American Family Association Touts Free Speech for Radio Hosts Except When Hosts Criticize the AFA

In a letter to the Southern Poverty Law Center yesterday, AFA attorney Patrick Vaughn said the American Family Association is a “free speech zone.”
AFAVaughn
In 2012, AFA Tim Wildmon took essentially the same stance regarding Fischer’s views while Fischer was serving as Director of Issues Analysis. Now, in the face of a firestorm of controversy involving the Republican National Committee, the AFA backs away from most of the outrageous things Fischer has said while he represented the AFA.
The AFA claims to be a free speech zone but not that long ago the AFA targeted Worldview Weekend host Brannon Howse because he criticized the AFA’s involvement in Rick Perry’s prayer meeting, The Response. The AFA issued an ultimatum to two other radio hosts who worked with Howse: Todd Friel and John Loeffler. Both hosts were told they had to break ties with Howse or lose their spot on the AFR network. Friel eventually stayed with the AFA while Loeffler decided not to acquiesce to the AFA’s demands.
Howse and his colleagues clearly were not a part of the AFA nor on their payroll. Fischer on the other hand remains an employee of the AFA. Free speech allows Bryan Fischer to spew positions which now the AFA says they repudiate. However, not that long ago, free speech did not allow Brannon Howse to criticize the AFA’s involvement in Rick Perry’s coming out party.

Rachel Maddow: Bryan Fischer Has Been Fired As Spokeman By the American Family Association

Rachel Maddow reported earlier this evening:
[youtube]http://youtu.be/LzUTpe16y1E[/youtube]
May be (should be) more fall out from the GOP’s collaboration with the AFA. Perhaps Bryan Fischer’s foot has been in his mouth just a few too many times.
The AFA hasn’t gotten rid of him completely; he is still considered a “talk show host” and his twitter account has him as the host of the Focal Point show.
Apparently, Tim Wildmon has had a change of heart about Bryan Fischer’s platform. In 2012, Wildmon declined to address Fischer’s comments about HIV and AIDS because Fischer’s talk show did not represent the AFA’s position. Despite the fact that Fischer has two hours to opine and the blog site was maintained by the AFA, Wildmon told me that he didn’t believe he needed to address Fischer’s statements.
More posts to come looking at the statements by David Lane on behalf of the AFA about the purpose of America being a Christian nation.
A little while ago, Fischer tweeted that he will be on the air tomorrow.


If the AFA ever wants to be a player again, they probably can’t stop with demoting Fischer. While it is speculation on my part, I have a hunch Wildmon was told to do something with Fischer by someone at the RNC. I have a hard time believing that Tim Wildmon saw the light unless he felt the heat. He has backed Fischer for years.
The AFA has removed other shows from their network for lesser crimes, such as criticizing the network.
Watch the entire segment which includes an interview with the reporter for Haaretz, Debra Nussbaum Cohen (Her article is here).

Politifact Debunks Bryan Fischer's Christianity Only View of the First Amendment

Just as I did in 2011, yesterday Politifact debunked Bryan Fischer’s claim that the founders said religion but meant Christianity.
On his 12/10/13 Focal Point broadcast, Fischer said:

By the word religion in the First Amendment, the founders meant Christianity.

Not so.
Politifact’s Punditfact writers consulted Baylor’s Thomas Kidd, Rutger’s Jan Ellen Lewis and Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Fellow John Ragosta to provide the complete picture. Fischer believes Muslims should not have the right to build any new mosques. His topic on the broadcast was claims for First Amendment protections by Satanists.
I doubt this comeuppance will distract Fischer from misleading his American Family Association audience. Such facts have come to light before. His own organization, the AFA, publicly disagreed with him in 2011 but he continues to preach his fictions. Fischer’s argument is an extension of David Barton’s Christian nationalist perspective. Barton has defended the view that the First Amendment only applies to monotheistic religions.

Bryan Fischer finds a gay he can like

Bryan Fischer is out for vindication. He was dismissed from a CNN broadcast by Carol Costello after ranting away at gays and failing to discuss the SPLC Mix It Up Day honestly. Now he has found himself a gay person who Fischer believes speaks the truth and thinks like he thinks. And as if to shout, “I told you so!” he presents this gay man as an authority in his most recent column. Fischer cites Johann Hari who penned what Hari portrays as an expose of sorts for Huffington Post on the subject of gay fascists. No matter that most gays aren’t fascists, or that most neo-Nazis, especially in the U.S., hate gays or that Johann Hari is just one gay person. Hari says some things Fischer can agree with, so Hari is an authority.

