Discount mulberry for target Outlet Muslim pastor stokes fear and controversy in Idaho
His father was an army officer and his mother a school teacher. ahead of the Iranian Revolution, when the shah was exiled and replaced by the Shia cleric Ayatollah Khomeini.
After a few years the family moved to Canada, where Hadian spent the rest of his childhood. and became a citizen.
Hadian said when he converted to Christianity, he faced persecution and disapproval from his family and culture. But he pressed on and graduated from Puget Sound Christian College with a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies and Christian ministry.
He was married in 2001, and he and his wife Michelle have three sons that they home school. For the past10 years he has been a pastor and heads the Truth in Love Christian Fellowship, launched in Everett in January 2013 as a “free church” that is not incorporated as a charitable organization.
Last fall Hadian moved his family to Chattaroy, saying God had called on him to relocate to Eastern Washington. He holds Sunday night services at the La Belle Vie event center in Greenacres.
“We believe that it is critical to prepare for the difficult days ahead, and equip believers to stand strong through increased persecution,” Hadian said in a blog entry.
After listening to Shahram Hadian speak for over an hour about Islam as a rising menace in America, Alton Howell stepped outside the log built community hall in Sandpoint and quickly called a colleague.
“It scared the living daylights out of me,” the Careywood farmer spoke into his phone.
Howell, a leader in the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, said in an interview that he worries young people are being “indoctrinated” to Islam and that followers already have a foothold in parts of the Northwest.
“I think that we better pay attention,” he said. “The city of Seattle, that part of Washington, is just shotgun full of Muslims.”
If alarm and fear are the reactions Hadian strives to produce in his audiences, the Spokane area Christian pastor is having some success. And not just with community groups like last month’s Sandpoint meeting hosted by a group of Republican women.
Hadian, a former Muslim who converted to Christianity, also outlined his anti Islam views for a group of conservative legislators in Boise earlier this year, taking the opportunity to voice his concerns about a Senate bill to keep Idaho in compliance with the federal child support program. A House committee tabled that legislation in the waning hours of the legislative session, thrusting the state into national headlines and leading the governor to call lawmakers back into session Monday to deflect a looming crisis in child support payments. Hadian downplayed any influence he had on that debate.
It wasn’t the first time he was invited to school elected officials on what he calls “the fallacy of a peaceful Islam.”
In March 2011 Hadian was the featured speaker at the GOP’s Lincoln Day Dinner and fundraiser at the Coeur d’Alene Resort. In the audience that night were Gov. Sen. Rep. Raul Labrador and Norm Semanko, the state Republican chairman.
Luke Malek was there as well and recalls how troubled he and others were by Hadian’s controversial remarks.
“I was extremely uncomfortable that evening,” said Malek, a Republican state representative from Coeur d’Alene and director of legal affairs and program development at Heritage Health, a nonprofit community health clinic.
He worries how Hadian’s uncompromising characterizations of Islam resonate in North Idaho.
“We don’t have good exposure to this minority religion here, so anything that he says, he’s taken as an expert by those who don’t know any other source,” Malek said. as a young boy, warns audiences that Islam is not just a religion but a totalitarian system governing people’s lives. Americans must not let political correctness and tolerance keep them sidelined while Islam destroys their way of life, he said.
“The hour is too critical for us to be silent,” he said to vigorous applause in Sandpoint.
He cited passages from the Quran as words of warning, and encouraged people to buy DVDs of his speeches $15 apiece with such titles as “Is Obama a Muslim?” and “Islam A Culture of Death.”
But he prefaced his talk by assuring the crowd, “I am not anti Muslim. I have family that are still Muslims. I have a great heart for Muslims because they are in darkness, they need to be rescued out of the darkness.”
Arsalan Bukhari, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations in Seattle, said Hadian is adept at passionate lectures that advance fringe ideas and falsehoods, not unlike those who preach anti Semitism.
“If he were to say he’s against African American culture but he likes African American people, people would see right through it,” Bukhari said. “And I think they should see right through when he says he’s anti Islam but he’s not anti Muslim.”
He also said Hadian engages in the sort of inflammatory speech that leads to kids being bullied in schools, adults being taunted at work, vandalism of property and hate crimes.
“It is affecting public opinion, it is mobilizing people to see their fellow Americans who are Muslims or look Muslim as somehow a threat,” Bukhari said.
In Sandpoint, more than 100 people packed into the community hall to listen to Hadian. Afterward, Bob Browning walked outside and said it’s time to take action. “We need to prepare as a country and as a community,” Browning said.