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Over the weekend, fusions of religion and extremism at drag present protests throughout nation

(RNS) — Over the weekend, red-shirted members of NatSoc Florida, a brand new white supremacist group, gathered exterior a “Celebration of the Arts” occasion in Lakeland, Florida. There to protest a drag present that was a part of the occasion, the lads waved Nazi flags and indicators scrawled with hate speech, comparable to one which learn “Drag queens are pedophiles with AIDS.”

Later, the lads stood for {a photograph} whereas giving a Nazi salute. Three of them held a big emblem as they did so: a Christian flag.

It was considered one of not less than three incidents over the weekend the place extremism and religion intersected, with hate teams and their supporters invoking God whereas giving voice to virulent anti-LGBTQ sentiment.

In Columbus, Ohio, a number of right-wing teams descended on a sidewalk exterior First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus, the place Crimson Oak Group Faculty — which rents house from the church — was slated to host a “Holi-Drag Storytime.” The occasion was canceled, however hate teams confirmed up anyway, together with members of the white nationalist group Patriot Entrance in addition to the violent far-right group Proud Boys. In accordance with footage of the protest, standing close to Proud Boys have been a separate group of males in navy fatigues who brandished firearms. Just a few yards away, members of a “White Lives Matter” chapter gave Nazi salutes and waved Christian flags subsequent to a banner that learn “Groomers not welcome,” a time period adopted by anti-LGBTQ advocates and infrequently used when condemning actions involving LGBTQ folks and youngsters.

One sign learn: “Unitarian is Scientology for poor folks.”

On the opposite aspect of the road, a counterprotester held an indication that decried Proud Boys as “faux patriots” and “faux Christians.”

In different footage from the day, a small gaggle of spiritual protesters — who don’t look like affiliated with the right-wing teams — is seen feuding with supporters of the drag occasion. After an trade, a lady with the non secular group declares: “The Scriptures do say to hate.”

Proud Boys members protest close to First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus in Columbus, Ohio, on Dec. 3, 2022. Video display screen seize through Twitter/@BGOnTheScene

The Rev. Susan Frederick-Grey, president of the Unitarian Universalist Affiliation, decried the teams, citing the UUA’s long-standing assist for LGBTQ folks.

“The armed right-wing agitation in Columbus is antithetical to our elementary ethical UU worth of the human dignity and value of each individual,” she instructed Faith Information Service in a press release. “Their motion was abhorrent as a result of it solely sought to oppress the liberty of expression of the LGBTQIA+ group. Unitarian Universalists will proceed to affirm our LGBTQIA+ pals, neighbors, and family members and combat to guard our rights to assist and love them.”

In the meantime, in North Carolina, an ongoing debate over a drag present exacerbated tensions surrounding an assault on the ability grid in Moore County. Weeks earlier than the present, the Fb group of Moore County Residents for Freedom, which is run by former U.S. Military psychological operations officer Emily Grace Rainey, posted a message itemizing the sponsors of the present and their contact data. Above it was the caption, “You recognize what to do.”

When two totally different energy substations within the area have been destroyed on Saturday by gunfire, in what regulation enforcement officers are calling a focused assault, the ensuing outages reduce energy to a broad area that included the drag present, which was going down on the time.

Native regulation enforcement later instructed reporters they haven’t but uncovered proof immediately tying the assault to the drag present, however Rainey declared on Fb that night that “the ability is out in Moore County and I do know why.” Rainey, who was investigated by the Army after she introduced a bunch to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021, to take part within the rally that preceded the Capitol riot, additionally posted a picture of the theater the place the drag present was going down alongside the caption “God is not going to be mocked.”

Requested in regards to the posts throughout a information convention, Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields mentioned officers visited the house of a “younger woman” who had “put some data on Fb.” However after assembly with the lady and having “a phrase of prayer along with her,” he mentioned, they decided her posts have been false.

In one other submit on social media, Rainey mentioned officers visited her dwelling and she or he used the chance to “inform them in regards to the immoral drag present and the blasphemies screamed by its supporters.”

“God works in mysterious methods,” the submit learn.

Whereas full particulars of the Moore County assault — which has left 30,000 folks with out energy and is now additionally being investigated by the FBI — have but to emerge, the incidents add to a rising listing of right-wing teams invoking Christianity whereas focusing on LGBTQ folks and non secular minorities.

Within the lead-up to the riot on the U.S. Capitol, a number of right-wing extremist teams started interesting to religion and invoking types of Christian nationalism. The pattern has persevered within the aftermath of the assault, with extremists often tying forms of Christian nationalism to their rhetoric.

A few of the teams have much less apparent ties to religion. In June, a number of members of the group Patriot Entrance have been arrested in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, as they have been en path to protest an LGBTQ Pleasure occasion. A minimum of two of these arrested had ties to a church led by a virulent Christian nationalist who distributed a doc that outlined a hypothetical holy battle and known as for murdering all non-Christian males “if they don’t yield.”

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