February 5, 2018 Posted by Daryl Johnson in Media Interviews

UNITED STATES, [US]--Rising right-wing extremism in the United States appears to have breathed new life into militant Christian groups including the ‘Army of God’ (AOG) – a violent network which first rose to prominence in the early 1980s. Openly promoting the killing of abortion providers, it supports individuals jailed for the murders of healthcare workers, and it has been linked to a number of domestic terror attacks on targets across America. The organisation’s de facto religious leader, Reverend Donald Spitz, spoke to 50.50 in a rare interview from his home in Virginia late last year. “People are standing up more for the rights of the family,” he told us, claiming that with President Donald Trump in the White House, the AOG has been re-energised and has attracted more supporters, whilst allowing long-time allies to also be more open about their views. “This group is growing and the election of Donald Trump has helped because before we were being crushed so much that nobody wanted to say anything, but now it’s OK to say these things,” he said, in comments that chime with the hate speech versus free speech debate that far-right activists are trying to push onto political agendas around the world. The ‘right to offend’ is being used to justify hate speech and harassment in many places. Domestic terrorism expert Daryl Johnson has meanwhile identified a certain reluctance among the counter-terrorism community to investigate or even acknowledge how Christian extremists use religion to recruit and radicalise supporters, much in the same way that Islamists do. His 2017 report "Hate In God’s Name" is among the few to have looked into this issue, sounding the alarm on links between such groups to current, and increasingly mainstream, far-right political momentum. View More>>

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