Progressive activist, former Christian pastor Shaun King converts to Islam

Activist Shaun King speaks at the fifth anniversary memorial event marking the death of Eric Garner at Canaan Baptist Church in Harlem, New York, on July 30, 2019.
Activist Shaun King speaks at the fifth anniversary memorial event marking the death of Eric Garner at Canaan Baptist Church in Harlem, New York, on July 30, 2019. | The Christian Post/Leonardo Blair

A well-known progressive activist and former Christian pastor has announced his conversion to Islam and expressed solidarity with Palestinians amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. 

In a post on Telegram early Monday morning, Shaun King announced that he and his wife “converted to Islam to start off Ramadan” at their mosque in Dallas, Texas. A video excerpt from the conversion ceremony shows King agreeing that “there is only one God and his messenger is Muhammad.” 

After describing his conversion as a “beautiful, powerful, meaningful” experience that he will “never forget,” King said he planned to “begin fasting in the morning with over 1 billion Muslims around the world.” King’s post about fasting reflects that fasting from sunrise to sunset is a custom practiced by various Muslims sects when they observe Ramadan.

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King added, “My heart is with my dearest friends in Gaza and I’m proud that we were able to provide meals tonight to thousands and thousands of families from the North to the South in Gaza and will do so every day of Ramadan.” His Telegram account consists of multiple posts documenting the situation in Gaza following the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks on Israeli civilians, expressing sympathy with the Palestinians there and outlining his efforts to provide them with hot meals during Ramadan. 

In a subsequent post Monday afternoon, King vowed to “begin sharing our journey with Islam this Ramadan.” He also expressed gratitude that “we have received hundreds of messages from all over the world of men, women, and children that want to convert to Islam with us.” 

King first became a source of national controversy in 2015, when he emerged as one of the most prominent voices in favor of the Black Lives Matter movement. King, a former Christian pastor, suggested that the man listed as his biological father on his birth certificate was not his biological father and that his real biological father was a “light-skinned black man” whom his white mother had relations with. His comments led to allegations that he was merely pretending to be black. 

King has also been mired in several controversies surrounding the accounting of money he managed for social justice causes and his relaunch of Frederick Douglass’ abolitionist newspaper, The North Star. While The Daily Beast noted he’s never faced criminal or civil charges related to the accusations of wrongdoing, professor and author Keisha N. Blain said in a post on Twitter/X in 2020 that she was “warned” about King. Blain claimed that she learned through personal experience that he is a “liar and a fraud.”

Following the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Oct. 1, 2017, King suggested that “whiteness, somehow, protects men from being labeled as terrorists.” He noted that the perpetrator behind the Las Vegas mass shooting was white and contrasted the treatment he received from the media with the treatment directed at non-white mass shooters by the media. 

In 2020, following the death of George Floyd in police custody, King generated backlash for proclaiming that “the statues of the white European they claim is Jesus should also come down” along with statues memorializing historic figures who owned slaves and/or supported slavery. King described the depiction of Jesus as a “form of white supremacy.” 

“In the Bible, when the family of Jesus wanted to hide, and blend in, guess where they went? EGYPT! Not Denmark. Tear them down,” he demanded. 

King maintained that “all murals and stained glass windows of white Jesus, and his European mother, and their white friends should also come down.” Characterizing them as a “gross form of white supremacy,” he claimed they were “racist propaganda” and “tools of oppression.” 

“I am a practicing Christian. I am an ordained minister and was a senior pastor for many years,” he noted in response to the blowback and alleged death threats he received for his condemnation of “white Jesus.” King defended his comments, doubling down on his belief that “Christian whiteness has ALWAYS been dangerous.” 

King elaborates more on his background and experience on his personal website. An archived version of the website as it appeared in 2020 highlights King’s “astounding 1,500 articles on injustice” that have appeared in The Intercept, New York Daily News, Harvard Law’s Fair Punishment Project and the Daily Kos.  

The website portrays the speaker and writer as a journalist, humanitarian, and activist as well as a “magnetic element of the Black Lives Matter movement” and a “humane and passionate advocate for justice and families.” It mentions that King previously served as a “popular high school history and civics teacher in Atlanta, then a traveling teacher and counselor at a dozen different jails, prisons, and youth detention centers in Georgia–speaking and teaching 5 times a day, 5 times a week, for years.”

“Shaun started and pastored a church in inner city Atlanta and launched several award-winning social good campaigns that raised millions of dollars for causes around the world,” the website added. A 2016 interview with BuzzFeed News identifies the church King started as Courageous Church.

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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