This was no collection of fringe characters.
For too long the mainstream media has either ignored these people, marginalized them as kooks, or mainstreamed them by having them on while ignoring their creepier beliefs/statements/pasts.
I think one reason (and there others) for this is that by cloaking their wingnuttery in religion they shield themselves from criticism. They've fought long and hard to make sure we know that in this overwhelmingly Christian country, anti-Christian bigotry is the number one problem. The media just will not go there.