America’s Biggest Race-Baiter Converts to Islam

A controversial pastor and activist in the United States is under fire again, this time for converting from Christianity to Islam along with his wife, citing the ongoing war in Gaza as the reason for his decision to convert to Islam.

Shaun King, an author and former pastor who became popular for his activism, especially during the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in the 2010s after several incidents of police brutality in the United States, is no stranger to controversy. 

But his most recent scandal revolves not around police brutality or his contentious fundraising campaigns. Instead, he stirred a storm on social media after he decided to convert to Islam. A video of King reciting the Shahada, or the Muslim profession of faith affirming that there is only one God and Muhammad is his messenger, appeared and went viral on X (formerly known as Twitter) on March 10th.

Another video of him speaking about his embrace of Islam at the Valley Ranch Islamic Center (VRIC) in Irving, Texas, also circulated on social media. King was also seen wearing a black-and-white checkered keffiyeh, commonly seen as a symbol of Palestinian nationalism, in several clips posted on social media.

In these videos, King was also seen with Omar Suleiman, founder of the Yaqueen Institute, an imam at the VRIC, and a Religion News Service (RNS) columnist. Omar said he and King had “multiple discussions” about the Islamic faith over the course of nearly a decade before he offered the microphone to King so that he could explain the timing of his conversion. He also credited his decision to the “past six months of suffering, pain, and trauma that we’ve seen in Gaza” as his reason for converting to Islam.

Before King recited the shahada, Suleiman stressed that, upon making his declaration of faith, “Islam does away with everything that comes before, and so every sin that you have committed, any wrong, any mistakes up until this moment, are completely forgiven.” A former pastor of Courageous Church in Atlanta, Georgia, from 2008 to 2011, King converted to Islam along with his wife, Rai.

More than anything, it’s been friendship, sincere friendship, and just the deep ocean of faith of the Palestinian people that’s moved my heart,” King said, who has become active in supporting the Palestinian cause since the war broke out between Israel and Gaza following the deadly surprise attack by Hamas that killed 1,200 Israelis on October 7th.

He also went on to praise the Gazans’ “faith and their devotion to Islam,” adding that this “not only opened my heart but has opened the hearts of millions of people around the world.” But the day after his conversion to Islam, King announced his Uncensored Iftar tour with law professor and author Khaled Beydoun, who is himself a controversial figure, with general admission tickets costing $60 and premium tickets costing up to $120. American rapper Macklemore, who was about to appear in King’s “Hope During Times Of Genocide” tour, pulled out after he was called out online. 

King has been embroiled in a lot of controversies in the past for his fundraising campaigns, which many people called scams, and many conservative media outlets also questioned his racial identity as a biracial man. However, the activist found himself in hot water again, this time for his focus on the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, which saw 30,000 Gazans killed amidst Israel’s ferocious military offensive.

In one recent controversy, King claimed he “worked frantically behind the scenes” and talked with Hamas to secure the release of Judith Raanan and her daughter, Natalie Raanan, two American hostages taken by Hamas. Members of the Ranaan family were displeased with King after he implied they supported his anti-Israeli messages on social media and accused him of lying. Although King insisted that a brother of the hostages had been in contact with him, the Ranaan family also insisted that they “are not affiliated with Mr. King.

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