People For the American Way released a new video today calling out the Republican National Committee for accepting an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel for several dozen of its members from the American Family Association, an organization with a long record of promoting bigotry against LGBT people and non-Christians.
Today, People For the American Way released a new ad challenging members of the Republican National Committee (RNC) for accepting an all-expense paid trip to Israel from the American Family Association (AFA). The ad calls on the RNC to stand against the AFA’s hateful rhetoric about Jewish Americans, LGBT individuals, and many other people in our country.
“The hate of the American Family Association is rampant, from calling ‘Jewish atheists’ some of the ‘worst enemies of the country’ to claiming that gay people caused the Holocaust,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “We deserve to know why Republicans continue to stand with this hate group after years of offensive statements by their leaders. By failing to speak up against the AFA, Republican leaders are showing their acceptance of hateful rhetoric in their party.”
Watch the ad here:
PFAW’s Right Wing Watch blog has long documented the bigoted statements of AFA leaders. Here are just some of the key examples:
Selected Statements of AFA Leaders
Bryan Fischer, Former Official Spokesperson for the AFA
“The Nazi Party, ladies and gentlemen, was formed in a gay bar. In other words, no homosexual thugs, no Nazi Party.” [6/9/11]
Gay sex is "Domestic Terrorism. I Don't Know What Else You'd Call It."[9/15/10]
Native Americans deserved to lose control of North America because "the superstition, savagery and sexual immorality" made them "morally disqualified from sovereign control of American soil." [2/8/11]
All new immigrants must “convert to Christianity” or “stay home.” [4/8/11]
Gay rights activists “are Nazis. Do not be under any illusions about what homosexual activists will do with your freedoms and your religion if they have the opportunity. They'll do the same thing to you that the Nazis did to their opponents in Nazi Germany.” [5/18/11]
Christians should convert Jews to Christianity, Jews and Christians “do not worship the same God.” [8/26/11]
“The purpose of the First Amendment is to protect the free exercise of the Christian religion.” [9/29/11]
"Political leadership ought to be ... reserved for the hands of males" [10/15/12]
People who believe in evolution are “disqualified from holding political office in the United States of America.” [1/2/14]
“Being an active homosexual should disqualify you from public office…we're going to have to choose between the gay agenda and Christianity. We can't have both.” [1/8/15]
David Lane, Founder of the AFA’s American Renewal Project
The separation of church and state is a “lie” and a “fabricated whopper” used to stop “Christian America – the moral majority – from imposing moral government on pagan public schools, pagan higher learning and pagan media.” [6/6/13]
“We were established as a Christian nation, for the advancement of the Christian faith.” [1/30/15]
“Vote to restore the Bible and prayer in public schools or be sent home. Hanging political scalps on the wall is the only love language politicians can hear.” [7/17/13]
While “America was a Christian nation” since its founding, now it must choose between being “a Christian nation or a pagan nation.” [7/17/13]
“Homosexuals praying at the Inauguration” of President Obama in 2013 will provoke God’s wrath in the form of “car bombs in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Des Moines, Iowa.” [7/23/13]
Republicans who support marriage equality are like politicians who backed slavery in the run-up to the Civil War. [1/29/15]
Americans “grovel to the false god of Islam,” “America, a Christian nation in heritage and culture, is being dismantled brick by brick.” [1/29/15]
Lane and the AFA don’t only promote a Christian nationalist view of the U.S. government and push smears against those of other religions and fellow Christians who do not share their views, but the AFA has a troubling history of bigotry toward secular Jews in the U.S. and Israel.
Rosenberg is hardly a new friend of the Republican Party. Back in 2011, he led a delegation to Israel that included a number of GOP congressmen, including Rep. Louis Gohmert, who took the opportunity to give a copy of Rosenberg’s latest novel to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Throughout the week, we have been chronicling the fact that several dozen members of the Republican National Committee are currently in Israel on a trip organized by Christian nationalist David Lane and paid for by an anti-gay hate group, the American Family Association.
Until attention began to be focused on the trip, nobody over at the RNC seemed to have any problem with the AFA's long record of openly promoting bigotry. Then, in a pathetically transparent effort to alleviate the controversy surrounding this trip, the AFA stripped its most notorious bigot, Bryan Fischer, of his title as the organization's director of issues analysis and role as official spokesman last week, while keeping him on staff and allowing him to retain his daily radio program on the AFA's radio network.
It seems as if the AFA's feeble effort to wash its hands of Fischer's bigotry has failed, as Haaretz is reporting that RNC Chairman Reince Priebus backed out of the trip at the last moment, claiming that he had a funeral to attend in the U.S. but would be joining the group later. But now, according to the report, Priebus will not be joining the group at all.
The most interesting aspect of this report is the fact Dennis Prager, who is currently in Israel on this very trip, says that everyone who went on the AFA's dime is repulsed by Fischer and his views.
Earlier this week, the AFA distanced itself from its former spokesman who had made statements described by critics as anti-Semitic, homophobic and racist. The spokesman, Bryan Fischer, had said, among other remarks, that America is a Christian nation in which Jews and Muslims are not entitled to constitutional protection for their religious expression.
