As defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a hate group is one that holds “beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” According to the SPLC, there are 939 hate groups currently operating in the United States, many of which are religiously driven. Some of these groups are led by people like James Wickstrom, a Christian minister and radio talk show host who often calls for the extermination of Jews in his sermons. Wickstrom has an extensive criminal history and has been preaching his hatred since the 1970s. Thomas Robb is another hate group ringleader. A Christian-Identity Church pastor and longtime leader of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Robb preaches the preservation and grand authority of the white race over all others. Both leaders are, unsurprisingly, anti-LGBTQ as well.
Kingdom Identity Ministries is one of the largest suppliers of so-called Christian Identity materials that present a racist interpretation of Christianity. Their products include training books, pamphlets, and Bible study courses. Their mission to preserve the white race encourages white women to reproduce only within their race and encourages the superiority of the white male as interpreted from the Bible.
America’s Promise Ministries is a congregation that relies strongly on the literal interpretation of the Bible. This church also insists that Jesus was white and believes that all greatness achieved in the United States is attributed to the work of the white race and none other. Several members of this congregation have committed violent acts of terrorism and murder, including abortion clinic bombings, bank robberies, and shootings.
There are extreme religious movements emerging in the United States that strongly oppose LGBTQ rights, minority rights, racial equality, and gender equality. Radical Traditional Catholicism, whose ideology has been rejected by the Vatican, is a traditionalist movement comprised of numerous people who have been exiled from the church. This group is one of the largest anti-Semite groups in the United States.
Although there are many religious Americans who are good at heart and genuinely believe and exemplify love and acceptance, there is no denying that fanatical religious belief can be a breeding ground for hate, violence, and bigotry. When the beliefs that define one’s entire world are threatened, ideologues will often do all that is necessary to preserve it.
It’s unfortunate that there are more groups in this category than I am able to talk about here. Hate is a product of conditioning, upbringing, ignorance, and narrow-mindedness. The solution must be teaching tolerance and acceptance wherever we can.
For more information about hate groups and to find great resources, please visit the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website at www.splcenter.org.