Controversial Florida governor Ron DeSantis replaced five people on the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District earlier this year after Disney spoke out against his anti-LGBTQ+ “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
One of the appointees, Ron Peri, is an Orlando-based pastor and CEO of Christian ministry group The Gathering. Reports have caught him making false comments in an hour-long class for his group called “Cunningly Devised Fables.”
Some of the claims including “Whites were also slaves in America” and that there was an “Irish slave trade.” Peri also spread false claims that Irish slaves were forcibly bred with enslaved Africans and that there was a significant number of free Blacks who owned slaves during the antebellum era. Claims made by him were inspired by fabricated material that’s been debunked from media outlets including New York Times, Associated press and Reuters alongside historians.
The recent appointment of Peri by DeSantis comes as the Florida governor attempts to make changes to educational standards in terms of how race and gender are taught in schools statewide. Disney became a target of DeSantis after company CEO Bob Chapek made comments showing concerns about the measure.
Beyond threatening Disney’s tax and authoritative status in the area, DeSantis and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District have threatened to develop land around Disney World including a prison or competing theme park.
DeSantis’ changes to educational standards have been mounding over the past several months. Alongside restrictions to Advanced Placement African American History, the state’s department of education effectively banned AP Psychology classes for its content on sexual orientation and gender identity.