ACT! for America
ACT! for America is an American conservative political group founded in 2007 to "promot[e] national security and defeat terrorism". It has been described as "a central player" and a "force multiplier" in promoting state laws banning Sharia (Islamic law) in the United States. It describes itself as a "non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots organization" with "nearly 300,000 members and 890 chapters". It is loosely associated with the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters.
The group was founded by Lebanese-born Brigitte Gabriel who is also a frequent speaker at conservative events. Guy Rodgers, a Republican consultant who helped build the Christian Coalition, is executive director.
ACT! members have introduced David Yerushalmi's anti-foreign law bill (also known as anti-Shariah bill) in several state legislatures, accompanying it with "a public outreach blitz about the `threat` of Sharia to America." While the group describes itself as a nonpartisan and nonreligious national security group, Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times states that it "draws on three rather religious and partisan streams in American politics: evangelical Christian conservatives, hard-line defenders of Israel (both Jews and Christians) and Tea Party Republicans". Its website lists as "Our issues": "Confronting Terrorism", "Preserving the Constitution", "Securing the Border", "Energy Independence", and "Empowering Women - Protect Children", and "Support for Israel". ACT! aims to educate public and elected officials at the state and national level "to impact national security policy." These officials include Republican U.S. Representative Peter T. King (NY), who appeared on ACT!'s "internet television show before hosting a series of hearings on radicalization that singled out Muslims in 2011".
Critics have called the group "anti-Muslim" and described it as having "eagerly tapped into a groundswell of anti-Muslim rage and done what it could to fan the flames." Its members have been criticised for statements such as calling the inclusion of Muslim holidays on calendars a “stealth jihad” by Islamist extremists, or accusing President Obama of “praying just like Osama bin Laden prayed” when he grew up in Indonesia.
ACT! insists it is anti-radical Islam and not anti-Islam per se. In July 2011 ACT! sent an email to numerous addresses stating:
`FACT: ACT! for America does not believe, nor advocate, that all Muslims are engaged in stealth jihad. ACT! for America does not believe, nor advocate, that all Muslims “must be stopped.”`
The Southern Poverty Law Center has called this a "whitewash" and in reply quoted statements from founder Brigitte Gabriel:
“If a Muslim who has — who is — a practicing Muslim who believes the word of the Koran to be the word of Allah, who abides by Islam, who goes to mosque and prays every Friday, who prays five times a day — this practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.”
- Lean, Nathan (12 August 2015). "Hirsi Ali Teams Up With Act for America for Event on Islam". Huffington Post. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
- Elliott, Andrea (July 30, 2011). "The Man Behind the Anti-Shariah Movement". The New York Times. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
- "act for america (homepage)". Retrieved 28 August 2015.
- GOODSTEIN, LAURIE l (March 7, 2011). "Drawing U.S. Crowds With Anti-Islam Message". New York Times. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
- "act for america. get the facts. our issues". Retrieved 28 August 2015.
- "What We Do". ACT! for America. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
- Blue, Miranda (9 April 2015). "ACT For America Representative Warns Of 'Stealth Jihad' In Calendars, Foreign Language Classes". Right Wing Watch. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
- Lenz, Ryan. "Acting Out". The Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
- Blue, Miranda (10 February 2015). "Brigitte Gabriel: Obama Grew Up 'Praying Just Like Osama Bin Laden Prayed'". Right Wing Watch. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
- "Sent by ACT for America Sent: 7/11/2011 2:48 PM Newspaper's smear of ACT! for America laced with lies, fabrications, and distortions.". slant right. Retrieved 28 August 2015.