Now We Know: Homeland Security Report on Religious Extremism Prescient


It was just a few weeks ago that the Religious Right was up-in-arms
over the report released by the Department of Homeland Security called
"Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling
Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment" [PDF] because it contained this footnote:

Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly
divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily
hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or
ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting
federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting
government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals
that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or
immigration.

Because of this passage, Religious Right leaders immediately began
decrying the report as not only "offensive to millions of Americans who
hold constitutionally-protected views opposing abortion" but also an outright attack on Jesus Christ:

[Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America] tells
OneNewsNow the report is a direct attack on the church. "[It's] a
direct assault on the basic principles of religious beliefs that have
been here since the time of Christ," she argues. "These are the things
that Christ died on the cross for."

Within days, groups like the American Center for Law and Justice and the Family Research Council were using the report in their fund-raising efforts:

Today, federal employees whose salaries we pay are
issuing reports from the Department of Homeland Security that say some
conservatives are a grave threat to America. Why? Because we oppose
abortion and the massive growth of the federal government. Do they no
longer see Al Qaeda or the Taliban as the greatest threat to Americans’
liberty? Apparently they are now targeting us. I remind DHS and all who
read this that we oppose all violence or lawbreaking. But speaking out
is an American right we will not give up!

Will you help Family Research Council (FRC) fight excessive government and defend your rights with a donation today? 

Soon calls began to emerge for an investigation into the drafting of the report, and that was quickly followed by the launching of an ad campaign supported by various right-wing groups demanding DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano’s resignation:

Among the groups sponsoring the ad were Operation Rescue, the
American Family Association, Faith2Action, Vision America, Americans
for Truth, Liberty Counsel, Traditional Values Coalition, and others. 

All of the caterwalling eventually lead DHS to pull the report … but in light of the details emerging about Scott Roeder, the man arrested in the killing of physician George Tiller,
it seems as if the report – far from being an offensive attack on
Christians and anti-choice activists – was remarkably timely and
accurate.

The real irony here is that the report itself focused almost
entirely on violent anti-government extremists and militia groups,
never mentioning anti-choice activists outside of this one isolated
footnote.

But it was that footnote that the Right seized upon, repeatedly and intentionally misrepresenting what is said in order to generate controversy over the report, culminating in this sort of fear mongering from the ACLJ … which is now blowing up in their face:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has labeled you, a member of the pro-life community, THE MOST DANGEROUS DOMESTIC TERRORIST.

This post first appeared on Right Wing Watch.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

To schedule an interview with contact director of communications Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.