American Family Radio

Sandy Rios Suggests Treating Refugee Kids Like Lepers, Warns They Will Cause Death 'In Huge Numbers'

On her American Family Radio program this morning, Sandy Rios joined fellow anti-immigrant activists in spreading overblown fears about diseases being carried by the Central American refugees at the southern border.

Rios suggested that the child refugees should be quarantined like lepers used to be. “I think of biblical times, the lepers were separated — right or wrong — they were separated,” she said. "It was understood that leprosy was so contagious. So there’s nothing wrong with wanting to separate your children. We used to quarantine people when they had diseases.”

“We’re such a healthy people that we’ve forgotten what it’s like to be diseased and die from those diseases in huge numbers,” she said, “but we’re going to learn, I think, again.”

She went on to lament that the children are being transported in the “same planes that you and I fly in.”

“How do we know about lice and disease before they get on public transportation?” she added.

Pratt: 'Racist' Holder Wants to Keep White People From Defending Selves Against 'Black Mobs'

Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt has been one of the most outspoken proponents of the popular right-wing theory that Trayvon Martin’s murder and the subsequent police inaction had nothing to do with race and that President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and others are the real racists for daring to talk about racial bias in the criminal justice system.

Pratt brought his argument today to the sympathetic audience of American Family Radio’s Tim Wildmon and Jim Stanley, telling them up front that “Holder is a racist.”

In fact, Pratt tells them, Holder is considering civil rights charges against George Zimmerman in order to “intimidate the rest of the country so that we don’t think about defending ourselves” against “attacks by black mobs on white individuals.”

He cites, of course, the phony scandal surrounding two members of the New Black Panther Party who stood briefly in front of a heavily-Democratic polling place in Philadelphia during the 2008 election – the Justice Department eventually dropped charges against the unarmed member of the pair, provoking a Fox News-driven storm of outrage. Holder later told members of Congress that the phony outrage and comparisons of the Philadelphia incident to systematic voter intimidation and suppression in the Jim Crow South did “a great disservice to people who put their lives on the line for my people.”

Pratt, of course, takes Holder’s “my people” quote unrecognizably out of context in order to suggest that the attorney general doesn’t “belong in this country” and should move to Cuba:

Rios: Public Schools 'Softening Children Up' for Predators

The American Family Association’s Sandy Rios claimed on her radio program yesterday that the gay rights movement is encouraging the “sexualization of our children in public schools” and “softening children up with sexual information way before they’re ready for it in order to prepare them for sexual activity, for predators.”

And even closer to home, Bobby, I think the case could be made, though I’m not sure I’ve made it on this program, that the sexualization of our children in public schools through the radical homosexual movement is really just a cousin to softening children up with sexual information way before they’re ready for it in order to prepare them for sexual activity, for predators. That’s what I think is happening in our public schools.

Rios offered her theory after a conversation with Robert Lopez, a bisexual anti-gay activist, who recalled his recent trip to France to participate in anti-marriage equality protests. Marriage equality, Lopez lamented, is “a dictatorship that is being imposed on the world.”

Those of us in the United States who are very concerned about the same-sex parenting and where that’s going are not alone. I think that there are countries all over Europe and all over the world where people feel increasingly that this is a dictatorship that is being imposed on the world. And I use the word ‘dictatorship’ very consciously because, you know, they tear-gassed children and they tear-gassed politicians who were elected officials behind me while I was at the march in Paris, and it was shameful.

Starnes and Rios: Gay Rights Opponents 'Second-Class Citizens,' Face 'Punishment' and 'Persecution'

Fox News commentator Todd Starnes joined Sandy Rios on American Family Radio yesterday to discuss the marriage equality cases being argued at the Supreme Court this week. The two took a grim view of the proceedings: Starnes lamented that opponents of gay rights have become “second-class” citizens and Rios warned that a Supreme Court marriage equality victory would lead to “tremendous punishment” for anti-gay activists.

“We are in for persecution like we have never seen,” she said, to which Starnes replied, “Well, it’s already started.”

Starnes: People are, people are very concerned about, about culture and about values and where things are going in this country. What concerns me, though, Sandy, is the vitriol coming from those who support gay marriage. You know, I’m the kind of person that is more than happy to sit down and talk and debate and listen to what people have to say. I may not agree with it, but at least, you know, it’s their right to have their opinion under our Constitution.

And yet, there seems to be this opinion on the other side that says, you know what, you and I don’t deserve the same rights. You know, it’s as if we’re second-class citizens now because we support the traditional, Biblical definition of marriage, or perhaps we are pro-life, and that means we’re somehow second-class citizens who don’t deserve to be in the public marketplace of ideas.

