AFA Deceives Parents About Mix It Up Day

On October 30, The Southern Poverty Law Center will partner with over two thousand schools to sponsor an event called Mix It Up day. From the Mix It Up website, the event is

national campaign launched by Teaching Tolerance a decade ago, Mix It Up at Lunch Day encourages students to identify, question and cross social boundaries.

In our surveys, students have identified the cafeteria as the place where divisions are most clearly drawn. So on one day – October 30 this school year – we ask students to move out of their comfort zones and connect with someone new over lunch. It’s a simple act with profound implications. Studies have shown that interactions across group lines can help reduce prejudice. When students interact with those who are different from them, biases and misperceptions can fall away.

There is good that can come from this. Many teachers and schools encourage this kind of activity without being a part of the SPLC event. As a part of the anti-bullying initiative at my son’s elementary school last year, such lunch time mixing was encouraged. While I am not sure how much it helped in the long run, it seemed well intended.

However, where there is a anti-bullying program/idea, you can expect the American Family Association to be there complaining about it. And that is the case with the MIU Day. In a Time magazine story out yesterday, an AFA press release is mentioned and has this to say about the SPLC event:

“Mix It Up” day is an entry-level “diversity” program designed specifically by SPCL (sic) to establish the acceptance of homosexuality into public schools, including elementary and junior high schools.

The AFA is calling for parents to keep their kids home on that day.

If possible, this is a new low for the AFA. There is just no truth in what the AFA is telling parents.

There are real consequences to the AFA’s actions. Some schools apparently have been intimidated by the AFA tactics and backed out of the event. I know first hand that some Christians become defensive when misinformed about anti-bullying initiatives.

Thanks to the AFA and Focus on the Family, self-styled pro-family groups are becoming associated with resistance to anti-bullying efforts. What is particularly disturbing in this case is the blatant dishonestly of the AFA in mischaracterizing the MIU Day.

I urge parents to send their kids to school on Oct 30 and go so far as to ask their schools to consider participating in MIU Day. While we have no megaphone akin to the AFA, I will encourage all associated with the Golden Rule Pledge to support any efforts to reduce stigma, stereotyping and bullying in schools.

 

 

Rick and Kay Warren condemn the denial of link between HIV and AIDS as promoted by the AFA’s Bryan Fischer

Early in January, Bryan Fischer, issues analyst with the American Family Association, threw his support behind the belief that HIV does not cause AIDS. On his daily talk show, Fischer hosted University of California, Berkeley professor, Peter Duesberg, who is the principle proponent of the theory that HIV is a harmless virus and that AIDS is the result of lifestyle choices, such as drug use and promiscuity, which weaken the immune system. Duesberg says that gay men are at special risk since they use drugs and engage in casual sex more so than other groups.

In a column on the AFA website, Fischer wrote:

So what is the cause of what we know as AIDS? What is the cause of this condition that is killing people? Duesberg’s answer can be found in one word: drugs.

And specifically, drug use connected with the kind of sex that is far too common in the homosexual community. While the average heterosexual has somewhere between seven to 14 sexual partners in a lifetime, it is not uncommon for homosexuals to have hundreds, even thousands, of sexual partners.

By partnering with Duesberg, Fischer brought AIDS denialism closer to the mainstream of evangelicalism. In response, Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren and his wife Kay issued a statement to me about Fischer’s and Duesberg’s denial of the HIV-AIDS link. The Warrens’ statement is powerful and decisive. It is reproduced here in full:

Since AIDS was first discovered in 1981, 30 years of non-stop scientific research by the US military, the medical community, our government, and by every international health organization has proven over and over, with countless irrefutable results, that ONLY people with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) develop AIDS.  To imply the disease is caused by anything besides HIV is quack science, like claiming the earth is flat, or the moon is made of cheese. Since 1985, when the virus that creates AIDS was isolated, every doctor on the planet, except Peter Duesberg, has known that HIV is the only cause of AIDS.

