March 25, 2011
Governor Haley Barbour
Haley’s Leadership PAC
P.O. Box 1186
Jackson, MS 39215
Dear Governor Barbour,
Yesterday, Bryan Fischer, the Director of Issue Analysis for the American Family Association, announced that you would be appearing today on his radio show.
Mr. Fischer has a long history of outrageous, dishonest, and often hateful statements--as a result of which, the Southern Poverty Law Center has officially designated the AFA a “Hate Group.” This designation is well earned given the tenor and frequency of Fischer's harsh attacks on the LGBT, Muslim and Hispanic communities among others.
This week, though, Mr. Fischer made a statement that goes to the core of this nation's values. In a post on the American Family Association’s website he claimed that the First Amendment only applies to Christians:
“The First Amendment was written by the Founders to protect the free exercise of Christianity. They were making no effort to give special protections to Islam… Islam is entitled only to the religious liberty we extend to it out of courtesy.”
This assertion would come as a shock not only to every American who learned that religious liberty and equality under the law are among our nation’s core principles, but to the founders themselves, who clearly intended for the protections of the First Amendment to extend to all creeds.
Mr. Fischer isn't simply wrong about this point--he is spreading a dishonest and dangerous lie about how America should treat not only Muslims, but people of all faiths or no faith at all.
If you choose to appear with Mr. Fischer today, you have a responsibility to disavow this lie while on the show.
We disagree on many issues, but this should not be one of them. Progressives and conservatives alike should make clear that the First Amendment protects the religious liberty of all Americans.
People For the American Way