The problem for Fischer is that the consensus among historians is that the idea that gays are always at the center of fascism is inaccurate. In Fischer’s world, the majority has been co-opted by the gays whereas the few people who see a vital link between homosexuality and fascism are seeing the gospel truth. All it takes is one person, expert or not, saying what Fischer says and voilà, the man is a genius.

I think Hari fails to make any case other than gays as well as straights can be fascists. However, in his piece he makes some other points that Fischer leaves out. Hari suggests that extreme homophobia on the right may be a defense against latent homosexual urges. He writes:

At first glance, our Nazis seem militantly straight. They have tried to disrupt gay parades, describe gay people as “evil”, and BNP leader Nick Griffin reacted charmingly to the bombing of the Admiral Duncan pub in 1999 with a column saying, “The TV footage of gay demonstrators [outside the scene of carnage] flaunting their perversion in front of the world’s journalists showed just why so many ordinary people find these creatures repulsive.”

But scratch to homophobic surface and there’s a spandex swastika underneath.

Describe gay people as evil? People think gays are repulsive? Who says stuff like that? Mr. Fischer overlooked that theory from his new authority on the relationship between the negativity toward gays and homosexuality. Wonder why.

In the end, Hari presents a mish mash of theories, vignettes and fractured history that confuses more than it enlightens. He criticizes The Pink Swatiska but fails to recognize that he has used the same kind of hyperbole in his own piece. In the service of being sensational, he has played into the hands of the historical revisionists he criticizes.

Honestly, some gays are racial bigots. Some Christians are too. Does that make all Christians racial bigots? Or does the fact that some Christians are neo-Nazis mean that Christianity is the breeding ground of fascism? In his zeal to get vindication, Fischer throws logic out of the window and opens himself to the same charge he levels.

 

For more on The Pink Swastika by Scott Lively, see The Pink Swastika.

Why do they even bring Bryan Fischer on?

Bryan Fischer on CNN finds evil in the strangest places and then he won’t answer for his words about gays being Nazis.

 

Isn’t there some way to simply say no to the AFA? Conservatives might lament the title “conservative” applied to AFA and Fischer. However, I think it is up to conservatives to police ourselves. William Buckley did it with the John Birchers; why can’t conservatives today do it with the AFA?

Bryan Fischer: Changing sexual orientation like scoring 100 points in a single NBA game

I bet Bryan Fischer would like to take this one back. Says the incomparable Mr. Fischer today comparing the change from gay to straight:

We know that it’s possible to bat .400 over the course of a major league season, because one man, Ted Williams, did it in 1941. We know that it’s possible to hit 73 home runs in a single season, because one man, Barry Bonds, did it in 2001. We know that it’s possible to score 100 points in an NBA game, because one man, Wilt Chamberlain, did it in 1962.

So what are the odds of your typical basketball enthusiast scoring 100 points in game? Of an NBA player? How about hitting over .400 in a baseball season? This analysis calculated somewhere between a 2.4 and 4.7% chance.
Of course, Fischer shows just how far he is willing to stretch the Jones and Yarhouse study by his title: Study proves gays aren’t born that way. The study says nothing of the kind and does not address causes in any way.
Fischer misuses the Jones and Yarhouse study to mislead his audience. Except that he may be closer than he realizes to getting the odds about right.

What dominionists would do with gays, part 2 – Enter Bryan Fischer

Right Wing Watch first reported that Bryan Fischer today answered my question from yesterday asking what dominionists would do with gays.

Fischer: Both of the cases that went to the United States Supreme Court that dealt with the issue of whether states should criminalize sodomy, and of course they still ought to be able to do it, every state in the union criminalized sodomy until 1962 and then forty nine states until 1972, then they began to fall like dominoes. But by the time of the founding until the late 20th Century, homosexual activity was a felony offense in the United States of America, there is no reason why it cannot be a criminal offense once again, absolutely none.

