This is the first post in a four-part series exploring how American right-wing groups have supported Russia’s recent spate of anti-gay laws and its crackdown on LGBT citizens.
This summer, as part of a larger effort to channel political dissatisfaction by scapegoating minorities, the Russian government escalated its crackdown on the rights of gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual citizens. President Vladimir Putin and his allies found support and guidance in their anti-gay efforts from a group eager for an opportunity to notch some victories in the battle against LGBT freedom and equality: the American right.
On June 11, the Russian Duma passed a law banning “propaganda” about homosexuality to minors, essentially a gag rule criminalizing any advocacy for LGBT equality. (Moscow had already instituted a 100-year ban on gay pride parades.) Weeks later, on July 3, Putin signed a bill banning the adoption of Russian children by same-sex couples abroad and by single people in countries that allow marriage equality. Shortly afterward, a member of the Duma proposed a law that would revoke gay people’s custody of their biological children. The bill’s sponsor said in an interview that children would be better off in orphanages than with a gay mother or father.
Russia’s crackdown on LGBT people comes amidst a broad crackdown on the rights of minorities and political dissenters or, in the words of one lawmaker, a campaign “to defend the rights of the majority.” On the same day the Duma passed its ban on gay “propaganda,” it also approved a harsh anti-blasphemy law promising jail time for “offending religious feelings.” The blasphemy measure was meant to strenghthen the laws that led to the political prosecution of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot, whose members were sentenced to two years in a penal colony for a performance that was deemed to offend “religious sensibilities.”
Russia’s repression of LGBT people and the Pussy Riot case have provoked an international outcry, intensified by the the country’s role as the host of next year’s winter Olympics.
But throughout all this, one group has cheered on Putin’s actions: the American Religious Right and its international allies.
Even as tensions have grown between Russia and the United States, several Religious Right leaders have spoken loudly in favor of Putin’s crackdowns on gay people and political dissenters:
American conservative groups haven’t just praised Russia’s crackdown on gays. Working through several channels, American anti-gay activists quietly provided intellectual backing and international support that directly and indirectly fueled the resurgent anti-gay movement in Russia and in other former Soviet states like Lithuania, Moldova and Ukraine.
In a series of posts today and tomorrow, we’ll look at how American activists influenced Russia’s anti-gay laws by funding anti-gay activism in Russia, testifying before the Duma, providing false research to fan the flames of anti-gay laws abroad, and building an international movement to back the harshest anti-gay laws around the world.
Seizing upon a video of some guy telling anti-abortion activists that he wants to live in a world "where all your churches burn," Bryan Fischer repeated his warning that the Left will soon start forcing Christians to wear identifying patches and do to them exactly what the Nazis did to the Jews.
Asserting that liberals are "the most totalitarian, close-minded ... intolerant bigots that you can find," Fischer warned his listening audience today that "if secular fundamentalists ever get the power, they will eliminate us from public society" by requiring Christians to wear identification markers, forcing them into ghettos, and banning them from running businesses, voting, or holding any sort of public office:
American Family Association radio hosts have a tendency to ignore real journalism and instead to rely on chain emails to back up their absurd conspiracy theories, including claims that Obamacare has a special exemption for Muslims and that President Obama wears a secret Muslim wedding ring.
Last week on Focal Point, AFA spokesman Bryan Fischer mentioned a right-wing chain email that says Japan bans mosques, Qurans and Muslim immigration — all of which are measures that Fischer supports wholeheartedly.
“Japan does not allow any Muslims to immigrate there,” Fischer said. “They cannot become Japanese citizens, the Quran is not permitted in the country of Japan, the teaching of Islam is not permitted in the country of Japan, no mosques are permitted in the country of Japan. If that information is correct, that’s one nation that’s got its eyes open.”
Of course, none of this matters to Fischer, who will likely continue to point to this chain email’s claims about Japan as a model for the United States to harshly curtail religious freedom and ban Islam.
American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer, who believes that Muslims worship “a demon God,” alleged today on Focal Point that Satan is using Islam to usher in the End Times. He corrected a caller who said he “thought about getting rid of Islam but it says in the Bible that if we get rid of Islam then the one-world government is going to move in and the bankers are backing up the one-world government,” telling him that, to the contrary, Islam is the “one-world counterfeit religion” prophesied in the Bible.
“That’s part of the End Times mix is Satan is always working to form a one-world government but he’s also working at the same time to get the entire world devoted to a counterfeit religion,” he continued.
Fischer said that while he can’t say for sure if we are living in the Last Days, Islam will be the false, universal religion that will usher in the apocalypse: “If we are in the Last Days, then Islam is clearly the religion that Satan is promoting to be the counterfeit alternative to Christianity.”