Prager said he completely supported the decision to cut ties with Fischer. “The second I heard what he said, I said that if he really said those thing they’re repugnant,” he said. “Everybody here thinks they’re repugnant. Frankly, I can’t believe that a human being in the 21st century would say such things. It’s mind-blowing.”
The Jewish talk show host said he had never heard of Fischer before, nor had he had any dealings with any other representatives of the AFA. “This is all brand new news to me,” he said.
Sandy Rios, the American Family Association’s governmental affairs director, is upset with media coverage blaming the current measles outbreak on parents who refuse to vaccinate their children and thinks that the media should instead be baselessly blaming immigrants.
On her radio program today, Rios claimed that it is a “fact” that unvaccinated immigrants are to blame for the outbreaks of measles and Enterovirus D68.
“We cannot lay this outbreak of measles at the feet of parents who have refused to vaccinate their kids,” she said. “It’s their kids who are getting sick, by the way, and that’s plenty punishment. But I would say, and I submit to you that the vast majority of the problem that we’re having is because we have opened our borders to great danger.”
Rios said yesterday that while she personally believes in vaccination, she thinks that parents who don’t are receiving too much criticism, noting Sen. Rand Paul’s recent statement that vaccines have been linked to “profound mental disorders.”
“The thing that I’m resisting is this groundswell of vitriol against parents who have for now a long time decided not to vaccinate their children because of their concerns,” she said, insisting that such vitriol should instead be directed against immigrants.
“The thing that bothers me even more that I have heard no one say, no one, no one, no one, at least not in this current discussion, talk about the effect of thousands of illegal immigrant children coming across the border last summer who certainly haven’t been vaccinated, who certainly have carried into our country diseases we have not seen in sometimes a century or two,” she said.
Ever since Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election, Religious Rightactivists have been pushing a vote-rigging scheme in which states would change the way in which they allot electoral votes during a presidential election, switching from the current winner-take-all approach to one in which electoral votes are allocated based upon the candidates' performance in each state's congressional districts.
The result of such a switch would be a system in which candidates who lose the overall popular vote in a state could still end up receiving a number, and in some cases even a majority, of that state's electoral votes simply by virtue of winning the popular vote in several individual districts. The impact would be greatest in swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, both carried by Obama, where Republicans have gerrymandered congressional districts to the party’s advantage
Obviously, there is something fundamentally flawed about any system in which the candidate who receives fewer votes still wins the election ... but that is not stopping American Family Radio's Bryan Fischer from throwing his support behind this plan in a piece he wrote today in which he laughably declared that this change would be more "fair":
Can such changes be made in the electoral college? Certainly. And there is no time like the present. As a result of the 2014 tsunami, the GOP now has total control of 24 states, meaning they control the state legislature and hold the governor’s seat. Since these decisions are made at the state level, 24 states are in a position, starting tomorrow, to change the way votes are awarded in the electoral college.
Such a change should not be made to give an electoral advantage to one party or another. Who can foresee what the landscape will look like in two years or 20? No, the reason to make such a change is that it is fair, just, right and in accordance with the Founders’ principle of representative government. It is an idea whose time has come. Will the GOP seize the moment?
How exactly a system under which a candidate who receives fewer votes wins the election is thought to be more "fair, just, [and] right" than one under which the candidate who receives more votes wins the election is anybody's guess.
American Family Association President Tim Wildmon said on his radio program today that while he doesn’t “know” whether President Obama is secretly Muslim, the president “does sympathize with Muslims and the Islamic religion,” perhaps “because he grew up in it over there in Indonesia or somewhere.”
After interviewing Newt Gingrich about his recent claim that “the United States is losing the war with radical Islamists,” Wildmon pointed to a poll showing that 17 percent of voters, and 34 percent of conservative Republican voters, falsely believe that the President is a Muslim.
“I don’t know if he is or not, I don’t think he gets on his prayer rug five times a day but surely it’s obvious that he does sympathize with Muslims and the Islamic religion,” Wildmon said. “Maybe that’s because he grew up in it over there in Indonesia or somewhere”
If Wildmon wonders why some people wrongly think that Obama is a Muslim, he can look no further than his own talk radio network.
At this very moment, some 60 members of the Republican National Committee are in Israel, courtesy of the anti-gay hate group the American Family Association, on a trip organized by Religious Right activist and full-blown Christian nationalist David Lane.
Fischer has a long history of not only attacking gays and Muslims, but also of declaring that the First Amendment only applies to Christianity, meaning that no other religion is entitled to any sort of constitutional protection ... and that specifically includes Judaism, as he explained back in 2013 when he said that Jews only represented 0.2 percent of the population at the time of this nation's founding and were never intended to be covered by the First Amendment.
"By 'religion,' the Founders were thinking of Christianity," Fischer said, approximately 2:30 into this clip. "So the purpose was to protect the free exercise of the Christian faith. It wasn’t about protecting anything else. They weren’t providing any cover or shelter for the free exercise of Islam or even Judaism or even atheism."
On top of that, Fischer has repeatedly declared that anyone who wishes to immigrate to the United States ought to be required to "leave behind their religion and their god" and convert to Christianity.
