Explainer: The complexity of the alleged hate groups in Richmond NH

(Photo: Alex Thenin)

Two out of the six hate groups in NH are thirty minutes away from campus in Richmond, but it’s not as clear cut as it seems.

In 2016 the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a civil rights organization that seeks to combat hate and bigotry labeled the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary(SIHM) a hate group and the monastery immediately contested the claim.

The SPLC accused SIHM of being “Anti-Semitic, angry opposition to homosexuality and desire to convert people to their hard line views.” The SPLC defines a hate group as an organization that holds “beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people typically for their immutable characteristics.”

The label of hate given to SIHM strained relations with the town of Richmond. The book “Deliver Us… A religious cult Versus Richmond, New Hampshire” by A. I. Metayer is an opinion of certain towns people of Richmond New Hampshire. Certain Members of the town have complained communicated there concerns to the SPLC.

(Photo:Alex Thenin)

According to Thomas Bebbington, Director of communications of the Diocese of Manchester, “the organizations are not recognized by the Roman Catholic Church as a religious group”.

The SIHM rejects the label of hate and accuses the SPLC of being biased, motivated by money and of being inaccurate in their categorization.

Both organizations were contacted for comment but only SIHM responded. Brother Andre the prior of SIHM was interviewed at the St Benedict Center.

The SIHM has been labeled homophobic after a gay couple was denied entry. Jason McCann, a former member, was not allowed to see his nephew’s communion and received harassing emails from members of SIHM afterwards.

Brother Andre does not deny the fact that the couple was denied entrance, but said it was McCann’s family that did not want him to come.  Brother Andre did state that they would have let McCann come for confession but he rejected the offer. Brother Andre also stated that if any harassing messages were sent they came from his family members.

(Photo:Alex Thenin)

Brother Andre said he would welcome anyone from the LGBTQ+ community if they were seeking help and were converting. However, the SIHM sees any acts of homosexuality as “objectively immoral.”

Father Leonard Feeney was the founder of SIHM. He is considered an anti-Semite by the SPLC. Father Feeney ran a newsletter from 1952 to 1959 titled “The Point”. A number of articles in The Point are considered anti-Semitic including: “The Jewish invasion of our country– Our culture under Siege“, “The Judaising of Christians by Jews– Tactics of the Church’s Leading Enemies” and “A sure defense Against the Jews.” There are dozens more like them.

Brother Andre wrote, “In the 1950’s, the community for a time focused on calling out certain influential people and organizations who were anti-Christian and working against the Church in the social life of the nation. Since that time, our focus has been more on evangelizing all people with the Catholic truth that can save their souls, something we had never actually ceased to do.”

(Photo:Alex Thenin)

There is a quote by Brother Andre that is found in many SPLC articles, who use it to claim that he is Anti-Semitic: “If anti Semitism means opposing Jews on religious matters. Opposing Zionists state in Palestine or opposing the Jewish tendency to undermine public morality, then we could rightly be considered as such.”

Brother Andre claims that he was being a “Smart-Aleck” when he said that. He contends that what the quote means is that in religious matters, both religions are different. When talking about the Zionists he was talking about how Israel was mistreating Palestinians in areas such as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and stated that opposing Israel’s actions should not automatically be condemned as anti-Semetic since several synagogues have also criticized Israel.

Barsaw, or Brother Anthony, is a lower ranking member of the church. In 2004 he was quoted by the Boston Globe denying the Holocaust, stating, “There’s a misperception that Hitler had a position to kill all the Jews. It’s all a fraud six million people… It didn’t occur.” Then in 2005 he held a panel in Notre Dame called “the Fruits of the Zionists” where, according to the SPCL and NewHampshire.com, he called Jews the perpetual enemies of Christ. He also admitted to a “great hatred of Jews” saying “Jews are the synagogue of Satan” and that should they should be dealt with “blood and terror if required.”

(Photo:Alex Thenin)

Barsaw also runs the second alleged hate group in NH, IHM Media, which sells Catholic themed items. According to Brother Andre he either works alone or with very few people. This organization has no direct affiliation to SIHM other than the fact that a member runs the organization.

Brother Andre said that he had talked to Barsaw, Who claimed the Boston Globe had misrepresented him and possibly made up some information.  According to Brother Andre, SIHM is not responsible for Barsaw’s actions, that his opinions do not represent the SIHM’s opinions and that SIHM does not deny the holocaust but rather think that Hitler was a “Deplorable human being”.

The SPLC has a track record of successfully combating hate groups like the KKK and various Neo-Nazi groups.  They have been giving resources to schools to help stop racial bias since the 1990’s.

Brother Andre said that the SPLC has a clear leftist bias, “They are not dispassionate observers” and that they should be “disqualified due to their opinions.” He also said that the main motivation behind the SPLC’s actions was profit. He also mentioned that small groups, like families, would be considered hate groups. Barsaw for example mainly works alone for IHM Media.

The SPLC has been criticized by New York Times writer Ayaan Ali and Politico for favoring leftist organizations and mislabeling right wing groups as hateful.

There is also the case of Ben Carson, the current US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development who, as Politico pointed out, was put on the SPLC’s list of extremists for opposing same sex marriage. However, he was taken off the list in 2014 and an apology was issued.

(Photo: Alex Thenin)


2 Responses to Explainer: The complexity of the alleged hate groups in Richmond NH

  1. Any students at Franklin Pierce are welcome to visit Saint Benedict Center to see for yourselves what our Catholic family atmosphere is like.

    Brother Andre Marie, M.I.C.M. October 21, 2017 at 7:18 pm Reply
  2. OMG! This Br. Andre character ought to work for the propaganda ministry of one of the remaining Communist governments in the world. He does mental gymnastics to put a positive spin on every ugly thing his groups does. His commentary on Fr. Feeney’s Jew-bashing is worthy of the old Pravda.

    Fr. Feeney’s hatred of Jews is beyond dispute. This article correctly points out that there is plenty of material written by Feeney himself, and it amply illustrates how much animosity the man directed towards the group. “Br.” Andre dismissively describes the unhinged writing of Fr. Feeney as “calling out” certain groups. Andre cannot bring himself to condemn the hatred of his group’s founder.

    Finally, on a more personal level, I have visited the St. Benedict Center, and I’ve even gone on a sort of field trip with some of the women from there. I did meet one nice lady, but the other two rejected me. I wore trousers on the trip, while all the women from the SBC wore very, very long skirts. Also, when visiting historic churches, I was the only one not to wear a veil. These things earned me the spite of the St. Benedict Center piety police. I was subjected to nasty comments and icy looks from them for two days. The one very sweet lady was not enough to compensate for the nasty women.

    If you want to be judged negatively as soon as you meet up with these people, then by all means, go visit this place.

    EMB December 5, 2017 at 4:41 am Reply

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