Duesberg’s denial of the entire body of research, and his rejection of thousands of scientific trials and papers, would be laughable if millions of lives weren’t at stake.  But his view is deadly.  Unfortunately, Duesberg convinced some people in Africa that HIV was not the cause of AIDS and as a result many people there needlessly became infected with the virus, and some have subsequently suffered and died.

It is frustrating – and frightening – for those of us in AIDS ministry to see someone like Dr. Duesberg play to people’s bias and prejudices.  For the past eight years we have worked with thousands of churches around the world and in America who have ministries to those infected and affected by AIDS.  No one deserves this illness, and we must not ignore those among us who are infected or affected by HIV and AIDS.  There are numerous ways to acquire the virus – sexual activity, blood transfusions, being born to an HIV positive mother, dirty needles –  but what matters isn’t  how a person became infected as much as how we will respond. People with living with the virus are people that Jesus created, loves, and died for. Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan teaches us that when you find someone bleeding on the side of the road, you don’t say “Was it your fault?” You just help them in love!

Let’s be very careful about what reality we deny; lives are at stake.

When the Warrens write that Duesberg convinced some in Africa that HIV and AIDS were not related, they are referring to the period of AIDS denial in South Africa from 2000 to 2005. In 2000, Duesberg was invited by South African President Thabo Mbeki to provide advice on AIDS policy. Subsequently, the South African government displayed antagonism toward AIDS treatment and prevention programs which involved anti-retro viral drugs (ARVs). Nicolo Nattrass, writing in African Affairs, said that President Mbeki questioned the science behind the epidemic. However, the consequences were devastating. According to a Harvard University press release and a study from the journal African Affairs, over 330,000 deaths could have been prevented if ARVs had been used. The Harvard release, citing a 2008 study, added that 35,000 babies were born with HIV due to failure to implement appropriate drug based prevention programs.

If anything, the African epidemic provides evidence counter to Duesberg’s theory. The epidemic there is driven by heterosexual activity. The stereotype about gay men spreading HIV via lots of drugs and sex is not applicable there.

Given what is at stake, the Warrens’ statement is important. The American Family Association has a sizable audience which includes GOP Presidential candidates. Confusion over something as basic as what causes AIDS could become a barrier to the progress made in ministry and treatment for those with HIV/AIDS. As the Warrens remind us, lives are at stake.

Wretched Radio Listeners Express Disappointment Over Decision to Stay With American Family Radio

Last week, the American Family Association issued an ultimatum to two hosts of radio shows on the American Family Radio network – either stop speaking at events hosted by Brannon Howse or be removed from the AFR network. AFA decided that people who help Howse and his Worldview Weekend organization are not welcome to be a part of their lineup. Leading up to The Response prayer meeting, convened by Texas Governor Rick Perry, and paid for by the AFA, Howse had criticized the prominent participation of members of the New Apostolic Reformation in The Response. The AFA President, Tim Wildmon told me last week that “AFR is under no obligation to run programs of individuals who are going to help Brannon when he is attacking our friends. We make programming decisions all the time.”
On Friday, one of the hosts, John Loeffler, decided not to continue with AFR. On Tuesday, just ahead of the Wednesday deadline for a decision set by the AFA, Todd Friel, host of Wretched Radio issued a statement on their group’s Facebook page announcing intention to continue with AFA and drop out of a prior commitment to speak at a Worldview Weekend in 2012. The note elicited many comments from fans, some of whom seemed confused about what the announcement meant. Once other commenters explained the situation, many Wretched fans expressed disappointment in the decision. Here are some of those comments:
Cathy Blackerby Mathews asked:

My question is this: Will Wretched cover the NAR movement? They clearly proclaim a false gospel. The AFA has made it pretty clear that they will not tolerate this. I just don’t understand how the Wretched gang does not see that they have ti…ed their own hands here. This movement is huge- it’s tentacles are moving into all kinds of areas- conservative politics, Word-Faith, church growth, territorial demons/spiritual warfare, IHOP, missions. It is all about power and alliances for the NAR- their theology dictates that this be the case. Please Wretched gang- look into this stuff. Herescope has done extensive documented research -as well as Brannon obviously.

