Last year, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) helped appoint extremist right-wing Christian Tony Perkins to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
This was of serious concern to Right Wing Watch which noted his track record of spreading anti-Muslim hate in the U.S. Perkins also heads the virulently anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council (FRC), so calling him an extremist isn’t an exaggeration, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reports, noting three very good reasons why he deserves this appellation, writes Friendly Atheist’s, David Gee.
“Perkins has a sordid political history, having once purchased Klansman David Duke’s mailing list for use in a Louisiana political campaign he was managing. In 2001 Perkins gave a speech to a Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservatives, a white supremacist group.”
And lastly, the SPLC reports:
“Since joining the FRC, Perkins has taken the group in a harder, anti-LGBT direction, using it to publish false propaganda about that community and contending that gay-rights advocates intend to round up Christians in boxcars.”
Perkins has also claimed religious freedom doesn’t belong to Muslims and promoted an agenda of so-called “religious liberty” that protects only the most orthodox Christians, Gee writes. He’s a man who insists Islam “is incompatible with the Constitution.” And he advocates restricting Muslims from coming to the U.S. by weirdly claiming without verification that “only 16 percent of Islam is a religion.”
Perhaps the most odious fact about the FRC is that it’s worked with some of the most religiously oppressive regimes. These are so oppressive, in fact, that the USCIRF has categorized them as some of the worst places for religious freedom. And the FRC has done whatever it can to ensure the rights of LGBTQ people are denied all around the world and to make certain that governments can enforce draconian religious views on gender, sexuality, and family.
Speaking at an event held by the USCIRF in Washington, D.C. last April, Perkins said that while some countries like Russia and China are becoming more religiously oppressive, he said some Middle Eastern countries with doing better. He credited the Trump administration for this, and while that’s all well and good, another disturbing problem is cropping up.
Right Wing Watch’s Peter Montgomery notes:
“Last year, though a group of former diplomats warned that the rise of anti-Muslim and nativist rhetoric in the U.S. was threatening the ability of the U.S. to advocate effectively for human rights and religious minorities overseas.”
That’s why it’s so disturbing that Perkins is heading this influential commission. Anti-Muslim rhetoric is at a fever pitch in the U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has been regularly pilloried since being elected to Congress in January, so she knows how serious this problem is. To be a prominent Muslim in the U.S. is to be constantly attacked, whether verbally or physically. With this man at the helm, it’s likely that any religions with divergent views may suffer increased persecution.
And we haven’t even touched on how this may (or may not) affect atheists. Imagine that.