DETROIT – U.S. and state representatives called on a Bloomfield, Michigan, church – whose pastor has called himself an Islamophobe – to cancel an anti-Muslim event planned around this week’s 9/11 anniversary.
Bloomfield Hills Baptist Church will host a two-day event called “9/11 forgotten? Is Michigan surrendering to Islam?” on Sept. 11-12.
The Free Press was unable to reach Bloomfield Hills Baptist by email or phone. The church’s pastor, Donald McKay, told Fox 2 last week that “Islam is a growing threat in the United States of America,” and that although he doesn’t speak for his church, “we don’t hate Muslims, we hate the ideology they are identified with.”
“I am an Islamophobe, I wear that badge proudly,” McKay told Fox 2.
The church’s event includes a Sept. 11 talk titled “How the interfaith movement is sabotaging America and the church” and an address the following day called “How Islam is destroying America from within.”
According to speaker Shahram Hadian’s website, his Sept. 11 discussion will “expose the growing deception of interfaith dialogue” and “explain how interfaith ‘dialogue’ is compromising the Gospel & our national security.”
Though Fox 2 reported that the Metropolitan Detroit Freedom Coalition organized the event at the church, the coalition told the Free Press it was not involved in the event planning.
The organization supports the discussion but said it was planned by a group called the Detroit Coalition for Freedom. The Free Press could not find contacts for or information about the Detroit Coalition for Freedom online. islamophobic event flyer.pdf
News of the event drew condemnation from Michigan politicians and organizations.
Dawud Walid, executive director of Michigan’s Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) chapter, said the anti-Islam rhetoric the church promotes is “troubling,” especially in light of the frequency of hate crimes against Muslims.
“Though we believe that houses of worship have the right to preach their doctrine, we find it incredibly irresponsible for a church to invite someone who has the objective of spewing clear anti-Muslim bigotry,” Walid told the Free Press.
In a joint statement on the issue, U.S. Democratic Reps. Andy Levin and Debbie Dingell said 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,” Levin and Dingell 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 event is “an attempt to assign blame for 9/11 to the entire Muslim community,” said state Reps. Abdullah Hammoud, D-Dearborn, and Mari Manoogian, D-Birmingham, in a joint statement.
“Our communities should be outraged by these scheduled toxic and bigoted events,” Hammoud and Manoogian said in the statement. “With the rise of mass shootings by white domestic terrorists targeting those they deem ‘other’ we are deeply disturbed that a place of worship would host an event that continues to fan the flames of hate and intolerance. Religious institutions should strive to be welcoming centers for all. We strongly encourage Bloomfield Hills Baptist Church to reconsider hosting these events and instead seek opportunities to foster a positive dialogue within the community.”
McKay told Fox 2 on Thursday that he planned on hosting the event, despite criticism.