Greg Harrison said:

I am not going to stop listening to Wretched, I am still a fan, but I think I have to take Todd’s advice: when someone makes a less than biblically informed decision then my discernment radar has to go up. I never thought I would have to us…e that for Wretched. I am very saddened by this decision and wonder how your ministry will be weakened if you have to censor yourself so as not to offend your network. I also wonder, as Howse pointed out, how you can justify your recent comments on James MacDonald (with which I whole-heartedly agreed) in the light of your decision to agree to AFA’s demands when they are aligning with and protecting heretics. On another note: Chris Rosebrough (who was recently interviewed on Wretched) is heard in 57 countries and has a very large audience for Fighting for the Faith without the aid of a large network like AFA. I am sure Wretched could survive without AFA.

Joy Wenning said she will stop following the show, saying

Personally, I prefer listening to Wretched, BUT. will no longer. I know Brannon is being gracious, however, I have much more respect for Brannon and John. Wretched, you have an extremely weak reason(s). It is clear you didn’t act on principle…but went to every extent possible to find an out. You have to think a whole lot to come up with your list. One normally does that when they want to hang on to something bad enough and are willing to ignore the obvious. Do a heart check. You are willing to let AFA snap you into submission. I can no longer in good conscience listen knowing you have compromised on this large of an issue. The times are a changing and we will be pressured more and more to compromise. I think you are really inconsistent in what you’ve done.

Earlier today on the same thread, Wretched Radio’s Joel Anderson responded to those who expressed disagreement with the decision saying:

Wretched ?(Joel) Cathy, Angie, Joy, everyone – Let me be clear. This has absolutely nothing to do with what we do or don’t speak out against. Nothing. Wretched will continue to speak out against NAR [New Apostolic Reformation], IHOP [International House of Prayer], etc. The controversy will not affect our… programming in the least bit. We have not changed anything content-wise on Wretched. If we get bounced from stations and networks (and we have countless times) for what we air…so be it. We stand behind what we say.

After this comment, Jim De Arras asked:

Joel, Will Wretched remain free to speak out against AFA’s association with NAR in the Rick Perry event or praise Brannon for his stand? If not, you are compromised.

Prior to the ultimatum, Wretched had not discussed the criticisms of Howse on the show. Given the AFA’s decision, doing so now would invite retaliation.
Despite the majority of comments being negative on the decision, a few promised to keep listening.
Teresa Atkins said:

Love you guys!!! We support you Friel and staff. We don’t support AFA. We will keep listening via your Wretched club. Praying for you all. Grace and peace to you and your families.

For his part, Howse encouraged Friel’s listeners to continue with the show, but expressed disappointment over the decision on his website:

Brannon encourages his audience to continue listening to & learning from Wretched Radio & his friend Todd Friel. Brannon does lovingly explain why he is disappointed in the excuses given by Wretched Radio in their statement & explains why their statement claiming there is not a theological issue at stake is wrong.

American Family Association Takes Aim at Critic of The Response

The whole article is up at Religion Dispatches.

The American Family Association has taken aim at fellow religious conservative Brannon Howse over his criticism of the AFA’s recent sponsorship of GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry’s The Response prayer meeting. Earlier this week, Jim Stanley, program director of AFA’s radio network, American Family Radio, sent notices to two talk show hosts who are associated with Howse, informing them that continued presence on the AFA’s radio network was conditioned on severing ties with Howse.
The talk show hosts, John Loeffler and Todd Friel, have shows aired by American Family Radio and also speak at Howse sponsored events. According to Tim Wildmon, president of the AFA, “we identified two people with programs on our networks and told them, ’you have to make a choice.’” In defense of the move, Wildmon said “AFR is under no obligation to run programs of individuals who are going to help Brannon when he is attacking our friends. We make programming decisions all the time.”

