A far-right think tank pushed model bills on sharia law and terrorism in dozens of states. Civil rights groups say the goal was to stoke fear.
Updated 2:20 p.m. CDT July 21, 2019
A lawmaker in Idaho introduces legislation to prevent traditional Islamic law from infiltrating U.S. courts.
In Florida, a legislator proposes striking at the foundations of terrorism with a bill bolstering victims’ ability to sue its supporters.
The lawmakers’ efforts are seemingly unrelated, their statehouses almost 2,000 miles apart.
But both get their ideas, and the actual text of their bills, from the same representative of the same right-wing think tank.
And when they introduce the bills, the same activist group dispatches supporters to press for passage.
Eric Redman of Idaho and Mike Hill of Florida are among dozens of legislators who have sponsored copycat bills written and pushed by a network of far-right think tanks and activists.
The legislation was developed by the Center for Security Policy, which was founded by Frank Gaffney, a Reagan-era acting Assistant Secretary of Defense, who pushes conspiracy theories alleging radical Muslims have infiltrated the government. Once the copycat bills are introduced, local chapters of the Washington, D.C.-based ACT for America, which describes itself as the “NRA of national security,” encourage their supporters to show up at legislative hearings and flood lawmakers’ inboxes and phone lines in support of the bills. ACT’s founder, Brigitte Gabriel, has claimed that up to a quarter of all Muslims support the destruction of Western civilization.