CHARLOTTE, Mich. — Christ the King Reformed Church in Charlotte was identified as a white nationalist group in an annual report released Monday by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Pastor Bret McAtee declined to comment on the report.
In a blog post from July, McAtee wrote that, when comparing races, the white race is "without dispute superior.” He went on to describe early indigenous groups as "cannibals" and African people brought over during the Atlantic slave trade as "savage."
Christ the King Reformed Church is one of the 838 hate groups active in the US in 2020 and one of 25 in Michigan, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
According to the report, the number of hate groups in the US decreased from the 940 documented in 2019.
Margaret Huang, the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said COVID-19 is likely the reason.
The decline might also reflect the virtual shift that occurred when the pandemic hit.
“A lot of that activity that was taking place in public contexts moved to the internet where people could organize in darker corners that were being less surveilled,” said Stephanie L. Hartzell, a professor at California State University - Long Beach whose research focuses on white nationalism and the alt-right.
The Southern Poverty Law Center found that, in the previous two years, hate groups had seen noticeable growth after being emboldened by the Trump campaign.
Hartzell pointed to Donald Trump’s political stances as a potential motivator.
“Trump ran on a platform that expressed support for some of the underlying beliefs, values, and desires of groups that would fall under the umbrella of white nationalism,” she said.
Some who study these groups say that, even with a new administration, their hateful ideology is here to stay.
"I think we all understand that the threat has not gone away simply because President Trump left office,” said Huang. “If anything, the threat is just as great and particularly, the repeated rhetoric around the necessity to use violence in service of these goals of the extremist groups is still very alarming."
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