Andre Barkanov

The news is disturbingly replete with stories of international terrorists filled with anti-religious hatred and fanatical bias—bias easily incited into mass violence. Of course, the propaganda that exists on the Internet all over the world today engenders a more frightening specter—disturbed individuals who lead seemingly normal lives suddenly committing inexplicable acts of violence.

Case in point: From July 21 to July 23, 2015, Andre Barkanov placed a series of phone calls via Skype to the Church of Scientology, spewing hateful death threats against Church staff and promising to assassinate the leader of the religion with “a bullet for his forehead.” The utterances of a terrorist brainwashed into violence.

Barkanov placed a series of phone calls via Skype to the Church of Scientology, spewing hateful death threats against Church staff and promising to assassinate the leader of the religion…

Barkanov was identified, arrested and extradited in December 2015. Police acting on a search warrant found him in possession of ammunition and gun paraphernalia in his home and subsequently charged him with 12 counts of criminal threats and one count of stalking. He told police he had been incited by anti-religious propaganda about Scientology.

According to police records, Barkanov told police he had “seen the HBO movie” directed by Gibney. When asked if he knew of anyone else involved in the Church or celebrities, Barkanov replied that he knew of the “King of Queens lady,” Leah Reminiwho had left the Church and been in the news.

Hatred incited against a religion many times leads to acts of violence. Andre Barkanov ended up arrested before he could engage in violence, but history shows that often this is not the case. The unassuming person next door, susceptible to false and misleading anti-religious rants placing a faith in a false light and encouraging violence, may morph into the next mass murderer in tomorrow’s headlines.

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