During the last weekend in July, The Kolbe Academy, a Catholic homeschool program located in Napa, California will host a conference in Sacramento where educators and home school instructors will gather to discuss how they can “engage the culture in a year of faith.”
Ordinarily, such a program would come and go unnoticed. But this year, featured amongst a lineup of distinguished speakers, is Robert Spencer, a controversial anti-Muslim blogger who civil rights organizations including the Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League label a “hate group leader.” This places him in close proximity to KKK leaders, the Black Panther Party, and neo-Nazi groups.
His scheduled appearance casts a negative light on what should be a positive event. It also raises questions about why a man whose writing was cited thirteen dozen times by the Norway terrorist Anders Breivik, who slaughtered 77 youth campers in Oslo in 2010, was ever invited to speak about youth education in the first place.
Spencer, a Catholic deacon from New Hampshire and director of the blacklist blog Jihad Watch, is set to appear as part of a speaking lineup that includes prominent clergy and educators from all across the United States. Once the director of Kolbe Academy, where he also served as a history and classics teacher, his publications include “Classical Education in the Contemporary World” and “How to Introduce Your Child to Classical Music in 52 Easy Lessons.”
If any religious group in the United States understands the harmful effects of prejudice, it is Catholics. Throughout the 1900s, they were on the receiving end of the same stereotypes and associations that Spencer aims at Muslims today.
The Santa Rosa Diocese, which governs the Kolbe Academy, should follow the actions of the Worcester Diocese in Massachusetts, which rescinded Spencer’s invitation to speak at a men’s conference in Massachusetts in March. The Sacramento Diocese, which governs St. Stephen The First Martyr Parish, the parish where the event will be held, should do the same.