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Anti-Islamophobia Protestors Rally Against Hate Group's Meeting

Anti-Islamophobia protestors gathered outside of a far Northwest Side church Thursday night to picket against an event held by ACT for America – an organization they consider a hate group. ACT For America had invited an author writing about the creation of mosques in the United States to speak.

About 40 protestors lined Culebra Road outside of Village Parkway Baptist Church.

They chanted and held signs that said “Hate is not an opinion” and “Islam is not the enemy.”

“We don’t have anything against this church, what we’re protesting is the meeting of ACT for America going on inside,” says Judith Norman, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace.

ACT for America is a group that calls itself the NRA of national security and lists its mission as "to help protect and preserve American culture and to keep this nation safe.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center lists ACT as a hate group.  ACT invited Karen Lugo, the author of Mosques in America to speak at the San Antonio church.  Lugo says her speech- closed to media - would be about constitutional issues.

“Mostly having to do with free speech, the interest in freedom of religion in this country, and much about the both of those constitutional traditions in our country.” Lugo says she is not anti-Islam.

Village Parkway Baptist Church Pastor Steve Branson says he wouldn’t let ACT hold its events here if he thought it promoted hate speech.

“There’s not hate here that would be allowed. Every topic I’ve ever heard here has to do with national security. It will deal with radical Islam sometimes, it will deal with some other things sometimes.”

Sarwat Husain of the San Antonio Chapter of the Council of American-Islamic relations disagrees.

“Tell the pastor to come out and talk to us. He should see with his own eyes what is happening to the Muslim community.”

Husain compared ACT to religious extremists.

“If they are Christians they should not follow it. Otherwise there is no difference between them and other extremists from any other faith including Muslims.”

The protest ended peacefully.  An organizing member for the San Antonio chapter of ACT declined to talk about the event.

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules