Under pressure, Baptist church drops plans for anti-Muslim program on 9/11

A Baptist church in Michigan has dropped plans to host a controversial 9/11 anniversary event after two members of Congress called it out for spreading Islamophobia.

Bloomfield Hills Baptist Church cancelled a two-day spectacle “9/11 forgotten? Is Michigan surrendering to Islam?” amid widespread condemnation after its pastor defended it in an interview on local television.

“I am an Islamophobe,” Pastor Donald McKay told Fox2News in Detroit Sept. 5. “I wear that badge proudly.”

Congressman Andy Levin and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, both Democrats, responded with a joint statement saying “there is no place for hate in Metro Detroit, in Michigan or anywhere in the United States.”

“We implore the Bloomfield Baptist Church to forgo the anti-Muslim events planned for next week and instead recognize America’s rich cultural and religious diversity as we reflect on one of the most painful days in our country’s history and heal from recent acts of white supremacist violence,” the lawmakers said. “As people of faith, we ask Michiganders to unify in peace and celebrate our shared humanity to help prevent future acts of hatred.”

The two-day event, originally scheduled for the evenings of Sept. 11 and Sept. 12 at Bloomfield Baptist Church, was promoted as featuring talks on “How the Interfaith Movement is Sabotaging America and the Church” and “How Islam is Destroying America from Within.”

Scheduled speakers were Jim Simpson, a freelance journalist who has written for conservative outlets including former Reagan Pentagon official Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy and author of The Red-Green Axis 2.0: An Existential Threat to America and the World, and Shahram Hadian, an Iranian-born Christian pastor who travels around the country in a ministry project called Truth in Love.

Levin, who is Jewish, tweeted Tuesday he is glad the event was canceled. “There is no place for hate in America, and stories like this one are why we must call it out when we see it,” he said.

Dingell, widow of former U.S. Rep. John Dingell and a Roman Catholic, called it a “divisive” event that never should have been scheduled in the first place. “Hate has no place in any community,” she said, “especially hate based on religion.”

The group sponsoring the cancelled event, called the Metro Detroit Freedom Coalition, said it will go on as a one-night webinar instead of a two-day face-to-face meeting.

The volunteer-led coalition describes its purpose as “to protect and promote the American value system” and mission to pursue public policy to ensure “the protection of all human life including that of the unborn; individual liberty; private property; families headed by one man and one woman; reduction in the size of government; lower taxes for everyone; minimal regulation; and use of public education to instill a deep appreciation for America and its values.”

Bloomfield Hills Baptist Church (Google Maps photo)

Bloomfield Hills Baptist Church is part of the North American Baptist Conference, a denominational group founded by German-speaking Baptists in 1865. Today the network numbers about 400 churches in the United States and Canada with a combined membership near 74,000, sends missionaries and supports two seminaries.

McKay, senior pastor of Bloomfield Hills Baptist Church since 2008, has a track record of past comments critical of Islam.

“We do not hate Muslims; we hate the ideology that they are identified with,” the pastor told Fox2News.

“We believe that Muslims — committed Muslims, that are familiar with their faith — are committed really to the overthrow of the United States and to world domination,” he said.

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