Todd Friel and John Loeffler are two guys who were doing their own thing and then out of the blue they get an email from American Family Radio telling them to make a choice. Neither one of them had taken sides with Howse against the AFA’s involvement in The Response. Still they must pick a side now. Loeffler chose to leave the radio station. No word from Friel as yet. He has until Wednesday to cancel with Howse or else the AFA will remove his show.
On a broadcast last week, Thursday I think, Howse said an unnamed evangelical figure wrote to him to say that he had large “megaphones” to use in order to “decimate” Howse’s ministry. The only other evangelical I know who has mentioned Howse in a critical way is David Barton, using the megaphone of Wallbuilders Live.
This is a kind of internecine war where the ideological issues are complicated. Howse is a social conservative speaker who has worked with Barton and the AFA. However, Howse believes it is wrong for Christians to partner with the New Apostolic Reformation. From Howse point of view, the NAR is not apostolic nor a reformation. Most of the teachings are heretical and the AFA and other social conservative groups are selling out to NAR for a mess of right wing political pottage.

More on The Response: Did Hitler mimic the Indian reservations?

Here is a tale of two supporters of The Response.
John Benefiel is founder of the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network and endorser of the upcoming prayer meeting, The Response, initiated by Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) and funded by the American Family Association. Benefiel has focused on repairing relationships with Native Americans. His reasons are spiritual. For instance, he teaches that Oklahoma’s high divorce rate is due to the fact that Oklahoma was once home to the Indian Territory, a place where the government broke covenants with Native Americans. Over the years, people have been inspired by dark forces to break their marriage vows because the government broke vows with the native nations of the land. Thus, the support for making amends with native people is not simply to do the right thing, rather the big picture is to clear the land of demonic influence so that Benefiel’s version of Christianity can take hold.
Bryan Fischer is an Issues Analyst for the AFA, the group funding the event endorsed by Mr. Benefiel. Mr. Fischer has said that Native Americas were morally disqualified from ownership of their lands because of their savagry and immorality. The AFA website provides Mr. Fischer a forum to say the Indians got what they deserved because they refused to convert to Christianity. Fischer and Mr. Benefiel surely seem to disagree about this matter.
Mr. Fischer also preaches that the Nazi party was full of gays, Hitler was gay and needed gays to enforce his evil intentions. According to Fischer, gays in the Nazi military gave the world 6 million dead Jews.  
Mr. Benefiel has something to say about Hitler and the Nazi era as well. Roll the tape:

The only reference to this possibility that I can find is John Toland’s biography of Adolf Hitler, where he wrote:

If we believe Bryan Fischer (which I don’t), then Hitler was some kind of gay and his brutality was because of it. Now we hear, from Apostle Benefiel and author John Toland, that the Nazis were inspired by the cruelty of the Christian nation America toward our indigenous people. Wow.
Benefiel and President Obama have something in common according to Fischer. According to Fischer when we consider America’s treatment of Native Americans, there are two conceptual options:

The template that the left has generated is that the displacement of indigenous tribes by European colonists and settlers was irredeemably evil. All the land which now comprises the United States was stolen from its rightful owners. Our very presence on this soil is a guilty, tainted presence. 
So the question is whether that template is right, or whether the displacement of indigenous nations was consistent with the laws of nature, nature’s God, and the law of nations and history. 
A lot is at stake here. If Americans believe that the entire history of our nation rests on a horribly evil foundation, then there is nothing to be proud of in American history, and our president is correct to identify America as the source of all evil in the world and to make a career out of apologizing for her very existence. 
If, however, there is a moral and ethical basis for our displacement of native American tribes, and if our westward expansion and settlement are in fact consistent with the laws of nature, nature’s God, and the law of nations, then Americans have much to be proud of.

