Recently, I learned of a group based in Bellingham that is classified by the Southern Policy Law Center as an anti-Muslim hate group. It’s name is the Fortress of Faith.
According to nonprofitfacts.com, the listed address for Fortress of Faith is 2501 Orleans St., Bellingham, WA. 98226. According to Superpages.com, that is the same street address for the Bellingham Baptist Church, which bills itself in that listing as, “The friendliest church in town.”
The Washington state Secretary of State shows that Fortress of Faith was registered as a corporation on 8/17/2011, and on 12/2/2013, it was listed as inactive. That does not necessarily mean the organization is defunct, just that its corporation registration has not been renewed with the Secretary of State.
The name Josh Carter is listed as a “Governing Person” on the corporation registration for Fortress of Faith. Also listed as a Governing Person is Tom Wallace. Josh Carter is the Pastor of Bellingham Baptist Church.
Wallace hosts a daily Fortress of Faith radio broadcast that, according to his LinkedIn page, is broadcast by 180 radio stations in The U.S. and Canada. Podcasts of his radio shows are available on iTunes. The Bellingham Baptist Church’s website states that Wallace’s “focus is on God’s coming judgment, namely Islam.”
I called Pastor Josh Carter earlier this week and had a phone conversation with him as I wanted to confirm if, in fact, Fortress of Faith was/is associated with Bellingham Baptist Church. I asked Pastor Carter if it is associated with his church. Before answering, he asked me who I am with, who I represent. I explained that I’m just an individual citizen who lives in Whatcom County, and I had heard about Fortress of Faith recently, looked it up on the internet, and found it appears to be associated with Bellingham Baptist church.
He then confirmed that to be true. Without me asking him anything further, he started to tell me about Fortress of Faith and Tom Wallace.
Pastor Carter explained that Fortress of Faith is headed up by Wallace who is with their church, and does evangelism with “Muslim people groups.” I asked him what he meant by Muslim people groups, and he said, “those who are involved in Islam.” Pastor Carter added, “We try to bring the word of God to those who are involved in Islam.” He said it’s not a matter of hatred or dislike, but that they just try to bring the word of God to Muslims, and them into Jesus Christ, and they do that through the Fortress of Faith. Pastor Carter said it’s “our job to tell everybody about Jesus Christ.” He said “we love them [Muslims].”
I asked him since they try to bring those beliefs to Muslims, does he and Fortress of Faith try to do that with other types of faith. He replied, “yes,” they do. He said “it boils down to whether we have a relationship with God,” through Jesus Christ. He told me that Muslims reject Jesus Christ and that they believe Muhammad was a prophet, and so his group tries to take the message of Jesus Christ to anyone, but that Tom Wallace, specifically, “feels called to try to reach out to Muslim people.”
Pastor Carter said they want to “sit down with people and open the word of God,” but added that when they try to do that, it’s labeled as hate, but claimed it’s not really hate. (I had not said anything about hate at this point)
I said one of the reasons for that perception could be, for example, on the Fortress of Faith website, there is a graphic displayed with two columns, showing a supposed similarity comparison of “Nazism” and “Islam.” There are 5 categories listed:
“Destruction of All Jews”;
“Death to Dissidents; and”
“Mission: World Domination.”
I told him that all of the boxes placed across from those 5 categories have check marks next to them, which appears to then convey that Islam equates with Nazism. I said that then I can understand why some people might consider that a possible form of hate speech.
Pastor Carter replied that he is familiar with that graphic, and then asked me, “Is that not what’s going on in the Middle East?”
I replied that contrary to what the graphic states, I have not heard that anyone is trying to destroy “all Jews,” and I haven’t heard that Muslims have a mission of “world domination.” His response was: “They’re killing Christians by the thousands in the Middle East,” and said that I can research that online. He said there are videos of them “shooting Christians in the head because they named the name of Christ.”
