MOLINE -- During a time of racial tension in the United States and around the world, a local Quad Cities pastor is using his unique past experiences to help educate the community on what it is that fuels people to join hate groups like the KKK and ISIS.
Pastor Larry Conway, of Trinity Lutheran Church in Moline, is a former Army chaplain who went on to get a degree from Princeton University in religion and conflict. On Tuesday, August 22, Conway spent the evening shinning light on the ideology that drives people to join groups of people who commit hate crimes or "hate groups". (Click Here for the FBI's definition of a hate crime")
"Its similar to why people join a gang," said Conway who then went on to explain that people join hate groups because of a psychological need for acceptance in a society where they feel alone.
"The challenge is to try and reach people before they become hardened ideologically." said Conway.
But, Conway said being able to reach those people is crucial to limiting the hate.
"The more we understand (the hate), the more we can respond to it, the better we can minimize this adoration as much as we can." he said.
Hate and Religion: What does the Gospel say?
While some might find it obvious why "hate groups" are not the "christian way", Pastor Conway acknowledges that some religious groups can be what ignites the passion of hate for some people.
"There are religious groups out there that are hateful, but don't throw the baby out with the bath water" said Conway. "We're not all haters!"
The pastor says the best way to think about Christianity and this ideology would be to refer to the bible itself.
"Jesus said to Love your neighbor as you love yourself. If you meet violence with violence it can spiral out of control. said Conway. It is kind of hard to hate someone that does not hate you back. Its kind of hard to hate someone if you hug them."
What can I tell my kids?
"Let your kids and your grandkids know that they are loved. Let them know that they matter and that they are part of a family. They will be much less likely to go down that dark path." said Conway. He says to never give up on somebody.
Do you agree with the pastor's point that joining a hate group, for some, could be similar to joining a gang?
What has been happening here in the Quad Cities in response to that hate?
August 16, 2017:
Hundreds turn out for "No Hate Rally" in Davenport
August 8, 2017: