A GIOR investigation has revealed that US academic Peter Boghossian, a self-professed “radical atheist,” has been a business partner of a Christian nationalist extremist. Boghossian, currently in Hungary as a guest lecturer for a Hungarian government-supported organization, is a former Portland State University assistant professor unknown on the public scene until becoming part of the “New Atheist” movement with his December 2011 talk titled “Jesus, the Easter Bunny, and Other Delusions: Just Say No.” Since then, Boghossian became affiliated with Richard Dawkins, a British evolutionary biologist and author famous for his harsh criticisms of religion. In 2013, Boghossian published a book titled “A Manual for Creating Atheists” in which he advocated to “contain and eradicate” what he called the “faith virus,” labeled religious belief a psychiatric “delusion,” and advocated for the creation of an army of “street epistemologists” in order “to separate people from their faith.” In 2016, he created a mobile phone app called Atheos, designed to promote atheism.
By 2019, Christians, or at least a select group of conservative Christians, appear to have been cured of their faith virus and invited by Boghossian to join him in a new apocalyptic struggle. In line with his reinvention as a warrior against “The Woke,” Boghossian pictures the battleground of “Culture War 2.0” as a war of those accepting truth against those who “believe speech should be shut down if it’s hurtful or potentially harmful.” In an article titled “The Great Realignment,” he writes:
This is where it gets bizarre. Those people who accept the correspondence theory of truth (even though they may not know it by name) agree on the traditional rules of engagement (discourse, debate, dialogue) and do not view intersectionality as a necessary model for getting to the truth. Academicians in this group often adopt some variation of standpoint theory. These individuals are on one side of Culture War 2.0, and they include many liberal atheists and conservative Christians. Those on the other side of 2.0 do not subscribe to the correspondence theory of truth, believe speech should be shut down if it’s hurtful or potentially harmful, and think intersectional, transformative approaches are necessary to refashion systems. These people are also predominantly atheists and Christians: intersectional “woke” atheists and intersectional “woke” Christians.
He goes on to describe his newfound feeling of closeness to conservative Christians, despite their beliefs he earlier characterized as psychiatric delusions:
As a point of contact, I am a non-intersectional, liberal atheist. If a conservative Christian believes Jesus walked on water—and believes this either is or is not true for everyone regardless of race or gender—and if she values discourse and adheres to basic rules of engagement, then she is closer to my worldview than an atheist who believes race and gender play a role in determining objective truth and that her opponents should not be allowed to air what she considers harmful views.
Read the rest here
Beginning in 2019, Boghossian was on display with members of his new alliance for truth, participating in a series of interviews conducted by Sovereign Nations Founder Michael O’Fallon and including Boghossian’s collaborators in the so-called “Grievance Studies” or “Sokal Squared” hoax. (As part of the hoax, Boghossian and two colleagues submitted fake papers to various specialized academic journals to discredit gender and critical race studies.) According to a Sovereign Nations post:
In this first of three interviews conducted in New York City, Sovereign Nations Founder Michael O’Fallon and the co-founders of New Discourses, Dr. Peter Boghossian and Dr. James Lindsay, discuss the current tools of societal and institutional deconstruction being introduced throughout civilization under the banner of “Social Justice.” These, they discuss, are presented in a manner not unlike the legendary Trojan Horse.
Boghossian followed up the interviews by appearing with his colleagues at a December conference in London co-sponsored by Sovereign Nations and New Discourses and described as follows:
The declaration of ideological war was sounded from the center of London at the Sovereign Nations and New Discourses co-sponsored conference, Speaking Truth to Social Justice, held at the National Liberal Club’s Gladstone Library. At this event, Sovereign Nations Founder Michael O’Fallon joined Dr. James Lindsay, Dr. Peter Boghossian and Helen Pluckrose as they explored the current epistemological and societal challenges that accompany the current “woke” cultural revolution. In his presentation, O’Fallon explained that we are currently experiencing an epoch of time where mankind has purposely reverted to non-realities while rejecting objective truth. Mr. O’Fallon’s speech, After Light, Darkness, explored the sad reality that the pursuit of truth that exponentially increased after the reformation and enlightenment was quickly being extinguished.
According to an article in Religious News, Sovereign Nations was created to oppose “globalism” in general and the Open Society Foundations of philanthropist George Soros in particular, a frequent target of far-right conspiracy theories. The article also notes the Christian Nationalist themes espoused by Sovereign Nations on its website:
“As can be seen over the past 8 years, the goal of Open Society Foundations is to demean and destroy the tenets of traditional conservatism and thus create a crisis of conscience within the mind of the conservative,” it reads. “In order to succeed, we must rebuild the confidence in the presuppositions of conservatism in all of its exercised forms including in economics, civil liberties, family, sovereignty, theology, rule of law, and foreign affairs.” The reference to theology is key to much of O’Fallon’s recent work. His organization often mixes both religious and political world views, especially how the two play out within evangelical Protestantism. His ventures tend to have a Calvinist bent: Several speakers at Sovereign’s conferences are part of what’s known as the “Reformed” or “Reformed-Baptist” subset of evangelical Christianity. This group is heavily influenced by a conservative interpretation of the 16th-century French theologian John Calvin.
Read the rest here.
O’Fallon is also a believer in the “Great Reset,” a far-right conspiracy theory that the World Economic Forum is involved with a plot to destroy capitalism and enact a one-world government under the cover of COVID-19. A GIOR investigation revealed in August 2021 that Russia had launched a disinformation campaign spreading “the Great Reset” conspiracy theory in the West.
Another GIOR investigation indicates that Boghossian’s partnership with O’Fallon and Sovereign Nations goes beyond participating in interviews and conferences. In 2019, he was listed in Florida state records as a manager of New Discourses LLC, a company registered to O’Fallon and co-managed by James Lindsay, a colleague of Boghossian’s identified above as part of the “Grievance Studies” hoax and the founder of New Discourses. New Discourses is sponsored by O’Fallon and was created by Lindsay to oppose Critical Race Theory (CRT),” an academic concept about racial justice that has become a hot-button issue in US conservative circles and has been employed as a divisive tool by Russian influence operations. Lindsay, a former massage therapist with a Ph.D. in Math, is a conspiracy theorist recently banned from Twitter for life in connection with his frequent accusation of “Ok Groomer,” a reference to rightwing accusations about LGBTQ teachers. In late October, US media reported that the suspect accused of attacking the husband of US Congressional leader Nancy Pelosi had posted links to videos created by Lindsay attacking drag queen events and other supposed “groomers.”
Boghossian’s partnership with Christian nationalists is significant in light of the role played by Christian Nationalism in the Global National Conservative Alliance (GNCA), as recently reported by GIOR. One of the key European players in this alliance is the Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC), a Hungarian educational facility described in a GIOR report as follows:
The MATHIAS CORVINUS COLLEGIUM, a Hungarian educational facility, is a key part of the ORBÁN government’s struggle to control Hungarian higher education and is the center of National Conservative activity in the country. This facility, funded by a massive gift of stock from the ORBÁN government, has sponsored events and teaching positions for prominent US right-wing figures. Russia has already begun to employ National Conservative themes in its influence operations which will likely find a more receptive Western audience than in the past. Hungary is particularly fertile ground for Russian exploitation of National Conservatism given the existing close relationship between Russian and Hungarian elites and an extensive pre-existing Russian influence network.
Read the full report here
GIOR recently reported that Boghossian, an MCC guest instructor, was in Romania on behalf of the MCC and meeting with a Romanian MP whose party is sponsoring anti-LGBTQ legislation accused by critics of fueling Russian propaganda and disinformation campaigns. GIOR reported in October that MCC Brussels Executive Director Frank Furedi is an author for the Russian propaganda media operation RT (formerly Russia Today), where he has published multiple articles on culture war themes. GIOR has also reported on MCC guest lecturer John Laughland, a leader in the far-right Dutch political party the FvD and said to fit the profile of a KGB enabler.
Earlier this week, GIOR reported on the rising Christian nationalist wing of the Republican Party and its role in supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin while opposing military aid to Ukraine.
For further background on Peter Boghossian and his role at the MCC, go here.