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.
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.”
“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.
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.”
“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.”
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant today appeared on American Family Radio’s Today’s Issues with American Family Association president Tim Wildmon and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins where he defended a new Mississippi law that could close the state’s one abortion clinic. As noted in a People For the American Way report, “The War on Women,” Bryant signed a TRAP bill, or targeted regulations of abortion providers, that is meant to impose “unnecessary and burdensome regulations on physicians who perform abortion services” and shut down the only abortion clinic in the state by making it more difficult for the clinic to employ doctors who live outside the state:
The state’s Republican lieutenant governor, Tate Reeves, boasted that the TRAP bill would “effectively close the only abortion clinic in Mississippi” by preventing the clinic from relying on out-of-state physicians. The clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, depends on out-of-state physicians because many doctors who live in Mississippi face constant harassment and threats of violence.
Bryant, a major supporter of the state’s unsuccessful personhood amendment, now wants to stop women from exercising their right to choose after failing to eliminate that right in last year’s referendum.
He defended the law in the interview by arguing that “Barack Obama and all those on the left” are hypocrites for opposing it, demonstrating that “their one mission in life is to abort children, is to kill children in the womb.” After knocking “fly-in abortionists,” Perkins agreed and said that abortion providers are simply driven by profit.
Bryant: You would think that Barack Obama and all those on the left that love so much to talk about women’s health care would rush to support this bill, would just say, ‘absolutely we want the strongest health care, we want admissions privileges, we want that women that is going through that abortion for her life and safety to be paramount,’ well it should be the paramount of the child.
Even if you believe in abortion, the hypocrisy of the left that now tried to kill this bill, that says that I should have never signed it, the true hypocrisy is that their one mission in life is to abort children, is to kill children in the womb. It doesn’t really matter, they don’t care if the mother’s life is in jeopardy, that if something goes wrong that a doctor can’t admit them to a local hospital, that he’s not even board certified. We passed that bill and I think you’ll see other states follow and when that happens at least these fly-in abortionists are going to be regulated under the state laws of the Medical Procedures Act here in the state of Mississippi as they should be across the nation.
Perkins: Well the driving factor is profit for many of them.
The Mississippi House passed a bill that would require doctors to detect fetal heartbeats, which in many cases would require a transvaginal ultrasound, on women seeking an abortion and without exceptions for survivors of rape or incest. An amendment that would ban men from having vasectomies failed to pass. The group Personhood Mississippi praised the bill’s passage, and said they will begin collecting signatures to put another personhood amendment on the ballot in 2013 despite its failure last November.
The bill appears to be based on Janet Porter’s Heartbeat Bill, which passed the Ohio State House and bans all abortions after a detectable heartbeat, that has been springing up in other states including Kansas and Nebraska.
During the debate over the legislation, a Republican lawmaker responded to claims that the medically-unnecessary procedure is “state-sanctioned rape” by arguing that women “allow ourselves to be vulnerable to a pregnancy”:
The Mississippi House approved a bill that would require women seeking abortions to acknowledge when unborn children have detectable heartbeats, in some cases necessitating invasive transvaginal ultrasounds.
There is no provision in the House Bill 1196 exempting women who have been victims of rape or incest from the transvaginal ultrasound.
Rep. Rita Martinson, R-Madison, rebutted Wooten's statement, specifically addressing her description of the instrument.
"What do we think is used when an abortion is performed?" she asked. "What kind of device goes in and snatches a person from the womb, tears it out, and takes that beating heartbeat and kills it?"
While Hines and Wooten said the bill holds women responsible for an unwanted pregnancy while letting men off the hook, Martinson stressed it should be the woman's responsibility.
"Sometimes it's rape, but most of the time, it's not," she said. "We're the ones who remove our pants, are we not?
"We are the ones who allow ourselves to be vulnerable to a pregnancy," she said.
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.