Look Ahead America is a right-wing group organizing a September 18th rally next to the US Capitol Building in hope of freeing rioters arrested in conjunction with January 6th Capitol Riots. Look Ahead America believes that capitol rioters are “political prisoners.” The rally has drawn the attention of right wing hate groups and has raised alerts from the capitol police, sending DC into a heighted state of alert in anticipation of potential violence.
One of Look Ahead America’s Senior Staff, research director Ian Camacho, is also a writer and editor for the Center For The Study Of New Religions (CESNUR). CESNUR has been described as a defender of cults and the group works to combat anti-cult efforts worldwide. CESNUR and its leaders have repeatedly moved to defend and protect cults who committed acts of violence. For example:
- CESNUR Leadership ran a PR campaign in order to defend terror group and cult Aum Shinrikyo after they committed a deadly gas attack that wounded over 6,000 people and killed 13.
- CESNUR repeatedly defended The Church of The Almighty God, a Chinese cult that has been known to kidnap and hold captive people in an attempt to force them to join. When a member of the cult murdered a woman in 2014, CESNUR claimed it was part of a “fake news” campaign against the group.
- South Korean cult Shincheonji was the root of a major COVID-19 outbreak with the government demonstrating the cult withheld information, refused to enforce COVID safety measures, and obstructed contact tracing efforts. Despite the evidence, CESNUR called these charges “fiction,” claiming it was a form of religious persecution.
Camacho’s involvement in both CESNUR and Look Ahead America is especially concerning given the frequent comparisons between hard-core MAGA communities and cults. Notably a Japanese university professor explicitly compared the Trump supporters who stormed the capitol with Aum Shinrikyo, of whom CESNUR was a proud, public ally. These ties between the pro-cult and right wing extremists movements are cause for concern and alarm as MAGA marches on after Trump.