Rios: Absolutely. In fact, it’ll be worse than that. You know there’s going to be punishment. There will be tremendous punishment. If gay marriage is embraced by the country, if the Supreme Court goes south this week in its hearings, we are in for – of course, we’re not going to hear about it until June – but we are in for persecution like we have never seen it.

Starnes: Well, it’s already started.
 

Rios: Female Justices 'Rudely' Interrupting Scalia, 'Speaking Inappropriately'

The topic of discussion on Sandy Rios’ American Family Radio program Wednesday was diversity among federal judicial nominees. The Washington Post published a story over the weekend detailing President Obama’s largely successful effort to appoint more women, people of color and openly LGBT people to federal judgeships. The voice of dissent in the article was that of the Committee for Justice’s Curt Levey, who told the Post that the White House was “lowering their standards” in nominating nonwhite judges. So naturally, Rios invited Levey on as a guest and explained to him why she disapproves of President Obama’s diverse judicial nominations.

In particular, Rios disapproves of Obama’s Supreme Court nominees, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, respectively the third and fourth women ever to sit on the high court. Sotomayor and Kagan, Rios says, have been forgetting their place and behaving “rudely,” “interrupting” and “speaking inappropriately” to, of all people, Justice Antonin Scalia.

While Levey correctly notes that “Scalia can give it out as well as take it,” he agrees with Rios that Sotomayor, the Supreme Court’s first Latina justice, “has occasionally, at least, stepped over the line.” In particular, he says Sotomayor – who he once accused of supporting “violent Puerto Rican terrorists” --  “sort of lost it” during arguments on the Voting Rights Act, when she contradicted Scalia’s stunning assertion that the law represents a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”

In fact, while Scalia’s bombast provoked audible gasps in the hearing room, Sotomayor waited several minutes before calmly asking the attorney challenging the Voting Rights Act, “Do you think that the right to vote is a racial entitlement in Section 5?"

Later, Rios, with an impressive lack of self-awareness, marvels that progressive groups criticized Scalia for his remarks. “Groups on the left,” Levey responds, “shall we say, like to personalize things.”

Rios: I read an article that Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, at least this article was intimating that they are behaving in a – these are my words – sort of rudely on the bench, to Scalia and to others, interrupting, speaking inappropriately. Have you observed that? Do you know what I’m talking about and is that true?

Levey: Um, yeah. I mean, you know, Scalia can give it out as well as take it, but yeah, Sotomayor has gone over the line a number of times. Most recently in the Voting Rights Act case, which was just last week, where, you know, Scalia had the nerve to speak the truth and refer to the Voting Rights Act as “racial preferences,” which of course is what it’s become by guaranteeing that there be minority districts formed, minority congressional districts. And, you know, Sotomayor sort of lost it when Obama [sic] said that, interrupted and you know, basically made fun of Scalia’s comment. So yeah, I think they have the right to be aggressive up there, but Sotomayor has occasionally, at least, stepped over the line.

Rios: And on the Voting Rights Act and Scalia’s comments, you know, there were demonstrators at the Court last week, hundreds of them, demonstrating against Antonin Scalia. I don’t remember that happening. I don’t remember a Supreme Court justice – doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened – but I don’t remember it being a subject of public demonstrations.

Levey: No. Typically they will, you know, they’ll, protestors at the Supreme Court will focus on issues, not justices. But you know, that changed of late. There’s been in the last two years a lot of, you know, progressive groups have gone personally after Scalia and especially Thomas and his wife. But you know, we see that in so much of politics, that groups on the left like to, shall we say, personalize things.

Rios: Yeah, as like in Alinsky, yes, personalize and target, yeah, so we are seeing some very new things and actually pretty dangerous I think.

Earlier in the program, Rios and Levey lamented the fact that President Obama has had more openly LGBT people confirmed to the federal bench than all of his predecessors combined. Echoing right-wing arguments made against Romney advisor Richard Grennell, who was forced to resign last year after less than a month on the job, Rios claimed she didn’t mind that the president was appointing gay people to federal judgeships, but that they are “activists who are trying to change the law.”

Levey: You know, I don’t have any problem with him nominating gay and lesbian nominees. The problem is that they should be gay and lesbian nominees who respect the Constitution. You know, there are…

Rios: I don’t disagree, Curt, just for the record, I don’t disagree with that. It’s the activists, activists who are trying to change the law that I will have trouble sitting on the bench.

