June 5, 2019

VH1: Leah Remini Adds Nothing but Poison to Viewing Minds

What was almost unheard of before now has become, tragically, all too commonplace. Violence and even murder now occur inside the very buildings that society should be committed to maintaining as protected peaceful sanctuaries for people of all faiths.

June 5, 2019

Chris McCarthy
President VH1
New York, NY

Mr. McCarthy:

In a climate when deranged gunmen slaughter innocent people in houses of worship simply because of their religion, I ask you to show caution to prevent that possibility by cancelling the airing of Leah Remini’s award acceptance at the Critics’ Choice Awards.

What was almost unheard of before now has become, tragically, all too commonplace.

At a recent FBI workshop on attacks on churches, synagogues, mosques and temples, I and other representatives of a broad spectrum of religious communities shared our concern at the link between the alarming rise in hate speech aimed at religious groups and recent bloodshed that has occurred. The workshop leader confirmed that most acts of violence are preceded by hate speech.

What was almost unheard of before now has become, tragically, all too commonplace. Violence and even murder now occur inside the very buildings that society should be committed to maintaining as protected peaceful sanctuaries for people of all faiths.

Some examples:

  • On October 27, 2018, a gunman entered Tree of Life Congregation synagogue in Pittsburgh and opened fire, killing 11 and wounding six, including four police officers. This was the worst such killing in any Jewish community in American history. He said he was incited by hate speech on social media.
  • On November 5, 2017, dressed in black tactical-style gear and armed with an assault weapon, 21-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley opened fire at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 people and wounding 20 others. This was the deadliest mass shooting ever in an American house of worship and in the history of Texas.
  • On September 24, 2017, Emanuel Kidega Samson opened fire in the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee, killing one woman and wounding seven others.
  • On August 13, 2016, Imam Maulana Alauddin Akonjee, the leader of a New York City mosque, and his friend Thara Uddin were fatally shot in a daylight attack as they left Saturday afternoon prayers.
  • As for our own religion, a young Scientologist was brutally murdered outside a Church in Sydney, Australia, by an unstable teenager who was inspired by an anti-Scientology website that included prominent links to Remini’s show and her co-star’s website.
  • Similarly, according to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, five Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Halls suffered arson and rifle attacks through 2018 that coincided with the announcement and airing of Leah Remini’s decision to target that religion during a special episode of her Aftermath show.

This is just a sampling of tragedies. As I am sure you are aware, many more have taken place around the world.

We live in volatile times, where religious hate is all too common, spreading like wildfire through social media. Vile bigoted comments by individuals such as Leah Remini, a particular religion are to the point where we have become desensitized to the dangers that lurk.

We must all work diligently to insist on respecting the religious beliefs of others and accord one another the mutual respect and ensure the safety that allows us to pray and practice our faiths in peace. If we do not, our society is headed into a free fall.

I ask you, with the utmost sincerity and urgency, to cut the segment of Leah Remini’s Critics Choice award scheduled to air on VH1 this Sunday, June 9. Her presentation was hate speech, filled with venom. For several years she has stirred violence toward her former religion, inspiring more than 600 threats of violence and actual violence, including the tragic stabbing death of a young Scientologist in Australia.

To air her unrestrained vitriol is endangering the lives of members of her former religion that she now targets for harassment and abuse simply because of their beliefs.

Sincerely,

Edward Parkin
International Director

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