Tennessee Freedom Coalition
Lou Ann Zelenik created the Tennessee Freedom Coalition in March 2011. Zelenik galvanized anti-Muslim hysteria in 2010 by leading the protest of the proposed Islamic center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, during her failed campaign for the Sixth District Republican congressional nomination. Zelenik claimed some in the Muslim community “want to destroy our civilization” and cited it as a reason to oppose the mosque. She relied on Frank Gaffney’s expertise to justify her unsubstantiated and incorrect allegations.
The Tennessee Freedom Coalition produced a 16-minute video with another grassroots organization from Boston, Americans for Peace and Tolerance, in which they expose Nashville’s radical Islamist preachers who allegedly indoctrinated Vanderbilt University students and Nashville mosque members with anti-Americanism. The claims and smears in the video were roundly debunked, but that did not stop Republican Tennessee state Sen. Bill Ketron from giving the biased video to fellow senators in order to garner support for his anti-Sharia bill, which passed both houses of the state legislature on May 21, 2011. The Tennessee Eagle Forum, Tennessee Freedom Coalition, and ACT! for America Middle Tennessee Chapter co-sponsored the bill.
In November 2011, the Tennessee Freedom Coalition cosponsored “The Constitution or Sharia: Preserving Freedom Conference” in Nashville, Tennessee, which featured many of the architects and amplifiers of the Islamophobia network. The location of the conference served as a reminder to attendees that Tennessee was the first state to pass legislation making it a felony to follow Sharia law.