Levey: Exactly. He’s not appointing, you know, conservative or even moderate, you know, gay Americans, he’s appointing very radical gay Americans. And, you know, again, it’s not so much any individual nominee as it is the pattern here. Of the 35 or so nominees who are pending now, only six are straight white males, even though about half the legal profession is straight white males. So, do straight white males have some, you know, right to a certain number of seats? Of course not. But if you were doing it in a balanced way without any preference for minorities of various types, then you’d probably wind up with about 17 or 18 of those 35 being straight white males. The fact that there’s only six tells us that there’s a system of preferences going on.

Fischer Family Values: 'How Bryan Fischer Turned on a Friend'

Last week we told you about an excellent profile of Bryan Fischer in the New Yorker and Fischer’s predictably over-the-top and inaccurate attacks on the article and author, Jane Mayer. In the wake of those attacks, Mayer has posted a follow-up blog post, “Have Not Love: How Bryan Fischer Turned on a Friend,” that sets the record straight and explores the twisted family values of Fischer, a so-called family values advocate: 

As I worked on my profile of the influential conservative radio-host Bryan Fischer, I was struck by the difference between the “pro-family” values he espouses and some of the choices he has made in his own life. For example, Fischer has not seen his only sibling in something like a decade—a sister with serious health problems who lives on social security and welfare disability payments. Perhaps more revealing, though, is the broken friendship between Fischer and another conservative Christian activist, Dennis Mansfield.
 
After the article came out, Fischer accused me of misrepresenting an anecdote concerning his relationship with Mansfield. Since then, Mansfield has weighed in on his own blog to defend the accuracy of the New Yorker story, and expanded on what he calls Fischer’s “divisive” politics as a dead end for this country.
Mansfield, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress, parted ways with Fischer after his son was arrested for drug possession:
The public arrest torpedoed Mansfield’s congressional bid. More importantly, he says, the episode, and the subsequent humility he learned from his son’s struggle, caused him to reëxamine the way in which he was using his Christian faith as a cudgel in politics. As Mansfield told me, he concluded that “faith-based conservatives are either purposefully or inadvertently looking punitively at other people” rather than “lifting each other up.”
 
While Mansfield’s family crisis caused him to reassess his earlier self-righteousness, Fischer, he says, reacted to it heartlessly, and told Mansfield that he was no longer fit to be an elder at the church where Fischer was preaching, the Community Church of the Valley, in Boise, Idaho. 
Writing on his blog last Thursday, Mansfield said this about Fischer:
Pushing your own agenda using the veil of religion has been used all throughout history. Today is no exception, and individuals in the evangelical community do it as much as anyone else. When someone wraps their own hate speech in a "god blanket" it makes it easier for a subset of people to accept, and eventually it may even gather a following. The problem is that anyone outside of that subset is turned away from not only that particular subset, but from the entire religion.
Mayer sees echoes in the generational divide within the evangelical community of Fischer and Mansfield’s opposing outlooks:
The contrast between Mansfield’s message and Fischer’s in some ways captures a larger split within the evangelical Christian movement, concerning how much tolerance to show towards those who in the past may have been treated as outliers, including homosexuals. Polls of younger evangelicals, like those of younger voters of almost all stripes, show growing acceptance of gay rights, including same-sex marriage. Times, and attitudes, are changing.
Let’s hope she’s right about the younger generation being more like Mansfield than Fischer.

 

Bryan Fischer in the New Yorker: Extreme, Rigid and the Product of a Broken Home

The New Yorker is out with an excellent new piece by Jane Mayer that explores how Bryan Fischer came to be the bigoted firebrand known so well to readers of this blog. Over the years we’ve covered a seemingly endless stream of outrages by Fischer, who serves as American Family Association’s Director of Issue Analysis and host of “Focal Point” on AFA’s radio network. Yet Fischer only recently emerged on the national scene when he led the successful effort to oust an openly gay spokesman from the Romney campaign.

The New Yorker profile, appropriately titled “Bully Pulpit,” is Fischer’s first national media close-up, and the results are none too pretty. Mayer spoke with former and current friends and co-workers of Fischer, and the portrait that consistently emerges is of an extreme and rigid man who consistently drives friends away and is compensating, to this day, for childhood traumas.
 
