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Prayer Candles

Belonging by Design

October 6-20th, 2023

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Richard "Mac" 

The Stranger at the Gate
Ex-Marine, Public Speaker

Richard “Mac” McKinney, skills coach, motivational speaker, and peace and conflict resolution advocate, is a very different man today than he was in 2009.


Mr. McKinney’s story begins in the early 1980s, when he embarked on a nearly 25-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, and the Army Reserves. With sustained injuries from an explosion in Iraq, he returned to civilian life in 2003, but felt lost without having a direct means to serve his country. And his tours through Desert Storm and Afghanistan taught him that Muslims were the enemy.


Mr. McKinney eventually channeled his anger and rage into a one-man plot to detonate explosives at the Islamic Center of Muncie. To him, this was a way to still serve his country—if in a very different way.


Once a man determined to harm people in a misguided sense of duty to his country, Mr. McKinney has changed his life, transforming into an individual who instead strives to help people. His transformation included converting to Islam, and eventually earning his bachelor’s degree in Social Work.


Mr. McKinney’s journey—from disoriented U.S. Marine veteran intent on blowing up a mosque in Muncie, Indiana into a proud, contributing member of the local Muslim community—is the focus of the Oscar-nominated short film documentary, “Stranger at the Gate.”

Credit for this biography and photo go to Ball State University.

A Free Daily Interview Series
October 9-20th, 2023

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