USAID’s New ‘Religious Freedom Advisor’ Spent Years Bashing Islam

Lynchburg Tea Party/YouTube
|
May 28, 2020 1:14 p.m.

In May of 2015, a man who this week became a “religious freedom advisor” in the Trump administration shared an article celebrating the oppression of Muslims in China.

It was one of many posts published by Mark Kevin Lloyd — a Tea Party activist, political consultant and new Trump administration official — warning of the dangers of Islam. Over the years, Lloyd has called the world’s second-largest religion a “barbaric cult,” described it as “violent,” and said then-President Barack Obama was sympathetic to “extremist Muslim convictions.”

Now, Lloyd will become an adviser in the U.S. Agency for International Development, reportedly picked personally by its acting head.

Lloyd’s tweet about China — “China Makes Major Moves To Ban Islam” — linked an article by the same name on the YouTube host Steven Crowder’s website. The post cheered the crackdown on ethnic Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang region.

“Apparently, China realizes what the West doesn’t. – Bet you never thought you’d read that here – Namely, that Islam is very dangerous,” the article read. “It’s kind of ironic that the oppressive nation sees what free nations don’t: Islam will turn nasty. It always does. Everywhere the religion/political ideology have been given an inch, they’ve taken a mile. Like a rabid dog, once it gets strong enough, it will bite us.”

At the time, observers across the globe were beginning to ring alarm bells about the situation in China. Now, of course, the crackdown Lloyd and Crowder celebrated in Xinjiang has become a global tragedy, as the truth about the concentration camps holding Uighurs and other minorities emerges. This month, the Uighur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 passed by unanimous consent in the Senate and by a 413-1 vote in the House. (The President on Wednesday said he was “taking a look at it very strongly.”)

The Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin broke the news Wednesday of Lloyd’s appointment as “religious freedom advisor” to USAID. Rogin reported USAID’s new acting administrator John Barsa — who himself was installed in that job just last month — had personally chosen Lloyd for the role.

Rogin’s column, as well as a 2016 Associated Press report, included a sampling of Lloyd’s Islamophobic comments.

In June 2016, for example, he called Islam a “barbaric cult.” The same month, after Omar Mateen carried out a shooting massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Lloyd boosted a meme saying gun purchasers should be forced to eat bacon. In 2013, he said he “tends to believe” that then-President Barack Obama was “in bed” with the Muslim Brotherhood. Another of his posts said people who believed Islam was a peaceful religion should “understand the real history of the religion.”

Lloyd’s tweet promoting Crowder’s bigoted article was screenshotted and published in 2018 by the Democratic strategist Lowell Feld, on his blog Blue Virginia. It’s one in a trove of  social media posts showing a bias against Islam that might make Lloyd’s new job an uncomfortable fit. (Feld consulted for Sen. Tim Kaine’s (D-VA) successful reelection campaign that year; Lloyd was working on the campaign of a Republican vying for Kaine’s seat.)

Other outlets in 2018 reported on Lloyd’s habit of calling prominent women “bitches” on Facebook, including San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, and Hillary Clinton. Lloyd separately called Kim Kardashian “a no talent plastic slut with a well rounded butt.”

Lloyd declined to comment to the Richmond Times-Dispatch about his misogynistic posts but told Big League Politics, “I might not should have said it.”

Neither USAID nor Lloyd returned TPM’s requests for comment. An unnamed spokesperson for USAID told the Post, referring to Lloyd’s “barbaric cult” post, that “the comments he made four years ago were in reference to radical Islam, not Islam.”

But Feld’s archive, as well as other reporting, show just how outspoken Lloyd was about Islam.

In September 2015, for example, Lloyd linked to coverage of a speech in which Obama said “violent extremism is not unique to any one faith.”

“If you tell a lie often enough the idiots will believe it,” Lloyd commented, according to Feld’s screenshots. “ISLAM is violent in it’s [sic] doctrine and practice.”

A month later, TakePart magazine quoted Lloyd as part of an article on the history of the Tea Party.

In the profile, Lloyd asserted the United States had accepted so many Muslim refugees that, at the Mall of America, “if you are not a Muslim… it’s dangerous for you.” He also told the magazine that “the bad guys” in Iraq had celebrated Obama’s election, and that Obama had turned out to be sympathetic to “the extremist Muslim convictions.”

In February that year, according to Feld’s archive, Lloyd wrote that “people who keep calling people ‘RACISTS’ for having problems with Islam are MORONS.”

In May, Lloyd shared a link to an article that asserted Obama was “way chummier with Mohammed than Jesus.” The article, from the pundit Doug Giles, posited that “if Achmed had it his way, because of your penchants, beliefs or lack thereof, you’d be subjugated or slaughtered.”

Feld’s cache of screenshots goes back years and includes a missive from Lloyd in 2010, when he was serving as chairman of the Lynchburg Tea Party.

“Tonight I went to a presentation about Islam in USA,” he wrote. “Facts are frightening, and everyone should be aware of what is going on around us.”

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