                 (Photo by Alec Soth for the New Yorker)         
 
As you would expect, the article includes a number of outrageous and offensive remarks and claims made by Fischer, both to Mayer and previously (many of which were first reported on this blog). Here are some notable examples from the profile:
  • “Fischer declared that ‘homosexuality gave us Adolf Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine, and six million dead Jews.’
  • “Like the saying goes, ‘I’ve never met an ex- black, but I’ve met a lot of ex-gays.’ If one person can do it, two people can do it.”
  • “He then denied, as he does routinely, that H.I.V. causes AIDS, calling it a ‘harmless passenger virus.’”
  • “Fischer thinks that Islam is a violent religion, and argues that Muslims should be stopped from immigrating and barred from serving in the U.S. military. He believes that the country was a Christian nation when the Bill of Rights was written, and therefore non-Christians ‘have no First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion.’ He has said that Native Americans are ‘morally disqualified’ from ruling America, and that African-American welfare recipients ‘rut like rabbits.’”
  • “Obama, he has said, ‘despises the Constitution” and “nurtures a hatred for the white man.’”
  • “Fischer advised a caller that, in some instances, a child as young as six months could be spanked.”
Readers who are already familiar with Fischer’s extremism will likely be much more interested in the details about how he came to be what he is today, starting with his upbringing and relationship with his parents:
Fischer’s political activism, however, began years before the advent of same-sex-marriage laws. In fact, his preoccupation with family dysfunction seems to have started with his own. Though Fischer loves to talk, he does not like to talk about his childhood, and spoke about it only grudgingly. He was born in Oklahoma City, in 1951, and his father, John, a descendant of German Mennonites, was a Conservative Baptist minister whose pacifism was so strict that he became a conscientious objector during the Second World War—a choice that makes Fischer uncomfortable. […]
 
Fischer didn’t volunteer anything about his mother, but, when pressed, said, “My parents divorced when I was about twenty. It just rocked my world.” His mother, who worked as an interior decorator at a furniture store, was “chronically late,” and the bus driver on her route to work would always hold the bus for her. Eventually, he said, “my mom fell for the bus driver,” deserting him, his father, and his younger sister. “I don’t want to go into it,” Fischer said. “But I saw the devastating impact it had on other people in my immediate family.” Asked how his father fared, Fischer turned away, then said, “He looked like an Auschwitz survivor. It was akin to that ordeal.”
 
Dennis Mansfield, a Christian conservative who was friends with Fischer for twenty years, said that Fischer also “had a deep-rooted disappointment in his father, for not being strong enough.”
Later, as a student at Stanford, Fischer gravitated to David Roper, a chaplain at the school, and began attending his evangelical church in Palo Alto. Fischer told Mayer that he was attracted by the “manliness” of the church: “It was the first time I’d been around a real muscular Christianity,” he told me. “It had a kind of strength and virility to it that would appeal to men.” Roper told Mayer he found this characterization “odd” and is no longer close to Fischer.
 
Manliness and strength continued to be major forces – and sources of strife – in Fischer’s life. Roper left Palo Alto in 1978 and recruited Fischer and Terry Papé, a fellow student, to join him in Boise after they graduated. In 1993, Roper retired and chose Papé to lead the congregation, passing over Fischer, who was crushed. Manliness was to blame:
“Bryan was very popular when he came to Cole,” Papé recalled. “But, over time, those relationships were strained, because of his very strong personality. When it comes to his perspective, it’s very difficult to get him to budge. He loves a good argument, but he doesn’t like being persuaded he might be wrong.” In 1993, Fischer was crushed when Roper retired and endorsed a different successor. […]
 
But friction had grown between the two men—and between Fischer and the congregation— over various doctrinal issues. “The central issue was gender,” Fischer told me. The church, he said, had “adopted policies that would have allowed women to exercise authority over men.” He opposed this, citing the Apostle Paul.
Fischer then started his own church in Boise, the Community Church of the Valley, and pursued a hard line on gender and family issues:
In church, Fischer preached that it might be preferable if Americans married upon becoming sexually mature. “I’m not saying go out and get your fifteen-year-old engaged,” he said. But he argued that “we have artificially delayed the age at which people are expected to marry,” and observed, “Mary, the mother of Christ, was probably a teen-ager when she was betrothed to Joseph.” In another sermon, he preached that women were equal to men in worth but “not equal in authority.”
 
“Somebody’s got to have the tie-breaking vote,” he explained to me. “According to God, that’s the husband and father.”
Fischer was appointed in 2001 as the chaplain of the Idaho Senate and began developing a statewide reputation for hard-right political activism. He also alienated many people, including Dennis Mansfield, an elder at his church and a longtime friend, who told Mayer about a pattern he noticed over the years: Fischer would “develop a closeness to a friend and then, as soon as they had a disagreement, they’d be cut adrift.”
 