Fischer's views were so disturbing that, according to Politico, the Anti-Defamation League privately contacted the RNC and asked them to cancel the scheduled trip to Israel, to no avail:
A week before Republican National Committee members were set to depart Saturday on a trip to Israel sponsored by a pair of evangelical groups active in right-wing politics, officials at the Anti-Defamation League privately reached out to the RNC with a warning.
While they appreciated the interest in the Jewish state, it would be “inappropriate” for committee members to travel there with the American Family Association and the American Renewal Project — groups known for “incendiary and bigoted” language attacking gays, Mormons and Muslims, said Stacy Burdett, the ADL’s government affairs director.
The trip — a nine-day expenses-paid excursion to explore Israeli history and issues of religious liberty, according to one participant — nevertheless proceeded as planned.
Amid all the controversy surrounding this trip, Fischer himself tried to do a bit of damage control, writing a column last week declaring that "The U.S. Should Support Israel Because God Does." Interestingly, the crux of Fischer's argument is that America must support Israel because Christianity and Judaism both worship the same God:
The Jewish people zealously protected, preserved, and passed on the very words of God as recorded by the ancient prophets and historians in Israel. Our faith as a Christian nation is rooted in Jewish soil. No Judaism, no Christianity ... Our Messiah, the one we regard as the Savior of the world, walked this earth as a Jew and practiced the Jewish faith. Simple regard for the person of Jesus commands respect for the faith he himself followed and the people to whom he belonged.
So it is odd that just a few days after saying that Christians and Jews worship the same God, Fischer then wrote a new piece arguing that Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God, which he attempted to prove by arguing that the god that Muslims worship does not have a son:
The God of the Bible has a Son. The god of Islam does not ... The plain declaration of Christianity, then, is that Jesus is the eternally begotten Son of the true and living God. There never was a time, not even in eternity past, when he was not the Son of God.
But Islam, on the other hand, flatly denies that Allah has a son at at all. “He begetteth not, nor is begotten.” In fact, believing that God has a begotten Son will get you stoned to death in many parts of the Muslim world.
On top of all this, and of particular offense to orthodox Muslims, is the fact that Christians worship Jesus himself as God as the second member of the Trinity. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:3). Muslims are horrified at the thought that Jesus could be worshiped as God and consider such a belief as blasphemy worthy of death.
So, do Christians and Muslims worship the same God? Absolutely and unequivocally not.
Obviously, the problem Fischer now encounters is how to explain how Christians and Jews can possibly worship the same God when Jews, like Muslims, do not believe that "the God of the Bible has a Son."
Given that Fischer's group has reportedly spent several hundred thousand dollars to send dozens of members of the RNC on this trip to "stand with Israel because God does," we'd be really interested to hear Fischer's explanation of how Christians and Jews can worship the same God when, by his own standard for Islam, that does not appear to be the case at all.
After all, if Muslims are not entitled to First Amendment protections, according to Fischer, because they do not worship the same God as Christians, than neither do Jews, according to Fischer's own logic.
The AFA has attempted to distance itself from Fischer's views, but that does not answer the question as to why the RNC would agree to send dozens of members on a trip to Israel paid for by an organization that employs someone who argues that Jews in America are not entitled to First Amendment protections?
In an interview with “The View From a Pew” program, an Iowa-based webcast, Scott said that in addition to Jindal and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who hosted a “The Response” event in 2011, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley “has agreed” to host a rally and organizers are trying to convince Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to do the same.
On her own program, “Tamara Scott Live,” earlier in the week, Scott said that Gov. Rick Scott of Florida had sent a staff member to the Jindal event to investigate the possibility of holding a “The Response” rally himself and that Jindal had approached Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to ask him to consider holding one as well. Scott also expressed her hope that Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas would consider hosting a rally.
Scott told the “View from a Pew” hosts that such events are needed to save American from destruction, paraphrasing the biblical book of Jeremiah: “If I build up your nation and you fall away, I’ll destroy you…If I’m going to destroy you and you repent, I will heal your land and rebuild you.”
“If our federal government is not smart enough to stick to the foundational principles of those who set this country on the great start that it had by calling on the name of Jesus — George Washington to all the men on Mount Rushmore — if they were not smart enough to understand, then our states can do it individually,” she said on the earlier program.
The Jindal rally’s organizers have hinted that other governors may be planning similar events, writing in a recent email, “There is a sense that God may be orchestrating similar days of prayer and fasting called by Governors around the nation over this next year.” Although the event’s main organizer, David Lane, has allied with a number of top Republican figures, he has yet to name names of governors he hopes to convince to host “The Response” replicas.
Caiden Cowger is a 16-year-old, anti-gay, right-wing radio host who had his 15 minutes of fame a couple of years ago when he declared that President Obama was "making kids gay." Not surprisingly, this sort of rhetoric caught the ear of Bryan Fischer and he began to feature Cowger on his American Family Radio program on occasion as the two quickly formed a mutual admiration society.
