People For the American Way today asked GOP presidential hopefuls Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, and Haley Barbour to publicly tell the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer that the First Amendment applies to all Americans, when they appear on his radio show later today. Fischer, who has a long history of outspoken bigotry and intolerance, wrote a column earlier this week asserting that the First Amendment was meant to protect only Christians.
“The First Amendment was written by the Founders to protect the free exercise of Christianity,” Fischer wrote, “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.”
“Gingrich, Huckabee, and Barbour all say they value the Constitution. This will be a great opportunity to show their true commitment” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “Bryan Fischer’s attempt to redefine a basic right at the core of our democracy is something that no public official – especially one who prides himself in protecting the Constitution – should let slide. These candidates must make it clear that if elected president they will work to uphold the rights and freedoms of all Americans. And, if they hope to one day represent all Americans, they must be careful to distance themselves from people like Fischer, who want the rights and opportunities of our country to be extended only to a few.”
“It’s baffling that these presidential hopefuls think that it’s appropriate to lend any credibility to someone with as astounding a record of intolerance and bigotry as Fischer,” Keegan continued, “But if they still go on Fischer’s program, while on the show they should at least clearly separate themselves from his demonstrated contempt for the Constitution and for many of his fellow Americans.”
Fischer’s redefinition of the First Amendment is the latest in a long string of unapologetic bigotry. In January, he insulted a recipient of the Medal of Honor, saying the medal had been “feminized” because “we now award it only for preventing casualties, not for inflicting them.” Last month, he called Native Americans “morally disqualified from sovereign control of American soil” and asserted that they “remain mired in poverty and alcoholism” because they “cling to the darkness of indigenous superstition instead of coming into the light of Christianity and assimilating into Christian culture.”
Fischer has also stated that “”homosexuals should be disqualified from public office,” that “gay sex is a form of domestic terrorism,” and that Hitler “surrounded himself” with “male homosexuals” because “he could not get straight soldiers to be savage and brutal and vicious enough to carry out his orders.”
But he reserves his most ferocious bigotry for Muslims, demanding that no new mosques be built in the United States and that Muslims be banned from the U.S. armed forces, and has even called for the deportation of Muslim Americans.
People For the American Way’s full letters to the presidential hopefuls can be found here: