The Diocese of Sacramento has canceled the appearance of Robert Spencer, a controversial writer about the threat of Islam, at St. Stephen the First Martyr Parish — but Spencer is still scheduled to speak at the conference being put on by the Napa-based Kolbe Academy Home School.
The Northern California Catholic Family Home School Conference, taking place July 26 and July 27, has been moved to a new location, said Mary Rowles, director of the Kolbe Academy Home School program.
The conference will still take place in Sacramento but not on church property, Rowles said. She declined to provide more details.
“I’m not sure I’m ready to disclose the new location just yet,” Rowles wrote in an email to the Napa Valley Register.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch, a controversial blog that focuses on terrorism and violence committed by Muslims. He has also written several books, including “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)” and “Religion of Peace? Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t.”
On Tuesday, Spencer said he was “saddened” by the Bishop’s decision to rescind his invitation to St. Stephen’s, but he was pleased that Kolbe Academy had “not caved in” to the pressure to completely remove him from the conference.
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In the 1990s, Spencer served as the director of Kolbe Academy’s national home school program. He also taught history, literature and religion at the Napa school.
The Kolbe Academy Home School program is a separate legal entity, with separate management, from Kolbe Academy & Trinity Prep — the pre-K-12 school located off Redwood Road.
Spencer plans to speak about classical and Ignatian education at the upcoming conference.
St. Stephen’s is a parish within the Diocese of Sacramento and is subject to Bishop Jaime Soto.
Spencer’s writings about Islam — particularly on his blog — have stirred up controversy around the globe. Jihad Watch was recently cited by the British government as a reason not to allow Spencer into the United Kingdom. A letter from the U.K.’s Home Office stated that Jihad Watch has been “widely criticized for being Islamaphobic” and that Spencer also co-founded the groups Freedom Defense Initiative and Stop Islamization of America, which have both been described as “anti-Muslim hate groups.”
In his defense, Spencer told the Register that there is “nothing hateful or false” about his work.
“My work is dedicated to defending the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people before the law,” Spencer wrote. “My work is factual and I stand ready to defend any assertion I've made in 12 books, hundreds of articles, and thousands of blog posts.”