Last week, the American Family Association stripped Fischer of his role as spokesman for the organization and issued a letter denouncing several statements that Fischer has made over the last several years and this is not sitting well with Cowger at all, as he has now fired off a post blasting the AFA for being "extremely unprofessional" by supposedly misrepresenting Fischer's views and becoming "compliant with liberal organizations":
Being a regular listener of Focal Point w/ Bryan Fischer, it is clear that his own organization (The American Family Association) took his words out of context and attempted to discredit his views. Vaughn inappropriately cited remarks that Fischer said on his radio show along with his own personal interpretations, and then stated that the American Family Association disagreed with his views on those specific matters. This was completely unnecessary, because all of Fischer’s statements are already disclaimed on his radio show at the end of every broadcast, that his views do “not necessarily reflect those of the American Family Association.”
If you also notice, the lawyer did not completely quote Fischer’s statements; quotations were used in the same sentence, along with interpretations. That was extremely unprofessional.
It appears that the American Family Association has become compliant with liberal organizations and while freedom of expression is still allowed on their radio network American Family Radio, it is no longer acceptable in their main organization.
The problem with conservatives is that we do not defend each other. Instead we blame each other for the successes of the progressives, as I feel also applies in this case.
We have contacted Mr. Vaughn for a statement regarding this matter, but are still waiting for a response.
In an interview Friday with the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore defended a letter he sent to Gov. Robert Bentley urging him to ignore a federal court ruling striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, saying that he was just like abolitionists and desegregationists standing up against the “rejection of God’s law by the federal judiciary.”
Moore told Rios that the case is similar to his famous defiance of a federal court order to remove a monument of the 10 Commandments from a court building because the 10 Commandments spat “symbolized the rejection of God’s law by the federal judiciary” and “now we see the institution of marriage that God ordained under sustained attack from federal judges":
Later in the interview, Rios asked Moore what he would say to Christians who are upset that he’s breaking the law by defying the federal courts.
“This is not against the law, this is for the law,” he said.
Moore, who in 2004 helped lead a campaign to preserve segregationist language in Alabama’s constitution, compared his stand against marriage equality to a defiance of federal courts on slavery or segregation. He added that he also puts abortion rights in that category, because “everybody recognizes Roe v. Wade is not in accordance with the Constitution”:
I think we’ve got to look back. Courts are not always perfect, Sandy. The United States Supreme Court is not always perfect. What would you have done in 1857 when they came out and said slaves were property. If you were a judge, would you have followed that opinion? Or in 1896, I think it is, in Plessy v. Ferguson, when they said that separate but equal was the policy that we had to adhere to, would you have followed it?
We’ve got to realize that courts, whether they’re federal, state, Supreme Court are not always perfect. And sometimes their rulings will contradict the Constitution, as did the United States Supreme Court opinion in Dred Scott, as it did in Plessy v. Ferguson, as it did in Roe v. Wade. Everybody recognizes Roe v. Wade is not in accordance with the Constitution, but you know, there it is as law. So I submit to you that we’ve got to look at these things very carefully.
RWW’s Paranoia-Ramatakes a look at five of the week’s most absurd conspiracy theories from the Right.
According to the right-wing media, Sharia law is gaining a foothold in Michigan, President Obama is blocking the sale of miracle drugs and Satan is commanding the gay rights movement. But Sarah Palin has uncovered the most menacing threat to America of them all: criticism of Sarah Palin.
According to Media Matters, one email to Erickson’s list claimed that the federal government is suppressing a miracle cancer cure that healed Ronald Reagan. Another warned that President Obama and the FDA could kill “over 45 million Americans…including you” because they are refusing to release a “secret” cure to cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
But 45 million deaths is low compared to the potential toll of another “Obama scandal” that a RedState sponsored email warned could “wipe out 281 million Americans.”
4) Fox News Helping … Hillary?
At least according to Sarah Palin. Upset that Fox News host Bill O’Reilly mocked the prospect of Palin and fellow reality television star Donald Trump running for president as a “reality show,” Palin charged that O’Reilly is trying to undermine the conservative movement just as it prepares to take on Hillary Clinton.
Palin fumed that “quasi-right” media outlets like Fox News should wake up to the fact that “this is a war” against Clinton and should help the GOP unify and “surface the competitor who can take on Hillary or whomever it may be and win for this country.”
Perkins recently spoke with Frank Gaffney, a fellow anti-Muslimconspiracytheorist, about the supposed rise of Sharia law in the U.S., and unsurprisingly, Gaffney joined in on the frenzy and referred to the city as “Dearbornistan.” He said the “Muslim-only” city of Dearborn has become a “ghetto” that is “too dangerous” to enter.
This might be news to the city’s residents, including one Army veteran who was able to find no shortage of stores selling haram goods like ham and liquor, along with a gentleman’s club, despite the claims of right-wing activists that the city is now imposing Sharia law.
2) Marriage Equality Turns Kids Into Government Property
A group of Catholic and Protestant leaders signed a statement this week warning that the legalization of same-sex marriage will lead “to the coercion and persecution of those who refuse to acknowledge the state’s redefinition of marriage, which is beyond the state’s competence.”
Signatories, including National Organization for Marriage founder Maggie Gallagher and prominent Proposition 8 supporter Rick Warren, warned that marriage equality for same-sex couples represents an even “graver threat” to society than divorce “because what is now given the name of marriage in law is a parody of marriage.”
By legalizing same-sex marriage, the statement reads, “a kind of alchemy is performed, not merely on the institution, but on human nature itself,” since same-sex marriage apparently “disregards the created order, threatens the common good and distorts the Gospel.” The statement even claims that marriage equality will turn children “in important legal respects, the property of the state.”
1) Gay Demonic Energy
American Family Radio host Bryan Fischer thinks that Satan makes people gay, so of course Fischer believes that Satan is also in command of the gay rights movement.
“I don’t think you will ever find a more directly demonic energy than when you deal with the homosexual agenda,” Fischer said this week. “They’re vicious. They are mean. You literally are staring into virtually the unvarnished energy of Satan himself when you come up against the forces that are pushing the homosexual agenda forward.”
Upset with the coverage of his comments, Fischer said that he feels bad for gay people, since they are “captives, prisoners of war” of Satan.
Today People For the American Way President Michael Keegan sent a letter to Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), urging him to cancel a planned trip to Israel for roughly 60 RNC members that is organized by Christian-nation extremist David Lane and funded by the anti-LGBT hate group the American Family Association (AFA).
Although we have no objection to RNC members travelling to Israel, we urge you not to collaborate with those who are funding and coordinating this trip. The American Family Association and Mr. Lane have made it clear that they view the Republican Party as a vehicle for ensuring that the U.S. government is operated by and for conservative Christians, at the expense of those of other faiths and no faith, and those Christians who do not share their particular beliefs.
Mr. Lane insists that the separation of church and state is a “fabricated whopper” meant to stop “Christian America — the moral majority — from imposing moral government on pagan public schools, pagan higher learning and pagan media” and has said that his “long-term strategy” is to place the Bible as “the principle [sic] textbook” in American public schools. Mr. Lane has also warned that an openly gay speaker at President Obama’s inauguration would provoke God to allow car bombings in major American cities.
The American Family Association also holds troubling views about the role of religion in American government and regularly promotes false smears against LGBT people. Although the AFA recently sought to distance itself from its own inflammatory spokesman, Bryan Fischer, it continues to offer him a prominent platform on its radio network, American Family Radio. And AFA still employs as its governmental affairs director Sandy Rios, who along with other radical statements, has warned that “powerful Jewish forces” are using groups like the American Civil Liberties Union to destroy America and just this week mocked the notion that “God is fond of atheist Jews who occupy the land in Israel.”
The American Family Association and David Lane have every right to promote these extreme views. However, it is troubling that a major political party is lending them legitimacy.
If GetReligion is going to criticize those who don't "tell both sides of the story" regarding the American Family Association's designation as a "hate group," perhaps GetReligion ought to actually bother to address the bigotry that regularly flows from the AFA which earned it that designation.
A couple of sociologists have "discovered" that a small group of "Americans demonstrate signs of anti-Christian hostility." That is some groundbreaking research!
J. Lee Grady is going to be sick! "We Americans get really angry when oil companies spill toxic fuel in our oceans; yet we applaud when Hollywood dumps a tanker of poisonous garbage like 'Fifty Shades of Grey' on our country—with no offer to clean up the damage. We should be outraged."
Larry Tomczak continues to try and milk his fifteen minutes of anti-gay infamy.
William Gheen wants to draft Jeff Sessions and Laura Ingraham for president and VP.
Finally, the devastating new report from the Justice Department is probably just further proof that the government is covering up the fact that it hacked Sharyl Attkisson's computers!
Yesterday, the American Family Association announced that it was stripping Bryan Fischer of his position as a spokesman for the group. The AFA's move to distance itself from Fischer’s regular barrages of bigotry apparently came in response pressure from its allies in the Republican National Committee, who are preparing to go on a tour of Israel on AFA's dime. (Though the fact that the group is retaining Fischer as a radio personality on its American Family Radio network makes the whole thing somewhat less convincing.)
In what seems to be part of this effort, AFA has sent the Southern Poverty Law Center a letter explicitly denouncing a laundry list of Fischer’s statements, from his blaming the Holocaust on gay people to his insistence that the First Amendment applies only to Christians.
But one statement in the letter stands out:
AFA rejects the policy advocated by Bryan Fischer that homosexual conduct should be illegal.
Really? Is AFA renouncing its support for criminal sodomy laws?
If the AFA has indeed changed its positions on criminal prohibitions on “homosexual conduct,” that would certainly be news! But we somehow wonder if this is yet another example of the group saying one thing to its critics while it continues to say another to its base.
After all, in 2003, when the Supreme Court was preparing to hear arguments in Lawrence v. Texas, the case that struck down state-level prohibitions on sexual relationships between consenting adults of the same sex, the AFA submitted an amicus brief [PDF] passionately defending such laws.