I told him that is like saying all Muslims are bad because of actions of ISIS, pointing out that it’s a generalization. He then said that he believes “Muslims are the victim of Islam.” He also made the point that he’s not against Muslims and he’s not saying all Muslims are wicked, horrible people —
I interrupted and said “but the graphic is saying” —
He interrupted to say that if I were to follow ideologies of Islam, that that is what they teach.
He then said that because I’m not Muslim, that then Muslims/Islamic people, refer to me as “Kafir [I’m not sure if I’m spelling it correctly],” which he said means “excrement.” I never stated that I was not Muslim when I called, so he simply assumed that — although, in fact, I am not Muslim.
He elaborated, saying they (Muslim people) view people who are not of Islam as “lower people.” Later, after we were finished with our phone call, I tried to look up the word “Kafir,” or something like that online, and it appears to mean someone who does not believe in the religion/or teachings of Islam. I found nothing online saying that Kafir means excrement.
Pastor Carter told me that Tom Wallace well documents what he presents. He offered that if I had questions about that he could put me in touch with him. I told him that’s okay because we just have differing views on that, so no need for me to get in touch with Wallace.
I explained that I had just wanted to confirm if the Fortress of Faith was associated with his church, and now I have that confirmation, so that was all I was asking. He reiterated that there is no hatred at all. I replied that while he may think that, that some people may view it as such. Pastor Carter replied to that, saying, “you’re not even open to looking at documentation so you can call it hatred if you want, but if I ask to sit down with you and look at documentation and you want to call it hate speech, I think that is hate, itself.” (While he said that I called what Fortress of Faith does is hatred, or hate speech, I did not actually say that to him).
Click any image in the graphic collage below to view an enlarged version and page through the other enlarged graphics.
Pastor Carter said he is willing to sit down with me, but since I’m not willing to accept that, then “that’s kind of rude.” I explained politely, that I’m not being rude at all, and asked him to please not call me rude I reminded him that I merely said we disagree, and that’s okay, and that I simply didn’t take him up on his invitation to meet with Tom Wallace to hear his research, as I preferred to research it myself, but that does not equate to me being rude in any way. Pastor Carter then backed down some and said, “Okay.”
Again, I reiterated that I had only wanted to confirm what I had seen online about Bellingham Baptist church’s association with Fortress of Faith, and said that I sensed he was getting kind of irritated at the end of our conversation — which, I said, didn’t feel was fair of him, especially coming from a pastor.
He said it’s not a matter of irritation as if we’re all supposed to sit down and talk (which I never said), and that’s
Pastor Carter said that “everybody on the other side of the issues — and the cry from Lebron James, from everyone, is that we need to sit down and talk,” but when it’s offered to sit down and talk about these issues, it’s always denied. He said he’s more than happy to do that with people, but it’s always, “No, we don’t want to do that – I’m closed to that.” He said he then has to ask the question, “who is really being close-minded?”
Pastor Carter again claimed it’s not about Muslims, but that it’s about Islam. He said, “Islam and the teachings of Islam is the problem,” and hd repeated his statement from earlier in our conversation that Muslims are the victim of Islam and that teaching. He claimed they love Muslims enough to say “Here’s another way, here’s another truth, and another teaching.”
Then Pastor Carter apologized if he came across as defensive, saying he finds it a little annoying when people call, and the mantra of the left (he added that he’s not sure where I come from politically and I did not respond to that), but “the mantra of those left-leaning, on the liberal side,” is that we’ve got to come together and talk, but, then when that is offered, it’s always denied. He says he’s never had anyone say, “yes, let’s look at these facts over coffee.”
I explained that unfortunately, he would not hear that from me because I’m somewhat of an anxious person, so I don’t like to have to meet to get together even with acquaintances and friends of mine because of that anxiety, resulting in me declining most invitations even from people who are friends of mine. I told him I will do some research on those things that he talked about relating to Islam, on my own.
While the Bellingham Baptist Church bills itself as, “The friendliest church in town,” in its Superpages.com listing, after learning about Fortress of Faith’s close association with that church, Bellingham Baptist may have to change it’s slogan displayed on Superpages to something like, “The friendliest church in town — as long as you are not a Muslim who practices Islam.”