On the matter of native people and the evil perpetrated, Benefiel and President Obama are on the same page.   
Obviously making amends with Native Americans is a big deal to Benefiel. And to his credit, he has investigated and documented the evil treatment of indigenous people by the American government. However, given his belief in curses and apologies, it is hard for me to understand how he can endorse an event like The Response, funded by the AFA, which condones Bryan Fischer’s derogatory views of Native Americans as a race of people.   
One observation that I can make here is that Christian conservatives are not as monolithic a group as those outside the group think we are. Since I would be somewhere in there, the boundaries expand to even greater reaches.
It does raise for me a question about the intent of events like The Response. To which god are these folks praying? Are they praying to the one who demands an apology for evil done to Native Americans, or the one who empowered the Europeans to displace the indigenous people?
Well, at least The Response is bringing people of competing ideologies together.
(Thanks to Kyle Mantyla at Right Wing Watch for the tip.)
Video is derived from this sermon.

The strange bedfellows involved in Rick Perry's prayer meeting

On the video below, at least four people who are associated with Governor Rick Perry’s The Response prayer meeting speak in favor of an apology to Native American people for the atrocities committed against them by European settlers. Jay Swallow, Lou Engle, Sam Brownback and John Benefiel appear and support the Native American Apology Resolution. In fact, John Benefiel’s ministry made the video.
Lou Engle, who is not listed as a The Response endorser but is a part of the International House of Prayer which is providing support, speaks about the apology as a way to remove the curse on the land due to how the American government treated native people. He leaves the impression that abortion today might be related in some way to the government’s practice of making and breaking treaties.
On the other hand, the event is being funded by the American Family Association, a group which condones and provides a platform for the views of Bryan Fischer. Fischer believes the native people were wiped out because they were so savage and immoral that God favored the occupying European settlers. If confessing national sins is on the agenda, I wonder if the prayers of all of these people will cancel each other out. Some will pray thanks for removing the land from the native people, and others will ask forgiveness for taking it.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HT0ekWNUjL8[/youtube]
While I do not link any of our present day issues to curses, I do believe that Christians should be in the front of the line to support the Native American Apology Resolution. I repeatedly asked the AFA to do so back in the Spring with dead silence from them. In taking the view that America was acting as a proxy for God, he and the AFA stand in direct opposition to those they are partnering with to put on The Response.
Additional notes:
After I posted the above, I explored the work of John Benefiel a bit more. Right Wing Watch has a couple of posts bringing to light Benefiel’s views about the Statue of Liberty (demonic) and homosexuality (big Baal conspiracy). You can read more about Benefiel here. Benefiel and Cindy Jacobs have a fixation on Baal which strangely enough is a tie to the Native American Apology Resolution. It is all explained here in this prayer alert from Jacobs’ Generals International.
I don’t really understand it all, but it appears that the Resolution was used as a kind of talisman to appease spirits in places around Route 50 all through the nation. The Resolution is important because it represents a necessary step to keeping a covenant given by God to the Pilgrims to evangelize the native people. So when the settlers breached treaties, they were also breaking covenant with God. According to this line of thinking, God won’t hear our prayers until we get things right with indigenous people.
The passage of the Resolution was viewed as a means of entering into a second phase of repentence from idolatry — which is divorcing Baal via a rejection of freemasonry and the occult. Enter the statue of liberty. According to Benefiel, this pagan symbol is idol worship. Benefiel and the Generals folks want to pray all of that away.
What a gathering The Promise should be. I think if God could be confused, this meeting might be the one to accomplish it. David Barton will be thanking God for George Washington’s faith, and John Benefiel will be divorcing himself from Washington’s freemasonry. Bryan Fischer and the AFA might pray in thanks for delivering the land into the hands of the Europeans, and John Benefiel and the apostles will be in remorse over it.
Since God is not the author of confusion, then I am not sure what is going on with The Response.

Volokh Conspiracy on Bryan Fischer's views of the First Amendment

Last Friday, Eugene Volokh analyzed Bryan Fischer’s claims about the First Amendment and found them wanting.  You’ll remember Mr. Fischer, I’m sure; I have written about his views a few times. Last week, Fischer said:

Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam. Islam is entitled only to the religious liberty we extend to it out of courtesy. While there certainly ought to be a presumption of religious liberty for non-Christian religious traditions in America, the Founders were not writing a suicide pact when they wrote the First Amendment. 