AFA’s attorneys urged the court to consider the “injury caused to the public by same-sex sodomy,” which it implied was more harmful than rape:
In addition to the concrete physical harms that can be caused by private vices, morals laws may prevent moral harm, both to the potential wrongdoer and to the community at large. Just as “[a] physical environment marred by pollution jeopardizes people’s physical health; a social environment abounding in vice threatens their moral wellbeing and integrity.” The injury caused to the public by same-sex sodomy was well understood in the past. Blackstone, having spent several pages immediately prior on rape and abduction, introduces the section on sodomy as dealing with an offense “of a still deeper malignity,” “the very mention of which is a disgrace to human nature.” Plainly, this crime is of a different magnitude. [citations removed for clarity]
AFA also warned that sodomy laws protect “the well-being of those engaged in the immoral behavior,” and that though they “may seem severe to those struggling with strong sexual urges” they will be “beneficial in the end”:
Another interest often overlooked in analysis of the issue of public harms occasioned by private immorality is that of the well-being of those engaged in the immoral behavior. The enormous price in terms of illness, disease and death resulting from the conduct…is well documented.
But even aside from the health issue, it has been almost universally recognized that restraint is the sine qua non for social harmony. “Human society requires the direction and restraint of many impulses. Few of those impulses are more powerful or unpredictable than sexual desire.” Laws such as [these] may seem severe to those struggling with strong sexual urges, but the restraint they encourage is beneficial in the end. American jurisprudence long ago rejected Hume’s notion that “reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions.” [citations removed]
The same year, AFA’s Ed Vitigliano wrote in the American Family Association Journal that a victory in Lawrence would be necessary to preserve “the notion of law and morality inherent in the Judeo-Christian worldview” and praised sodomy laws as deriving “from an older recognition of an orderly natural world, reflecting an intelligent design and, thus, purpose within nature, called natural law.”
Interestingly, the nation’s highest court will be revisiting in Lawrence and Garner v. Texas the same general issues dealt with in a previous Supreme Court case. In Bowers v. Hardwick (1986), a 5-4 high court majority upheld Georgia’s sodomy statute.
That narrowest of decisions, however, pitted two culturally distinct appraisals of morality and law against each other – and in fact provides a clear lesson about what has become known as the culture war.
Sadly, however, since 1986 the more traditional Judeo-Christian views which prevailed in Bowers have been steadily eroding in our culture, in favor of the more postmodern views of the minority in that case. Should the Supreme Court in Lawrence take an opposite view than it did in Bowers, that would mean – quite remarkably – that in the span of only 17 years, the notion of law and morality inherent in the Judeo-Christian worldview had been decreed, by unelected judges, obsolete.
Most sodomy laws have already disappeared anyway. In 1960, all 50 states had such laws on their books – now only 13 states do. However, the repeal of these laws – either by state legislatures or judges – indicates that the statutes represent a worldview that is rapidly being abandoned in favor of postmodern relativism. Sodomy laws derive from an older recognition of an orderly natural world, reflecting an intelligent design and, thus, purpose within nature, called natural law.
We look forward to seeing the AFA issue a full retraction of its previous support for criminalizing “homosexual conduct.” But we aren’t holding our breath.
Bryan Fischer kicked off his radio program today by refuting reports that he had been fired by the American Family Association, explaining that he has simply given up his role as an official AFA spokesman while retaining his role as a daily radio host for AFA's radio outlet, American Family Radio.
Fischer said that his designation as an AFA spokesman while he also served as a radio host was creating confusion and resulting in the personal opinions he expressed on the radio being unfairly attributed to the AFA. As such, Fischer will no longer serve as an official voice for AFA but will continue to spew his bigotry from the AFA's radio stations:
As we noted earlier today, this supposed change is utterly meaningless and does nothing to absolve the AFA of its responsibility for giving Fischer a national platform from which to spread his hate.
Of course, the AFA doesn't see it that way, having recently sent a letter to the Southern Poverty Law Center claiming that its radio network is "a free speech zone" and therefore AFA should not be held responsible for any of the things said on its programs.
AFA nonetheless did explicitly repudiate an array of bigoted claims Fischer that has made over the years, thereby insisting that no longer can Fischer's views be attributed to the organization:
AFA rejects the idea expressed by Bryan Fischer that "Free exercise of religion" only applies to Christians. Consequently, AFA rejects Bryan's assertions that Muslims should not be granted permits to build mosques in the United States;
AFA rejects the ideas expressed by Bryan Fischer that the violent expulsion of Native Americans was divinely ordained and that, "Superstition, savagery and sexual immorality" morally disqualified Native Americans from "sovereign control of American soil."
AFA rejects the ideas expressed by Bryan Fischer that "we" need to clamp down on immigration because Hispanics are socialist by nature and vote Democratic because it allows them to "benefit from the plunder of the wealth of the United States."
AFA rejects Bryan Fischer's characterization of minorities as "people who rut like rabbits."
AFA rejects the statement by Bryan Fischer that, "Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews."
AFA rejects the policy advocated by Bryan Fischer that homosexual conduct should be illegal
AFA rejects the notion advocated by Bryan Fischer that, "We need an underground railroad to protect innocent children from same-sex households."
AFA rejects Bryan Fischer's statement that, "If Hillary Clinton becomes president In 2016, she will not only be our first female president, she could be our first lesbian president."