Four years later, Fischer was kicked out on the street by his own congregation – again manliness was to blame:
“It was the gender issue again,” Fischer told me. “Because of my Scriptural convictions, I wasn’t able to budge. A female friend of the wife of an elder wanted a leadership role. I felt those roles should be reserved for men… . When I objected, they said, ‘You’re fired.’ It was very abrupt. I didn’t know what I was going to do next. It was very painful.” 
Fischer then fell into full-time political activism, founding the Idaho Values Alliance, which in 2007 became the state chapter of the American Family Association. Two years later he moved to Tupelo, MS to take on his current roles at AFA’s headquarters, which features a “statue of a fetus enshrined in a heart and a shoulder-high stone tablet inscribed with the Ten Commandments” out front.
 
Mayer’s profile provides an interesting look inside AFA, the tax-exempt and supposedly nonpartisan organization behind American Family Radio, which “comprises two hundred stations in thirty-five states.” At one point, Fischer’s producer began laughing after saying that “we have to be careful, because we’re not allowed to endorse.”
 
Mayer also relays a story about how AFA president Tim Wildmon texted Fischer during an on-air tirade about Newt Gingrich’s infidelities to warn him that “he might be alienating listeners.” This anecdote caught my attention because we’ve noted instances in the past where AFA has censored and edited Fischer’s articles on their website. Could it be that Fischer is on course to alienate yet another friend and benefactor? Only time will tell.

 

Mitt Romney Caved to the Religious Right and This is the Thanks He Gets

Last week, in response to pressure from the Religous Right -- much of which was documented by PFAW's Right Wing Watch -- the Romney campaign forced out an openly gay spokesman who had been on the job for less than two weeks.

While the Romney campaign attempted to deny that right-wing pressure led to the spokesman's resignation, news reports suggested that that is exactly what happened.

But Romney's effort to appease the anti-gay right didn't even work. Right Wing Watch caught a clip of the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer, the leading critic of the candidate's decision to hire an openly gay spokesperson, criticizing Romney for listening to him. "How is he going to stand up to North Korea if he can be pushed around by a yokel like me?" Fischer demanded.

Earlier this week, Lawrence O'Donnell played and discussed the Fischer clip on his show. Watch:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

PFAW

Santorum Appears on Extremist Talk Show – Love Fest Ensues

Rick Santorum has demonstrated, yet again, his willingness to associate with people whose views are repugnant to most Americans. This afternoon he appeared on one of the most extreme Religious Right programs in the country – American Family Radio’s Focal Point with Bryan Fischer.

Fischer, the Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association, has been accused of crossing the line against “decency and civility” and of using “poisonous language” – by none other than Mitt Romney at the Values Voters Summit, who was trying to cautiously distance himself from Fischer’s repeated attacks on his Mormon faith while still courting the Religious Right. Later in January, Fischer claimed that a electing a Mormon president would threaten the “spiritual health” of the country.
 
But Fischer isn’t only out to get Mormons. He has an extensive history of bigotry against groups like Muslims (who are stupid because of inbreeding), gays and lesbians (who are responsible for Holocaust), Native Americans (who are “morally disqualified” from controlling land) , low-income African Americans (who “rut like rabbits”), and basically anyone who isn’t a “real” Christian. Fischer has also likened President Obama to Adolf Hitler and called him a tyrant who has a “hatred for the United States” and a “hatred for the white man.”
 
That brings us to Rick Santorum, who is hoping today’s appearance on American Family Radio will help him reach right-wing voters in Alabama, Mississippi and Kansas – the next states to vote in the GOP primary. He even gave a shout-out to the Deep South at the top of the interview: “We spent yesterday in Mississippi and Kansas and today we’re in Alabama. I’ll tell ya, there’s just nothing friendlier than the Deep South. We’re just enjoying the heck out of it here.”
 
Santorum knew he would be warmly received, and the interview was nothing short of a lovefest. Fischer gushed that his wife was a Santorum supporter from back when “being a Rick Santorum fan wasn’t cool,” and Santorum responded in kind: “We appreciate all the help and support. We were in your home town there, Tupelo, yesterday, and had a great reception from folks.”
 
Listening to Fischer and Santorum talk, it was clear that both men have very similar world views. For instance, Santorum told Fischer that President Obama ignores the Constitution and “believes he is more of an emperor than a president.”
 
Their conversation reminded me of a compliment Fischer gave Santorum just two weeks ago on his show:
 
This ought to be a tremendous encouragement to all of us that the leading candidate for the GOP nomination sounds like he’s hosting a conservative talk radio program.
 
Ladies and gentlemen, where do you hear anybody on the campaign trail talk like Rick Santorum talks? He sounds much more like he’s hosting a program on AFR Talk.
 
On that point, I’m in full agreement with Fischer. Santorum does sound like a Religious Right talk show host, and while that may help him in the GOP Primary, it’s also why he’ll never be president of the United States.
 
You can watch the full Santorum interview on Focal Point here:
 
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