By referring to non-Christian religious traditions as those to which liberty is extended by courtesy and not fundamental right, Fischer extends his vision much wider than ever before. I addressed Fischer’s claims here. A more authoritative legal source is Mr. Volokh who wrote:

Actually, both the First Amendment and the No Religious Test Clause of the original Constitution were quite deliberately written to cover all religions. Many state constitutions of the era did limit their protection to Protestants (New Jersey, North Carolina, and Vermont) or Christians (Delaware, Maryland, and Massachusetts). Some others (New Hampshire and South Carolina) provided for funding of Protestant or Christian teaching, or more broadly established Protestantism, but did not limit religious freedom protections or office-holding.
But the U.S. Constitution did not have any such limitation. James Iredell, later one of the first Justices of the Supreme Court, specifically defended the No Religious Test Clause on precisely these grounds:

I consider the clause under consideration as one of the strongest proofs that could be adduced, that it was the intention of those who formed this system to establish a general religious liberty in America…. 

But it is objected that the people of America may, perhaps, choose representatives who have no religion at all, and that pagans and Mahometans may be admitted into offices. But how is it possible to exclude any set of men, without taking away that principle of religious freedom which we ourselves so warmly contend for? This is the foundation on which persecution has been raised in every part of the world. The people in power were always right, and every body else wrong. If you admit the least difference, the door to persecution is opened.

To get the rest of the good, read the remainder of the post at Volokh Conspiracy.

Bryan Fischer sees silver lining in Phelps ruling

First, Ed Brayton beat me to this observation:

No irony meter could survive this blow:

Justices Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas are all wrong in their ruling on the reprehensible Westboro Baptist Church protests at military funerals. Alito alone is right. As he says, the First Amendment is “not a license for vicious verbal assault.” The gay-haters at Westboro have plenty of free speech avenues open to them – books, articles, video, audio, TV, radio, public forums, internet postings, emails etc. But they do not have a right to “intentionally inflict severe emotional injury on private persons.” The Supremes in this 8-1 decision have taken ugliness off its leash, turned it loose, and legitimized the most vile forms of public verbal attack. They have cried havoc and let slip the dogs of vitriol.

Seriously? The guy who claims that gays are responsible for the Third Reich and the Holocaust because only gays could be as savage as the Nazis and who demands that gays be sent to mandatory reeducation camps to turn them straight is complaining that the Supreme Court protects the only slightly more barbaric rhetoric of the Phelps cult? Words fail.

Despite his criticism, Fischer finds a silver lining in the court ruling:

The only upside here is that if the Supreme Court says it’s okay to say “God hates fags” – something that’s not even true, since the truth is the God loves homosexuals enough that he sent his only Son to die for them – then it certainly must be okay for students in a classroom, for public officials, and for radio talk show hosts to express reasoned and rational criticism of homosexual conduct without any kind of penalty whatsoever. We just need to tell heterophobes and Christophobes to get a grip, lighten up, back off, and read the Supreme Court’s Westboro ruling and go away.

Pretty much it is open season on gays now which is a good thing if you engage in Fischer’s version of “reasoned and rational criticism.” Blaming gays for “six million dead Jews” and saying that “there is no quicker way to assign the United States to the scrap heap of history than to normalize homosexual behavior in our military” is actually pretty close to some of Westboro theology. The reason the Phelps clan pickets the funerals of soldiers is because they believe God is allowing soldiers to die to punish the US for tolerance of gays. Here is the description of these beliefs from Snyder v. Phelps:

For the past 20 years, the congregation of the Westboro Baptist Church has picketed military funerals to communicate its belief that God hates the United States for its tolerance of homosexuality, particularly in America’s military. The church’s picketing has also condemned the Catholic Church for scandals involving its clergy. Fred Phelps, who founded the church, and six Westboro Baptist parishioners (all relatives of Phelps) traveled to Maryland to picket the funeral of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq in the line of duty. The picketing took place on public land approximately 1,000 feet from the church where the funeral was held, in accordance with guidance from local law enforcement officers. The picketers peacefully displayed their signs—stating, e.g., “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” “Fags Doom Nations,” “America is Doomed,” “Priests Rape Boys,” and “You’re Going to Hell”—for about 30 minutes before the funeral began.

Perhaps the main difference between the Phelps message and Bryan Fischer’s views expressed on the American Family Association website is their differing opinions about the timing of God’s wrath on American – now or later. Phelps believes that God is now punishing America; Fischer believes it will come sometime in the future based on the same cause.

But never fear, such “reasoned and rational criticism” is now safe whether provided by the Phelps or the American Family Association. 

AFA divided over Bryan Fischer’s views on Native Americans

First, Elijah Friedeman stepped up and distanced himself from the supremacist views of Bryan Fischer about Native Americans. Friedeman’s rebuttal to Bryan Fischer’s now-removed column (you can read it here) saying Native Americans were “morally disqualified” can be read on his blog.

Now, AFA General Counsel, Patrick Vaughn has weighed in with a comment on my Crosswalk article reporting a statement from the Native American Rights Fund. There Vaughn wrote:

Bryan Fischer’s blog runs on the AFA website. His blog does not speak for AFA. His statements about Native Americans were wrong and disturbing. I am posting this as an individual, but provide my job description to illustrate that Bryan’s views were not those of AFA as a whole.

Patrick Vaughn

General Counsel

American Family Association, Inc.

The AFA does not appear to be a group that promotes diversity of viewpoints but on this issue, the organization has sought some distance from Mr. Fischer. Some organizations are known for their freedom of thought and expression (e.g., colleges and universities – academic freedom) whereas others (e.g., advocacy groups) are more often on ideological script. In this case, it appears that Mr. Fischer has found an issue which has generated genuine disagreement among his peers.

Bryan Fischer explains why the AFA pulled his column on Native Americans

I don’t know where the hole is going that Bryan Fischer is digging but it got a little deeper this afternoon.

As of mid-afternoon today, no decision had been made by AFA leaders to address the controversy over the column about Native Americans (you can read it here) according to Cindy Roberts, Director of Media and Public Relations.  Then late today, Mr. Fischer posted his explanation:

On Tuesday, I posted a column on the settlement of America by Europeans. The column generated so much intense, vitriolic and profane reaction that it threatened to take on a life of its own, and serve as a distraction to the fundamental mission of AFA, even though when I blog I am speaking only for myself and not for the organization. So we took it down. 

But the issue I addressed in the column is an important one, and at some point, a rational discussion and debate about it must be held. 

The template that the left has generated is that the displacement of indigenous tribes by European colonists and settlers was irredeemably evil. All the land which now comprises the United States was stolen from its rightful owners. Our very presence on this soil is a guilty, tainted presence. 

So the question is whether that template is right, or whether the displacement of indigenous nations was consistent with the laws of nature, nature’s God, and the law of nations and history. 

A lot is at stake here. If Americans believe that the entire history of our nation rests on a horribly evil foundation, then there is nothing to be proud of in American history, and our president is correct to identify America as the source of all evil in the world and to make a career out of apologizing for her very existence. 

If, however, there is a moral and ethical basis for our displacement of native American tribes, and if our westward expansion and settlement are in fact consistent with the laws of nature, nature’s God, and the law of nations, then Americans have much to be proud of.

Someone at the AFA must have determined that attacking Native Americans was out of sync with the AFA mission but that finding fault with the Medal of Honor and opining that Jesus would have allowed a home to burn down over failure to pay a fee is a part of their mission.

On the substance, it appears that shades of gray are missing from Mr. Fischer’s palette. I reject this reductionism and appeal to naturalism (“laws of nature and nature’s God?!).  In his column, Mr. Fischer tries to frame obviously evil acts as noble ones. However, evil does not become noble because the evil served an outcome that cannot now be undone.  

I disagree with the President on many issues but I don’t believe Fischer is correct in his assessment that Obama blames America for “all evil in the world.” Fischer expresses no regret for his offensive and supremacist generalizations about Native Americans and only makes things worse by engaging in all or nothing argumentation.