In light of this notice, do not continue to charge AFA with the statements by Bryan Fischer that we have repudiated. When identifying "hate groups" in the context of training military or law enforcement personnel, do not put AFA in a false light by quoting Mr. Fischer's statements that we have repudiated.
The AFA will continue to provide Fischer with the staff, resources, and national outlet through which to share the views that AFA reportedly finds abhorrent ... but wants to do so without having to answer for all of the hatred that it is responsible for producing and promoting.
Sandy Rios, the American Family Association’s director of governmental affairs, said today that criticism of her organization’s role in financing a Republican National Committee trip to Israel is unfounded because Israel “could not have a better ally” than the AFA … despite the fact that God disapproves of the country’s “secular government” and is not “fond of atheist Jews” who live there.
“In terms of our teachings and our biblical understanding there could not be any more strong support for Israel than you find among people who understand and believe in the Bible and believe that God’s hand is on Israel, in spite of what’s happening there, in spite of its government,” she said. She mocked the notion “that God is in favor of a secular government or that God is fond of atheist Jews who occupy the land in Israel.”
“It is His land and I believe He will reclaim it in time,” Rios said.
Earlier this week, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore sent a letter to Alabama’s governor urging him to ignore a federal court ruling striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage because, he wrote, “the laws of our state have always recognized the Biblical admonition” against homosexuality.
Moore’s arguments may be legally questionable, but his stand against the federal courts seems to be catapulting him back into right-wing hero status that he hasn’t seen since he defied a court order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from his court’s rotunda.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins praised Moore for standing up against marriage equality, which he warned is a threat “not just to our nation’s stability, but to its very survival":
Federal judges may have the last word on marriage -- but they won’t have the final one. That’s becoming abundantly clear in Alabama, the latest state to feel the sting of a runaway court invalidating the will of the people on marriage. In a letter to Governor Robert Bentley (R-Ala.), Chief Justice Roy Moore made that quite clear -- explaining that this isn’t an issue that the federal courts will resolve. Rather, he said, it “raises serious, legitimate concerns about the propriety of federal court jurisdiction over the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment.”
Unelected judges and a handful of lawyers have been pushing state marriage amendments over like sleeping cows. Meanwhile, stunned Americans have struggled to make sense of a legal system that puts its own political agenda ahead of the expressed will of the people. Like most conservatives, FRC has watched in horror as the courts have robbed tens of millions of Americans of their voice on an issue of critical importance -- not just to our nation’s stability, but to its very survival.
State justices can, as Justice Moore has done, defy unconstitutional federal rulings which have overturned marriage amendments. Governors, such as Gov. Bentley, can defy unconstitutional federal rulings by forbidding county clerks to issue marriage licenses which would be in violation of the state constitution. (First Amendment law firms such as the Alliance Defending Freedom have pledged to defend pro bono any clerks who refuse to issue same-sex licenses on grounds of conscience.)
Such actions would most emphatically not represent civil disobedience, but rather the best in civil obedience. An elected official can hardly be charged with rebellion when he is simply fulfilling the oath he took before God to uphold both the federal constitution and the constitution of his own state.
Meanwhile, CitizenGo, a petition hub run in part by National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown, asked supporters to sign a petition commending Moore for "standing up against the federal tyranny that seeks to impose gay ‘marriage’ on the state of Alabama":
Chief Justice Roy Moore,
Thank you for standing up against the federal tyranny that seeks to impose gay "marriage" upon the state of Alabama. Your bold stand against the redefinition of marriage and the erosion of our nation's moral foundations is an inspiration.
I want you to know that I stand with you as you resist the federal government's unconstitutional demands regarding homosexual "marriage."
I encourage you to fulfill your duty as a lesser magistrate to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the great state of Alabama by resisting these unjust demands.
Meanwhile, the Foundation for Moral Law, the group that Moore led before returning to the Alabama Supreme Court and which is now run by his wife, hasn't reacted to Moore's letter. But the group did respond to the judge’s ruling by acknowledging that “Jesus loves” gay people but “homosexual conduct is still sin, and we must stand firm for what is right.”
“Alabamians approved the 2006 Sanctity of Marriage Amendment by 81% of the vote,” she said, “and the will of the people should not be lightly discarded in favor of an alleged right that is found nowhere in the Constitution.” She added that the Foundation bears no animus toward the plaintiffs in this case or in any other: “Jesus loves them, and He died for their sins as well as for mine. But homosexual conduct is still sin, and we must stand firm for what is right.”
Lane, who describes himself as a political operative who prefers working behind the scenes, shares Fischer’s view that God is preparing to violently punish America for its tolerance of homosexuality. Lane, like Fischer, also believes that gay Republicans and gay rights supporters in the GOP are dangerous figures who will help bring the country down. He has:
Favorably quoted a Christian author who said that “same-sex marriage practiced universally is suicide. To survive gays and lesbians are parasites, depending for their cultural survival on couples that birth the next generation.”
Explained why homosexuality is a threat to freedom: “Homosexuality is debauchery. God’s loyalty and fidelity — that guard the nation — make sustainable freedom dependent on seeking virtue.”