I think the Supreme Court would object to Mr. Fischer’s assertion that homosexual activity could be recriminalized.
See also:
See also Part 1 and Part 3 in the series about what dominionists would do with gays. Part 1 examines the differences between New Apostolic Reformation dominionists and the Christian Reconstructionist variety. Part 3 examines what one thread of dominionist (theonomic Christian Reconstructionists) would do with anyone who failed to keep Mosaic law – e.g., adulterers, blasphemers, idolators, disobedient children, etc.

AFA takes a stand on religious freedom

While this is not a perfect statement (see this post for a critique), the AFA decided to oppose Bryan Fischer’s narrow view of the First Amendment. Earlier this week, the AFA issued the following statement.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM FOR ALL 
An American Family Association Policy Statement 
The American Family Association celebrates Religious Freedom for all people and for all beliefs as one of the foundational values that make the United States of America a great nation.  
Historical Background 
America’s Founders disagreed how broadly the First Amendment extended Freedom of Religion.  Since James Madison, known as the Father of the Bill of Rights, insured that the Congressional debates over the Bill of Rights were conducted in secret, Americans must look to later sources to understand the positions taken by their Founders.  Thomas Jefferson and Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, whom Madison appointed to the Supreme Court and who later founded Harvard Law School, openly debated over the place of Christianity in American law.  Jefferson advocated a broad view that that all religions, not merely variations of Christianity, were to be protected.  In his autobiography Jefferson wrote: 
[When] the [Virginia] bill for establishing religious freedom… was finally passed,… a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word ‘Jesus Christ,’ so that it should read ‘a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion.’ The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend within the mantle of its protection the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination. 
Joseph Story stated a contradictory view in his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States:  
The real object of the [First] amendment was, not to countenance, much less to advance Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment, which should give to an hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government.”  
Jefferson’s position has ultimately prevailed; under American law all religions enjoy freedom from government interference.  However Joseph Story’s view continues to have proponents, including Bryan Fischer, one of American Family Radio’s talk show hosts.   However, the American Family Association (“AFA”) officially sides with Jefferson on this question.   AFA is confident that the truth of Christianity will prevail whenever it is allowed to freely compete in the marketplace of ideas.  

In other words, on one of the fundamental issues the AFA speaks about, they have a spokesperson who takes the anachronistic view with which they disagree.
Now I would like to see the AFA come out and issue a statement regarding Bryan Fischer’s position on the nobility of displacing and eradicating indigenous people from the land. It appears that they now understand a little better that silence communicates consent. So now there are several statements they need work on.

Who drew more people than The Response?

Kind of a question and observation rolled into one: doesn’t it seem like some of the highly touted big Christian gatherings (prayer rallies, solemn assemblies, awakenings) have not lived up to expectations?
Last year, a big rally in MO called by Dutch Sheets was cancelled because of poor registration numbers, the various awakening meetings (Liberty Council, etc.) had smaller than expected numbers, and now The Response drew 30k in a stadium chosen because it seats 80k.
These are ramblings at this point, I might be wrong. However, along the way over the last couple of years The New Apostolic Reformation seems to have grown in influence with Christian public figures but the follow through has not been stellar. I have not looked into this carefully, so confirmation bias might be at work in me here.
I did take a quick look for events that have sold out Reliant Stadium as points of reference and found that the following filled up the place:
U2 
The semi-finals of the CONCACAF (soccer) Gold Cup
2010 ML Baseball All-Star Game
Selena
2011 NCAA Final Four
The Houston Texans every week
One could see in this comparison a decline in religion, and perhaps there would be some truth in that. However, I wonder if the histrionics of the AFA and their new apostolic partners are wearing thin.
A related thought: The Response was free; none of the events above were free. In fact, they are pretty pricey.

The Response – Good and bad

Rick Perry’s not-as-big-as-hoped prayer meeting, The Response is underway in Texas. You can check out the live stream at the website. As I take a break and write, a gospel choir is belting out some sweet praise music. As an evangelical, these songs touch me deeply and as is customary for me lifts my emotions.
But then I think about who is paying the bills (host entity) for the event.
The folks who think there is honor in the displacement and elimination of Native Americans from the land, who blame the Holocaust (6 million dead Jews) on gays, and who think the First Amendment is only for Christians, among many other offensive things are paying the bills.
To onlookers, I just want to say sorry.