Historically, the alt-right has organized around this culture which has accepted a range of controversial anti-feminist, anti-Islam, anti-immigration and white nationalist beliefs.
However, Ignatius pointed out, many Catholics who have political beliefs that could be considered alt-right “realize the evil of racism, how race is such a malleable and meaningless concept, how opposed, to Church teaching it is.”
And many of these people have been drawn to the movement by its strong denunciation of perceived problems within modern society, he said. However, even for those who don’t initially hold racist views themselves, the alt-right could still prove dangerous, Ignatius noted.
In many places in the movement, it is “more permissible for someone to be slightly racist” than it is for them to promote monarchist or feudalist ideals, he said. Thus, when some casual members of the group’s internet meme culture seek an ideological home in the alt-right, “it's incredibly easy to slip into all forms of horrendous racism,” he warned.
“The alt-right requires one to sublimate religion to race in a lot of ways, hence calling the pope a ‘cuck,’” or “disliking” Guinean cardinal Robert Sarah, he said.
Furthermore, many members of the alt-right who were focused on other forms of nationalism but who were not racist have left the movement in the wake of the 2016 election, he said.
During the presidential election, groups like “traditionalists, white nationalists, libertarians, civic nationalists” all coalesced, but since then “non-overtly-racist civic nationalists” have left the movement. This has allowed the more openly white nationalist elements to define what the alt-right is, both within online communities and to the outside world,” Ignatius said.
“Although I've said that the alt right is nebulous to the point where it's hard to call them universally racists, it's accurate to say it's a racist movement.”
There are other morally reprehensible beliefs held by some in the alt-right, he noted, particularly support for abortion in non-white communities and the belief in paganism of some members.
In an April 2016 article for Radix Journal – a publication started by Richard Spencer – Aylmer Fisher pushed back against what he called the “pro-life temptation.”
Fisher argued that the pro-life position is “dysgenic” because it does not oppose birth among populations that are more likely to be below the poverty line and more likely to be of African-American or Hispanic heritage.
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“Not only is the pro-life movement dysgenic,” Fisher wrote, “but its justifications rely on principles we generally reject. The alt-right is skeptical, to say the least, of concepts like ‘equality’ and ‘human rights,’ especially as bases for policy. The unborn fetus has no connection to anyone else in the community.”
He criticized pro-lifers, saying that those who are interested in “banning abortion because it’s ‘racist’ or adopting children from Africa, are the ultimate cuckservatives.”
While it’s unclear how seriously most members of the alt-right promote abortion, or how many support abortion access, it’s been a “consistent” topic of conversation among some of the group’s most vocal leaders and on some message boards, de Mahy said.
“They’re very explicit about the fact that this is a form of eugenics and that’s a good thing,” he said. Ultimately, “the alt-right would consider themselves to be pro-white and differing on the specifics of how to realize the furthering of the White Race. They would disagree about whether some things are pragmatic,” he said of support for abortion.
And while some members of the alt-right are Christian and while some see the Christian legacy – like historic Christian Europe – as a foundation for their worldview, others just see it as a vehicle for carrying their racist agenda. Or, they despise Christianity altogether.
“A lot of these people are very explicitly Atheist,” de Mahy said. “The overarching understanding of religion is largely instrumentalist.”