Is it possible that Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, has never heard AFA spokesperson Bryan Fischer’s radio show? Of course not. But that leaves only less charitable explanations for the level of a) cluelessness and b) disingenuousness revealed in the October issue of AFA’s magazine.
In his column, Wildmon describes a disagreement he had with Christian author Os Guinness during a recent interview:
He said that Christian young people are leaving the faith because of the “ugliness of Christian activism.” I asked him for an example of what he was talking about, and he cited a video that went around the Internet a couple of years ago that included clips from President Obama’s comments which would lead the viewer to believe Obama is a Muslim. Os said basically that this video was slanderous.
I told him I believed his example to be weak because that video was not produced by an mainstream pro-family or Christian group. My personal opinion is it is Obama himself who has created the suspicion among one out of four Americans that he is a secret Muslim. I have no idea if he is or not. I just know that many of his statements and actions have been extremely positive and sympathetic toward Islam.
So, Wildmon has “no idea” if Obama is a secret Muslim, but says the idea that he might be was not put out there by a “mainstream pro-family or Christian group.”
Now, where in the world would people get the idea that Obama might be Muslim?
"Is President Obama ... taking advantage of that doctrine of taqiyya?" Fischer asked. "Is he pretending to be a Christian, falsely and taking cover under the doctrine of taqiyya because his role as the president is advancing the cause of Islam? I mean, who knows?"
Tim Wildmon, meet Bryan Fischer, who has told his listeners that he believes the discredited right-wing theory that Obama’s wedding ring contains an inscription reading “there is no God but Allah” which, Fischer says, the mainstream media has ignored because it could raise the possibility “that Barack Obama may, in fact, be a closeted Muslim.”
There’s more. Fischer says President Obama is heading “the most virulently anti-Christian, anti-Christ, anti-God administration we’ve ever had in American history” and is leading “a purge of Christians from the military.” Fischer has accused President Obama of having a “visceral dislike of America” and a desire to destroy America. Fischer says “whether he’s a Muslim or not, we may not know that until it’s too late to matter, but he clearly has Muslim sympathies, far more sympathetic to Islam than he is to Christianity…” In the same show, Fischer said an Egyptian foreign minister claims that Barack Obama confided that he is a secret Muslim.
Back to Wildmon, who says later in his column,
To be fair to Os, his main point in our conversation was that as Christians we should be doing “the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way.” Meaning, we need to be honest and treat our philosophical and political detractors as the Bible commands us to treat any other person – with love and respect.
I agree with that.
Wildmon also asserts that “there is nothing ugly about the Christian activism that American Family Association engages in.”
Really? Honesty, love and respect are not exactly hallmarks of the Bryan Fischer oeuvre. In fact, as our in-depth report on Fischer and our ongoing coverage of his rantings document, AFA spokesman and radio host Fischer is one of the biggest purveyors of dishonest, divisive, disrespectful, and outright bigoted rhetoric in the public arena today.
Citing 1 Kings 18, where Elijah engaged in a showdown against the prophets of Baal, Fischer declared that "our Elijah today, confronting the prophets of Baal, is Ted Cruz and last night was his showdown on Mount Carmel."
Just like Elijah, who stood there "all day to defend the truth, to defend God, to stand for what is right," Fischer said, "last night was Ted Cruz's Elijah moment":
Fortunately for the other members of the Senate, Cruz didn't take his "Elijah moment" all the way to its Biblical conclusion:
And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.
A transgender California teenager has been a target of bullying after she was named her high school’s homecoming queen, and now American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer has joined in the backlash against the sixteen-year-old. Fischer called her election as homecoming queen a “charade” that “violates every known standard of decency and normality.”
He has a mental illness, he thinks he’s a girl and they elected him homecoming queen and the school officials allowed this charade to go on. That violates everything we know about gender, about sex, about genetics, about biology, about human health, about what mental health is, it violates every known standard of decency and normality in America.
Fischer also criticized CBS News for using the correct pronouns in their story on the high school girl.
Scott Lively was the guest on Bryan Fischer's radio program yesterday, and while, unfortunately, they did not discuss Lively's theory that President Obama is the Antichrist, they did discuss their mutual admiration for Russia's anti-gay crackdown.
Lively told Fischer that while he did not play a direct role in drafting the legislation, he does believe that a tour he made through Russia a few years back where he urged the implementation of just these sorts of laws served as a catalyst for legislation.
"I indirectly assisted in that," Lively said, "and it's one of the proudest achievements of my career":
Earlier this week, Bryan Fischer hosted Peter LaBarbera on his radio program and we didn't write a post about it which, according to Fischer and his producer, Jeff Reed means ... something.
Fischer, who normally complains that we are "cyberstalking" him, is now complaining that we are not posting clips from his show because supposedly the topic of HIV rates among young males does not fit our agenda.
Of course, we did actually mention LaBarbera's appearance on Fischer's show in our daily Right Wing Leftovers post. In fact, if you scroll through our Bryan Fischer archive, you will find dozens of instances where we just dumped his nonsense in a Leftovers post because, shocking as this may be to Fischer, not every single thing that he says is something that deserves a blog post.
But sometimes he does say things that we think deserve highlighting, such as his declaration today that he appreciates our efforts to help him "get the word out" about his insanely bigoted views:
We are always happy to help.
While American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer is confident that Americans would never elect Hillary Clinton as president because she is simply “too old” and “too saggy,” he now says that if Clinton should win, then she might be the “first lesbian president.”
Fischer pointed to an interview between Gennifer Flowers and the UK-based Daily Mail in which she claims that Bill Clinton told her that Hillary is bisexual, and therefore it isn’t out of the question that she may be having an affair with aide Huma Abedin.
Since Fischer accepts pure speculation from whatever source as indisputable fact so long as it fits his agenda, it is no surprise that he now claims that “the bottom line is that if Hillary Clinton becomes president in 2016 she will not only be our first female president she could be our first lesbian president.”
Fellow AFA radio host Sandy Rios leveled a similar charge earlier this year after Clinton released a video endorsing marriage equality. Rios suggested that the former Secretary of State might be a lesbian since she has a “love of homosexuality.”
As we noted just last week, Bryan Fischer does not bother with things like having evidence or even knowing what he is talking about before going off on an rant on his radio program on some issue that he obviously does not understand.
Like Glenn Beck, Fischer too seized on a report that President Obama had waived prohibitions in the Arms Export Control Act so that the US can provide chemical weapons assistance to Syria and used it to raise the possibility of impeachment:
Don't miss the significance of this, ladies and gentlemen. We have a president who is breaking the law. He has no authority to waive this law. He can't do that. Congress is responsible to pass laws; his job is the execute them, not to write them, not to amend them, not to modify them, not to ignore them. His job is to implement them, execute them. That is why he heads up the Executive Branch.
Congress passes legislation and he's the one that implements it, he's the one that puts it into practice. He has no authority, no liberty, no moral right or constitutional right or legal right or ethical right to change the laws that are given to him by Congress ... I mean, ladies and gentlemen, I don't want you to miss the significance of this; we have a president that is breaking the law in order to aid and abet terrorists
The only problem is that Fischer's entire case is built on nothing but his own ignorance because, as we pointed out before, the legislation explicitly gives the president the power to waive certain prohibitions:
The President may waive the prohibitions contained in this section with respect to a specific transaction if (1) the President determines that the transaction is essential to the national security interests of the United States; and (2) not less than 15 days prior to the proposed transaction, the President
—(A) consults with the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate; and (B) submits to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate a report containing
—(i) the name of any country involved in the proposed transaction, the identity of any recipient of the items to be provided pursuant to the proposed transaction, and the anticipated use of those items; (ii) a description of the munitions items involved in the proposed transaction (including their market value) and the actual sale price at each step in the transaction (or if the items are transferred by other than sale, the manner in which they will be provided); (iii) the reasons why the proposed transaction is essential to the national security interests of the United States and the justification for such proposed transaction; (iv) the date on which the proposed transaction is expected to occur; and (v) the name of every United States Government department, agency, or other entity involved in the proposed transaction, every foreign government involved in the proposed transaction, and every private party with significant participation in the proposed transaction.
Contrary to Fischer's bold and repeated assertions that President Obama has "no authority to waive this law," he most certainly does as the law itself gives him that authority.
It never fails to amaze us just how willing right-wing commentators like Fischer are to publicly rant and rave in this manner about topics that they literally do not understand.
Bryan Fischer began a segment on his radio broadcast today explaining that there are lots of Americans who love gays but are just "grossed out by what homosexuals do" and "want to see them delivered from the bondage and the deception and the darkness and the perverseness of that lifestyle."
In fact, Fischer explained, these folks love gays so much that it saddens them to see people "falling prey to that disease; there's a sickness there, there is a pathology associated with homosexual behavior."
"You know," Fischer added, "these are not happy people. They are not well-adjusted people and it just breaks your heart to see what this perverted sense of sexuality is doing to them" because it is "destroying their humanity."
And while Fischer insisted that he and his ilk really love gays, he also wonders "when are the American people just going to have it up to here with this flaunting of sexual perversity? When are they just going to say enough is enough, we've had it, no more. We're tired of being pushed around, we're tired of being bullied, we're tired in the name of tolerance allowing things that are absolutely vile, absolutely offensive to any sense of decency":