GOP candidate who said diversity is destroying America cozies up to Islamophobic group


North Carolina candidate for governor Lt. Gov. Dan Forest will headline a Thursday event with anti-Muslim extremists despite protests from a national civil rights group.

North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, a leading GOP candidate for governor, is set to share a stage on Thursday with anti-Muslim extremists.

Forest is scheduled to speak at an American Renewal Project event in Charlotte on Oct. 3, alongside speakers with radical, Islamophobic views, according to NC Policy Watch. Other speakers include author William Federer, who claimed Muslims are would-be conquerors and rapists, and Rob McCoy, a pastor who said anyone not committed to making the United States an explicitly Judeo-Christian nation should leave the country.

The American Renewal Project is a far-right group that works to mobilize evangelical Christians to support Trump and help conservative Republicans win elections. The group's leader, David Lane, has called the separation of church and state a "fabricated whopper" and called American Renewal Project an effort to "engage the church in a culture war for religious liberty, to restore America to our Judeo-Christian heritage and to re-establish a Christian culture". In 2016, the group spent $9 million in six battleground states to help Trump, according to Right Wing Watch.

The Charlotte event is billed as an opportunity for pastors, church leaders, and their families to "understand the times in which we live."

The nation's largest Muslim civil rights organization requested Forest withdraw from the event.

"By sharing the stage with anti-Muslim speakers, the lieutenant governor would legitimize the bigoted views espoused by the speakers and delegitimize the Republican Party's claim of supporting religious freedom for all," Robert McCaw, government affairs director for the Center on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in a Sept. 25 statement. "Lieutenant Governor Forest should immediately withdraw from this event and reaffirm his commitment to representing all North Carolinians regardless of faith or background."

The Forest campaign did not return a request for comment.

Forest has a troubling history with diversity, based on his previous campaign events and who he hired to run his campaign.

At his August campaign kick-off event, Forest honored Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), a member of Congress who joined white nationalist Rep. Steve King (R-IA) in opposing the Voting Rights Act.

Forest hired Hal Weatherman to run his campaign, even though Weatherman previously worked for an anti-Muslim hate group.

Weatherman previously worked for Act! for America as its communications director. The group "is listed as an anti-Muslim hate group because it pushes wild anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, denigrates American Muslims and deliberately conflates mainstream and radical Islam," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The founder of the group claimed in 2007 that any practicing Muslim "cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America."

Four years later, Weatherman joined the group to lead their communications efforts.

Forest himself has railed against a multi-ethnic America as recently as June, claiming the "diversity and multiculturalism that America faces today" may cause the destruction of the country.

Thus far, Forest has refused to heed the calls of those asking him to not share the stage with those pushing a divisive, bigoted agenda.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.