Predicted that homosexuality will lead to the destruction of America: “Homosexual desire and marriage is unnatural and — more so — is a symptom of advanced cultural decay and precursor to the collapse of the Republican Party and the nation.... The mark of a decadent society is the exaltation and normalization of sin — which leads to the death.”
Compared Republicans who support marriage equality to politicians who backed slavery in the run-up to the Civil War.
“What is our aim?” Lane asked in a 2013 op-ed. “One word only: victory, in spite of all intimidation and terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, America will ultimately collapse.”
He has set his sights at the separation of church and state, warning that “America is lost, one has to think through and devise a strategy to recapture our Christian heritage and reestablish our Christian culture.” Lane has also outlined his strategy to further entrench his radical ideology in the Republican Party by holding prayer rallies like “The Response,” sponsoring events featuring GOP leaders, known as “restoration” and “renewal” events or “pastor policy briefings,” and recruiting 1,000 pastors to run for elected office.
Urging conservatives to “wage war for the Soul of America and trust the living God to deliver the pagan gods into our hands,” Lane wants conservatives to embrace his exclusionary Christian Nationalist beliefs and abolish the separation of church and state. Lane:
Called the separation of church and state a “lie” and a “fabricated whopper” used to stop “Christian America – the moral majority – from imposing moral government on pagan public schools, pagan higher learning and pagan media.”
Congratulated a pastor for exposing Mitt Romney’s belief in the “false god of Mormonism” during the 2012 GOP primaries.
Lamented that the “‘religion of secularism’ has produced red ink as far as the eye can see, homosexuals praying at the Inauguration, tax-funded abortion, homosexual marriage in several States, Evangelicals held in contempt, and God expelled from the classrooms of America — and the public square.”
Last night it was reported that the American Family Association had finally fired the Religious Right's most notorious bigot, Bryan Fischer. While that would be welcome news, if true, the AFA has a long history of trying to salvage its own reputation by distancing itself from Fischer's unrelenting bigotry and this latest effort appears to be simply yet another attempt to whitewash the AFA's façade without making any genuine changes.
Back in 2009, Bryan Fischer was an obscure state-level Religious Right activist with a history of getting fired for his radical views. From his position as head of the Idaho Values Alliance, Fischer was mostly known for launching boycotts against Hallmark stores for offering cards for gay weddings and celebrating a fatal plane crash as God's payback for abortion.
Fischer's radicalism and bigotry were obvious even back then, but that didn't stop the American Family Association from wooing Fischer away from Idaho with an offer to serve as the organization's "director of issues analysis" and host a daily radio program down in Tupelo, Mississippi.
Within months of his arrival at AFA, Fischer was already using his national platform to spread his unmitigated bigotry, starting with his demand that all Muslims be banned from serving in the U.S. military, a position that he continues to steadfastly promote to this day.
Finally, in 2010, the AFA made a half-hearted attempt to wash its hands of Fischer's vile views ... not by firing him, mind you, but simply by adding a disclaimer at the end of Fischer's blog posts and radio program insisting that the things Fischer was saying on the AFA's website and radio network should not be taken to reflect the views of the organization:
Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.
Obviously, this was nothing but a pathetic cop-out, as we have pointed outseveral times before. The AFA plucked Fischer from obscurity, gave him a salary and a national platform from which to regularly proclaim that gays are Satanic perverts but then tried to pretend that it was not in any way responsible for Fischer or his views, such as:
Not surprisingly, Fischer's outrageous views and statements have causedproblems for the AFA and those with whom the AFA has partnered at events, most recently Gov. Bobby Jindal, who teamed up with the AFA for his "The Response" prayer rally last week. But through it all, the AFA has steadfastly insisted that Fischer does not speak for the organization while simultaneously standing by him and continuing to provide the platform from which he spreads his bigotry.
This weekend, some 60 members of the Republican National Committee are scheduled to go to Israel on a trip organized by Christian nationalist David Lane and funded by the American Family Association and it seems as if Fischer's radical views have suddenly become too much for the RNC and AFA to ignore, as last night Rachel Maddow reported that the AFA had fired Fischer:
From what we have been able to gather, Fischer has not actually been dismissed by AFA but has rather merely been stripped of his title as director of issues analysis and his role as spokesman for the organization. Fischer will reportedly continueto produce his daily radio program for the AFA's radio arm, American Family Radio.
If this is indeed the case, then the AFA has literally accomplished nothing with this stunt and has completely failed to distance itself from Fischer's utterly despicable views. The primary venues though which Fischer has managed to spread his bigotry for the last six years have always been owned, operated, and funded by the American Family Association and that relationship appears to remain intact.
Stripping Fischer of his title as AFA spokesman in no way alleviates the AFA of its responsibility for Fischer's toxic views given that the only reason Fischer even has a platform from which to spread those views is because AFA is providing it to him and paying him to spread them!
From the very start of Fischer's time at AFA, the organization has pathetically attempted to have it both ways: providing the very microphone from which Fischer speaks while simultaneously claiming that it bears no responsibility for the message that he sends.
The AFA's latest effort to rid itself of Fischer's rancid reputation is little more than a rhetorical accounting trick aimed at creating the false impression that the organization has wiped Fischer's bigotry off of its books.