Robert Spencer

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Robert Spencer is Director of Jihad Watch, and a member of the advisory board of the American Congress for Truth. He holds a MA, Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a thesis in Christianity; his study of Islamic theology, law, and history is self-directed. He was an Adjunct Fellow with the Free Congress Foundation in 2002 and 2003.[1] His site quotes praise of his scholarship from Daniel Pipes and Frank Gaffney, Jr. Michelle Malkin endorses his book, Religion of Peace? Why Christianity is and Islam Isn’t, and calls him "public enemy number one of CAIR {Council on American Islamic Relations). [2]

Jihad Watch and Frontpage Magazine, to which he contributes, are funded by the David Horowitz Freedom Center. Jihad Watch has challenged the commentary of Carl Ernst of the University of North Carolina,

Since Carl Ernst refuses to debate Robert Spencer, instead of a debate, why not a specific question that deserves to be answered?

A few years ago, entering freshman at the University of North Carolina were required to read Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations by Michael Sells. This bowdlerized version of the Qur'an, turning it into some kind of cross between Rumi and Omar Khayyam, conveyed absolutely nothing to those hapless freshman about what Islam, or about what the Qur'an, is all about.[3]
Ernst had written of Spencer,
This information is significant because these books are not scholarly, and they do not pass the review of blind refereed evaluation practiced by university presses. They are instead supported by specific political and ideological interests ... In particular, the lectures given by authors such as Spencer on college campuses may be misunderstood as being equivalent to scholarly research. While it certainly may be acknowledged that scholarship has political implications, independent research needs to be distinguished from hired polemics.

The publications of Spencer belong to the class of Islamophobic extremism that is promoted and supported by right-wing organizations, who are perpetuating a type of bigotry similar to anti-Semitism and racial prejudice. They are to be viewed with great suspicion by anyone who wishes to find reliable and scholarly information on the subject of Islam. I make these remarks because Spencer was invited to speak at UNC-Chapel Hill in the spring of 2004; I shared these observations with UNC students at the time to indicate that his views have no basis in scholarship (he has no academic training in Islamic studies whatever; his M.A. degree was in the field of early Christianity).[4]

Spencer explains that his graduate study is "about the Christological controversies of the early Church, and their connection to various ecclesiological models. It led me to study the Eastern Churches in depth, which coalesced nicely with my study of Islam."[5]

Financial Times, reviewing a Spencer book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam, described him as "...a hero of the American right...Like any book written in hatred, his new work is a depressing read."[6] The accuracy of Jihad Watch posts have been challenged. [7]


  1. About Robert Spencer, Jihad Watch
  2. Michelle Malkin (13 August 2007), Religion of Peace?
  3. Fitzgerald: A question for Carl Ernst, Jihad Watch
  4. Carl W. Ernst, Notes on the Ideological Patrons of an Islamophobe, Robert Spencer, University of North Carolina
  5. Robert Spencer, Jihad Watch: Wikipedia and Robert Spencer, Jihad Watch
  6. Karen Armstrong (27 April 2007), "Balancing the Prophet", Financial Times
  7. In Search of the Truth, Chasing Evil, September 14, 2007