Update 6/3/2022: The far-right anti-vaccine conference is now taking place at the DoubleTree in Roswell, Georgia. Please contact the hotel directly as well as the company that manages it, Hospitality Ventures Management Group, with your concerns.
Update 6/2/2022: Unity North Atlanta has canceled the reservation for Next Steps conference.
On Friday and Saturday, June 3-4, “Next Steps,” a major anti-vaccine and COVID-19 denial conference, is scheduled to take place at Unity North Atlanta in Marietta, Georgia. QAnon believer Tiendra “Tia” Severino (née Demian) of Tucker, Georgia organized the conference with support from Timothy John Ray’s “UI Media” network. Tim Ray and at least two other speakers are vocal antisemites. One of these speakers has proclaimed that the “God of the Jews is Satan himself.”
“UI Media” and the “Next Steps” conference are thoroughly intertwined. The conference will feature a “UI Media Awards” ceremony presented by Tia Severino and Tim Ray. UI Media is the exclusive source for footage of the conference and markets “digital replay[s]” of conference workshops on its website. Conference organizer Tia Severino has hosted her show on UI Media for the past two years. The conference’s “VIP Party” on Saturday night will be held in Canton, Georgia, which happens to be where Tim Ray owns a home.
The “Next Steps” conference features big names from anti-vaccine and COVID-19 denial circles, such as Dr. Christiane Northrup, who played a key role in amplifying coronavirus disinformation in the pandemic’s first year, and COVID/snake venom conspiracy theorist Dr. Bryan Ardis. The conference also reflects the deep antisemitism of Tim Ray and his “UI Media” project. A couple scheduled to speak at the conference’s “VIP Dinner” on Friday argues that a Jewish conspiracy has plotted for centuries to rule the world, currently controls the US government, and aims to enslave all non-Jewish people. Tim Ray finds this theory credible enough to promote the couple and other hardcore antisemites on his UI Media site. In a speech to an anti-mask/anti-vaccine rally in Atlanta last year, Tim Ray made thinly coded references to conspiracy theories of Jewish power, blaming “international Sabbatian cabalists” for the COVID-19 pandemic.
As well as spreading medical falsehoods and stirring up hatred against Jewish people, the Next Steps conference has ties to other far-Right organizers in Georgia and nationally. We document these ties throughout this piece. Since the conference aims to not only undermine public health measures but to normalize far-right and antisemitic organizing, we believe it deserves a response. We include action items at the end of this article.
Steven and Jana Ben-Nun
Steven and Jana Ben-Nun of Israeli News Live are scheduled to speak at the Friday night “VIP Dinner” for the Next Steps Conference. The couple has earlier histories in Messianic Jewish circles. In recent years, they have embraced an unambiguously antisemitic worldview. Before a 2012 name change, Steven Ben-Nun was known as Stephen Troy Cummings. He has also used the name “Steven DeNoon” in early writings. Jana Ben-Nun is listed as Jana Sutoova in Florida business filings for their DeNoon Institute of Biblical Research. The couple presently lives in Sunbright, Tennessee.
In a May 2021 interview with Tim Ray on the UI Media website, Steven Ben-Nun claimed that a Jewish conspiracy spanning centuries has “been steering everything from the background” and is headed toward establishing a “New World Order.” He added that this conspiracy operates on a “global scale” and impacts “every aspect of government and social life.” “All the wars that we see happening in the world” are a result of Jewish infiltration and manipulation, according to Ben-Nun. In the second half of the interview, Steven Ben-Nun was joined by his wife Jana, and the two discussed the alleged conspiracy’s plans to kill off much of the world’s population, to make non-Jewish people into the slaves of Jews, and to behead Christians and others who do not submit. According to Jana Ben-Nun, the conspiracy aims for a world where “One Jew will have 2,500 gentiles as slaves”. Jana Ben-Nun also asserted that the world-controlling Jewish conspiracy is behind child trafficking and organ trafficking and that the “God of the Jews is Satan himself.” Following this interview, program host Tim Ray invited Steven Ben-Nun back on UI Media another three times.
The interview we summarized is typical Ben-Nun fare. In a 2020 interview on Rick Wiles’ TruNews – another antisemitic website – Jana Ben-Nun declared that the “transgender agenda today” has “its origin in Zionism” and is part of the massive Jewish plot. A November 2021 article by Jana Ben-Nun on Israeli News Live states: “Israel was created by the Rothchild [sic] dynasty […] These are the same people that were responsible for the Holocaust.” Jana Ben-Nun uses a rhetorical technique called synecdoche, in which a part of something is used to stand for the whole: in this case, the Rothschild family is used to represent a broader Jewish conspiracy. Blaming an imagined Jewish conspiracy for the Nazi genocide against Europe’s Jewish population is peak antisemitism.
The fact that Steven and Jana Ben-Nun have achieved niche celebrity status is symptomatic of the antisemitism which already exists within anti-vaccine and COVID-19 denial spaces. However, by giving Jew-hating propagandists a prestigious spot at the Next Steps “VIP dinner,” organizers are attempting to place antisemitism even closer to the center of anti-vaccine and COVID-19 denial movements.
Two Other “VIP Dinner” Speakers
Many of the conference speakers are well-known figures within anti-vaccination circles. They can roughly be divided between “old school” anti-vaxxers who were active before the COVID-19 pandemic began, and those who became active with the pandemic. It would be tedious to discuss these characters individually, but researchers can check their names on an archived version of the event’s website. However, we wish to highlight two other speakers scheduled for the Next Steps “VIP dinner,” since these figures highlight the broader far-Right circles and agenda which animate the gathering.
Benjamin Swann is the keynote speaker for the “Next Steps” dinner. Swann regularly appeared on RT America, a channel sponsored by the Russian state, between 2013 – 2015. In June 2015, he landed a job at CBS 46 in Atlanta. While at the station, Swann’s “Reality Check” reports “often veered into alt-right conspiracy theories” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Swann devoted a six-minute news section to Pizzagate in 2017, with Swann promoting the conspiracy theory in a “just asking questions” manner. Pizzagate, which claimed that liberal elites participated in a child abuse ring run from the basement of a Washington DC pizzeria, was later elaborated on by the QAnon movement.
The station suspended Swann following his Pizzagate broadcast and fired him in January 2018, after Swann tried to relaunch his “Reality Check” series without his employer’s consent. Swann then returned to RT America. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Swann has been a prolific source of COVID-19 conspiracy theories and falsehoods. In 2020, he established ISE Media – a video streaming and social networking site – which was later rebranded as SovRen. The site has been adopted by far-right propagandist Alex Jones of InfoWars among others.
Kandiss S. Taylor, who was a fringe candidate for governor in Georgia, is also scheduled to speak at the “VIP dinner.” Taylor turned conspiracy theories into campaign issues, claiming that she would take on the “Global Luciferian Regime [that] has seeped its way into our Government.” While Taylor has not publicly endorsed QAnon, such rhetoric resonates within QAnon circles. Campaigning on the slogan of “Jesus Guns Babies,” Taylor rejected separation of church and state and promoted Christian nationalism. Taylor also claimed that Native Americans who faced massacres and whose land was stolen, made a “sacrifice” so that settlers could worship Jesus freely. Taylor promotes conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election, with MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell a key supporter of her campaign. After coming in third for the Republican gubernatorial nomination with 3.4% of the vote, Taylor has predictably refused to concede, with Lindell promising a “big investigation” and Taylor tweeting: “I don’t stand still while communism takes over control.”
Timothy Ray, UI Media, Antisemitism, and the Far-right
We earlier discussed Timothy John Ray’s “UI Media” being centrally involved in conference organizing and promotion. Next Steps even includes a “UI Media Awards” as part of its programming. “UI Media” is an outgrowth of Tim Ray’s United Intentions Foundation, Inc., registered as a Georgia business in 2009 and approved by the IRS as a tax-exempt nonprofit in 2010. According to a recent IRS return, United Intentions’ mission is to “awaken all people to the power of their intentions.” In 2015, United Intentions launched the UI Radio Network – now UI Media Network – with broadcasts focusing on self-help and a “conscious” lifestyle, but occasionally veering into paranormal topics and conspiracy theories. With the 2020 debut of Tim Ray’s “Frequency Wars” show, UI Media Network moved to unambiguous far-Right politics and antisemitism, while maintaining its lifestyle programming to drawn people in.
In addition to promoting Steven and Jana Ben-Nun, Tim Ray has hosted other antisemites on UI Media. Ray has done two broadcasts with David Icke, a conspiracy theorist and New Age personality who cites The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and defends Holocaust deniers in his writing. Icke believes that “Rothschild” plotters were behind Hitler’s rise to power. He has subsequently claimed that “Rothschild” conspirators are behind everything from staging the September 11, 2001 attacks to manufacturing the coronavirus pandemic, which Icke claims is not an actual pandemic.
Tim Ray also hosted New Ager and conspiracy theorist Sacha Stone for three episodes on UI Media’s “Frequency Wars.” According to the UK monitoring organization Hopes Not Hate, Stone deploys “coded antisemitic language very similar to that of David Icke.” In October 2021, Tim Ray hosted a UI Media appearance for Harry Vox. Vox has claimed that “Jewish Finance Capital [aims] to destroy & enslave us” and that COVID-10 vaccines are a Jewish plot to sicken and kill white women.
Ray’s work with antisemites does not stop there. On May 20, 2021, Ray hosted Robert David Steele along with Sacha Stone for the first date of Steele’s “Arise USA” speaking tour. The event took place in the parking lot in front of the United Intentions Foundation office in Roswell, Georgia. A detailed profile on Steele by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights describes him as an “prolific purveyor of antisemitism who spews conspiracy theories about ‘satanic Zionists’ engaged in a global plot against white people [and who] promotes Holocaust denial”. Steele would die later in 2021 from COVID-19, which until the end he refused to accept as real.
Beyond these antisemites, UI Media also promotes other far-right movements and figures. On presidential election day, November 3, 2020, UI hosted Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers, for the first time. Over the next year, Rhodes made further appearances on the network. Rhodes and other Oath Keepers are presently facing federal “seditious conspiracy” charges for their roles in the January 6, 2021 storming of the US Capitol.
The John Birch Society (JBS) is another source of guests for UI Media. Alex Newman, a senior editor at JBS’s The New American magazine, has appeared on UI Media a dozen times. For two of those appearances, Newman was joined by G. Edward Griffin, a JBS life member who is best known for writing the anti-Federal Reserve The Creature from Jekyll Island. JBS, founded in 1958 and whose membership peaked in the mid-1960s, is an anti-communist and far-right group that believes a shadowy group of “insiders” manipulate world politics and economy. JBS claims that its theories have no antisemitic aspect or implication, yet it is easy to see how this worldview could merge with explicit antisemitic beliefs. In another example of UI Media promoting JBS figures, on her “The People’s Truth” show Tia Severino interviewed JBS member Kim Fletter of Cleveland, Georgia on the topic of “The U.N. and the N.W.O. [‘New World Order’]”.
Incidentally, frequent UI Media guest and The New American senior editor Alex Newman is on the advisory board for Truth in Education, a Georgia group with an anti-trans, anti-“obscenity,” and anti-“critical race theory” agenda. Truth in Education is listed among Next Steps’ “Silver Sponsors” and is one of the Georgia organizations presenting at the conference’s “Community Building” workshop.
Tiendra “Tia” Severino
Next Steps conference organizer Tiendra Severino (née Demian) has a complicated and problematic history as a parent and activist-parent. When police arrested her on other charges in 2003, they alleged that she had neglected her daughter. In the name of protecting children, Severino began her anti-vaccination activism in 2016 when she arranged Atlanta screenings for “Vaxxed”, a documentary film promoting the debunked theory that vaccines cause autism spectrum disorder (Severino has a son with autism spectrum disorder, which she blames on vaccination). Severino subsequently helped with a sequel documentary, “Vaxxed II”. The name of Severino’s UI Media show, “The People’s Truth,” is taken from the subtitle for this sequel.
The producer of “Vaxxed,” Del Bigtree, is scheduled to speak at Next Steps conference while the director of “Vaxxed II,” Brian Burrowes, will talk during the conference’s Friday night “VIP dinner.”
By 2018, Severino was drawing close to QAnon, a movement based on conspiracy theories of a child-murdering Satanic elite. QAnon viewed Trump as a hero who, along with unnamed military generals, would vanquish this vast conspiracy. On the Facebook page of “Peeps TV” – a media channel connected with production for “Vaxxed II” – Severino interviewed two major QAnon promoters, Jordan Sather and Dustin Krieger (“Dustin Nemos”), in November 2018. During 2020, Severino publicly displayed her QAnon sympathies in social media posts. With Trump’s electoral defeat, QAnon has transformed and camouflaged itself, with some participants moving on to other circles and issues, and others increasingly upfront about their antisemitism. It is unclear whether Severino continues believing in the complete QAnon package. However, she endorsed the view that Satanic elites sacrifice children during a September 2021 discussion about “Secret Societies” on UI Media. In December 2021, she interviewed QAnon influencer Dustin Krieger again, this time for UI Media.
The Next Steps conference is attracting high-profile anti-vaccine propagandists and is endorsed by major anti-vaccine organizations such as the National Vaccine Information Center and Children’s Health Defense. By circulating debunked claims and suggesting a medical conspiracy at work, anti-vaccine organizers work against public health measures that save lives. This is dangerous enough on its own. However, our documentation shows that the anti-vaccination and COVID-19 denial scenes serve as a bridge to even more extravagant conspiracy theories and to far-right organizing.
The Next Steps conference is a collaboration between main organizer Tia Severino and Tim Ray’s “UI Media.” Severino believes that child-sacrificing Satanists operate behind the scenes of world events. Tim Ray believes that “international Sabbatian cabalists” are behind the COVID-19 pandemic, which Ray also believes is fake. UI Media is centrally involved with the Next Steps conference, which includes “UI Media Awards” hosted by Ray and Severino as part of its programming. UI Media will also profit from selling recordings of the event. The media project combines “conscious” lifestyle content with hatred of Jewish people and support for far-right organizing.
Antisemitism is directly promoted at the conference, since the event advertises Steven and Jana Ben-Nun as speakers during its Friday night “VIP Dinner.” The Ben-Nuns believe that a Jewish conspiracy aims to enslave humanity and threatens to behead anyone who would resist. UI Media endorses and promotes this antisemitic conspiracy theory.
Just weeks ago, a white supremacist gunman murdered ten Black people and injured others in a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York. Antisemitism was a core element of the murderer’s manifesto and helped animate and intensify his anti-Black racism. To explain this dynamic further, it is important to understand that white supremacists typically hold two contradictory beliefs about race: that white people are naturally superior, and that white people are naturally victimized. White supremacist antisemites argue that if the playing field were equal, then whites would “win,” but a Jewish conspiracy using Black people as puppets tricks white people into allowing themselves to lose. Antisemitism therefore allows racists to avoid the cognitive dissonance of holding two contradictory beliefs, and encourages them to nurse imagined racial grievances until they explode into murderous rage.
Organizing against those who spread Jew-hatred is community defense, and antisemites must be rejected wherever they attempt to organize. With this in mind, we ask all readers to share our documentation and to devote time to our action items below. Please also follow our social media for updates about the conference. Get in touch if you have further information about the Next Steps conference, UI Media, or other far-right organizing in our region.
· Contact Unity North Atlanta and ask them to cancel the antisemitic anti-vaccine event. The venue may not be aware of the conference’s true nature, so please be polite when presenting information.
· Contact Serendipity Catering of Sandy Springs. Ask them why they are catering the Friday and Saturday lunches for this conference. Stress that they are not only supporting anti-vaccine and COVID-19 denial causes, but far-right organizing and agitation against Jewish people.
· Reach out to Maine Street Coastal Cuisine of Cartersville, Georgia. Ask why they are catering the Friday night “VIP Dinner” featuring antisemitic speakers who proclaim that “God of the Jews is Satan himself.” Stay polite but insist that the business must cancel all support for this event.
· UI Media spreads antisemitic propaganda as well as lies around COVID-19. Amazon Web Services host this website, with its domain name registered by GoDaddy. Contact Amazon Web Services to complain about its hosting an antisemitic propaganda website. Also contact GoDaddy about its domain name services for the site.