” taken after his three-hour speech, Hadian was selling an array of anti-Islam DVD videos, books and pamphlets. He also operates “TIL Project Ministries,” which is based around anti-Islam, anti-LGBT, anti-abortion, anti-media and other far-right ideologies.
Hadian’s message appears modeled after that of notorious Islamophobes Pamela Geller and Geert Wilders, both of whom he mentioned in his remarks.
In late February, Hadian spoke to what was described as a sold-out crowd of evangelical pastors, Bible-study leaders and others who gathered at a “Steeling Your Mind” confab at Spokane’s historic Davenport Hotel. That event was sponsored by “Compass International,” which describes itself as a “religious organization” founded by Bill Perkins. When not hosting such gatherings, Compass International sells tickets for tours to Italy and Israel.
Besides supporting himself with speaking tours throughout the United States, Hadian also has delivered his anti-Islam message to various political leaders, including Republican members of the Idaho Legislature. The former Muslim also claims he has provided training about the dangers of Islam to law enforcement officers.
His multi-media presentation included reported polling data from the Center for Security Policy, a hate group that serves as a prominent think tank for the anti-Muslim movement founded in 1988 by Frank Gaffney Jr., a former Reagan administration defense official. Hadian also has been affiliated with ACT for America, largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in America, claiming 280,000 members and over 1,000 chapters.
Dean Lynch, president of the Spokane County Human Rights Task Force, said Hadian appears to be part of a campaign to demonize Islam and incite “fear within the Muslim community and the community at large.”
At Covenant Church Saturday night, Hadian was introduced by Pastor Ken Peters, who oversees “Covenant” churches in Moses Lake, Washington, and Spokane. The audience included someone driving a beat-up pickup truck, parked next to a dirty snow pile, plastered with “Stop Planned Parenthood” and “Uncle Sam Wants You to Speak English” stickers.
While many of the city’s residents were watching the nationally ranked Gonzaga University basketball team in playoffs, the church crowd appeared mesmerized by Hadian, shouting “Amen” and “Praise God” to his remarks.
Islamic extremists, he told the mostly white crowd, are attempting to bring their “violent and civilized” holy wars — jihads — to the United States where their intention is to impose their Islamic “Shariah Law” over the entire population.
“We want to eradicate political correctness,” he said, blasting the “interfaith ecumenical movement” and its message of a “common God.” “This is the lie from the pit of hell!” he said.
But his most-scathing remarks were directed at Islam. “The whole purpose of the Quran is to refute Christianity,” he said. In the United States, “Islam’s assault on the U.S. Constitution” is being furthered by the Muslim Brotherhood and pro-Islamic “front-groups” such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Student Association, Hadian said.
“I do believe our Constitution protects individual rights of Muslims,” he told the court, but “that does not mean, though, that Islam can be protected under our Constitution.”
In Europe, he said, political leaders are “blatantly lying” about how a wave of immigrants — many of them Muslims — are changing the religious and cultural landscape. “They’re saying, ‘Hey, Europeans, we’re going to take you over.’”
He claimed European women are afraid to go out at night because of Muslim gangs and said 77 percent of the rapes occurring in Sweden are committed by “foreigners.” Hadian claimed there are “Shariah-controlled zones” in Germany, Canada and Australia, a statement that has been debunked by others.
“Western society, based on Judeo-Christianity, is under assault,” he said, telling the crowd they could learn more about that by buying his DVD presentations.
Hadian said Shariah law violates provisions of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, claiming non-Muslims cannot own firearms and are “never equal” to Muslims. In another statement not easily verified, Hadian said U.S. courts have “accepted Islamic law as justification” in 136 cases, evidence he claims shows Shariah law is creeping into U.S. society and its criminal justice system.
“Islam is not a religion,” Hadian said. “It is not a religion of peace.”
“This is an assault,” he shouted as his lengthy, non-stop presentation came to an end. “This is an all-out war. Islam has breached this nation!”
Muslims in the United States “don’t’ want to co-exist, they want to take us over.”
He concluded by sounding like an acolyte for Donald Trump — “build the wall and secure our borders” — calling former President Obama “the greatest apologizer for Islam.”
Hadian said he supports “legislation protecting us from foreign law” and Trump’s call for limits on immigration. He said the Justice Department, the FBI and Homeland Security “must stop working with the Muslim Brotherhood” and support legislation labeling the group as a “terrorist organization.”
There was no picketing outside, and Hadian’s presentation likely was not widely known in the community.
Lynch, of Spokane’s human rights task force, said one of the tenets upon which the United States is founded is the principal of religious freedom. “We as a government and a people have not always lived up to that tenet but the Spokane County Human Rights Task Force stands behind the Constitution, guaranteeing the freedom of religion,” he said.
“Spokane County is honored to have a great diversity of active religious beliefs,” Lynch told Hatewatch. “Any effort to attack or undermine a specific religion is an attack on individuals and families who live in our community. It is an affront to our humanity and in direct conflict to being a compassionate city. Too many people are living in fear.”
The task force, Lynch said, “believes in the importance of building bridges to work together across differences rather than to incite efforts to destroy those bridges and the commonality we all share.”
“The efforts of Mr. Shahram Hadian to demonize Islam incite fear within the Muslim community and the community at large,” the human rights group’s president said. “We live in one of the safest places in the world. We don’t need to create unnecessary fear and suspicion.”
“Efforts to demonize Islam cannot be tolerated any more than efforts to demonize Judaism, Christianity or any other faith,” Lynch said, pledging that the human rights task force “will use all available platforms to join others in speaking out against hatred and intolerance.”
Arsalan Bukhari, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Seattle, has said Hadian’s lectures “advance fringe ideas and falsehoods.”
He also said Hadian’s “inflammatory speech leads to kids being bullied in schools, adults being taunted at work, vandalism of property and hate crimes.”