Steve Klein, one of the men behind the anti-Muslim video tied to violent riots across the Middle East and North Africa, doesn't restrict his fervor to attacks on Islam: He also runs one of the most prominent anti-Mormon sites on the web.
An insurance agent and Christian activist from California, Klein has become the face of the movie, "Innocence of Muslims," promoting it in the press as the film's director is, reportedly, in hiding.
His most recent foray into religious provocation though, was hardly his first. In 1977, Klein founded a group called Courageous Christians United, whose main focus is to expose Mormonism and Islam — both "false religions" and "cults" according to Klein — with protests outside their places of worship, low-rent media productions like the now-viral Youtube video, and SEO-efficient web properties.
To accomplish this, the group runs MormonInfo.org, an expansive collection of anti-Mormon content whose benign URL belies the intensity of its mission. In addition to boilerplate criticism of the church's doctrines and policies, the site once managed to sneak an activist into a Mormon temple — which, after initial public tours, are only open to devout Latter-day Saints — and record one of the ceremonies. The site posted the video to YouTube under the headline, "Welcome to Mitt Romney's World," and described the ceremonial garb worn in the temple as that of a "gay Irish baker."
Romney has found himself this week defending Klein's right to produce inflammatory attacks on another religious minority, Islam, and has strongly criticized the Cairo Embassy for apologizing to outraged Muslims for the video.
Today, though, he expressed disapproval of the video's content.
"I think it’s dispiriting sometimes to see some of the awful things people say. And the idea of using something that some people consider sacred and then parading that out a negative way is simply inappropriate and wrong. And I wish people wouldn’t do it," Romney told ABC. "Of course, we have a First Amendment. And under the First Amendment, people are allowed to do what they feel they want to do."
Romney continued, "They have the right to do that, but it’s not right to do things that are of the nature of what was done by, apparently this film."
McKay Coppins is a senior writer for the BuzzFeed News politics team, and the author of The Wilderness, about the battle over the future of the Republican Party.
Contact McKay Coppins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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