Bryan Fischer hearts Scott Lively; repeats Holocaust revision

Bryan Fischer gets his gay nazi on with this glowing tribute to Scott Lively and the Pink Swastika.

Two things: One, the motives behind David Kato’s death are not clear as yet but that does not stop Bryan Fischer from providing his audience with one-sided analysis. It may be awhile before we can sort through all of the competing theories.

And two, and perhaps more dangerous, Fischer recommends to his large audience a book which has been rejected by Campus Crusade, NARTH, Exodus International and virtually all historians I know who have looked at it. Even the historian Fischer advances to support his theory of the Holocaust said Fischer and Lively are wrong (see Lothar Machtan’s statement).

Hitler’s atrocities primarily do NOT derive from his homosexuality. Of course you CANNOT blame Hitler’s homosexuality for the Holocaust. (Machtan supplied the emphasis)

Machtan thinks Hitler was gay. Having read his book, I would say he did not succeed in proving his thesis. Machtan’s book is not well received among historians. However, even someone who thinks Hitler might have been gay says that his sexuality had nothing to do with the Holocaust or other atrocities. The only ones who think that are…, well, you know.

Bryan Fischer to the right of Jerry Falwell on GLBT housing

Just about 5 years ago, Tucker Carlson hosted Jerry Falwell and Rachel Maddow (which pretty much makes it a party) on his show when the topic of the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court came up. At the time, some conservatives were upset that Roberts had done some pro-bono legal work arguing against a Colorado law which allowed employers and landlords to exclude gays from jobs and housing. Carlson asked Rev. Falwell about Roberts’ activities but seemed surprised by Falwell’s reply:

CARLSON: Jerry Falwell, I notice you wrote a piece supporting Mr. Roberts.  Are you rethinking that? 

FALWELL:  Oh, not at all. 

You know, I—if I were an attorney, I‘d certainly fight for the right of gays or anyone else to be employed or be housed wherever they wished to be housed.  I may not agree with the lifestyle.  And I don‘t.  But that has nothing do with the civil rights of that member of our—that part of our constituency. 

John Roberts would probably have been not a very good lawyer if he had not been willing, when asked by his partners in the law firm to assist in guaranteeing the civil rights of employment and housing to any and all Americans. 

CARLSON:  But wait a second.  I thought conservatives are always arguing against special rights for gays.  And the idea is that…

FALWELL:  Well, housing and employment are not special rights.  I think—I think the right to live somewhere and to live where you please or to work where you please, as long as you‘re not bothering anybody else, is a basic right, not a—not a special right. 

MADDOW:  I think—I‘m happy to agree with you on this.

And I am also happy to agree….which I did in this Christian Post article out today about proposed rules from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, coming out in the Federal Register on Monday, which add sexual orientation and gender identity to existing regulations which bar discrimination in housing decisions

However, if you read the article, you will find that Bryan Fischer does not agree any of us.

However, some Christians are apprehensive of the proposed housing rule. Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for American Family Association said, “This really isn’t about housing, this is about government endorsement of homosexuality.”

He contended that “homosexuals, on average, have higher levels of education and wealth than anyone else.” By that rationale, Fischer stated that alleged discrimination against homosexuality is not the true reason for the proposed rule.

The CP reporter, Stephanie Samuels then properly notes the field research from Michigan which confirms actual discrimination.

According to research cited in the HUD proposal, a 2007 study of housing discrimination found disparate treatment based on homosexuality in 32 out of 120 fair housing tests it conducted.

The study was conducted by Michigan fair housing centers. Testers posed as gay or lesbian home seekers. “Homosexual” testers received more unfavorable treatment on issues such as whether housing was available, the amount of rent, application fees, and levels of encouragement as compared to testers posing as heterosexual home seekers.

However, research really doesn’t matter to Mr. Fischer because he has it all figured out.

Fischer contested the need for this federal legislation. He asserted that homosexuals do have the same rights as everyone but this policy and others were based on “imaginary” fears.

Even if concerns of sexuality-based discrimination were true, Fischer stated, such issues within the homosexual community did not qualify as civil rights issues.

“There is no validity to the civil rights issue. Race is immovable, but homosexuality is a choice,” asserted Fischer.

Mr. Fischer has suggested that one cannot support gays and be a conservative.  If John Roberts and Jerry Falwell cannot be considered conservative then we need new terms. Or, perhaps just one for someone to the right of Roberts and Falwell. 

….

Just a note about the article, when Ms. Samuels quotes me as saying, “…Christians can use the Bible to legislate those who don’t believe in it,” she probably intended to write “Christians can’t (or shouldn’t) use the Bible to legislate those who don’t believe in it.” Also, I did not say that one may “go against the Constitution” due to a compelling state interest. I did say that the limitation of personal rights may be considered if there is a compelling state interest.

Is Bryan Fischer the new kingmaker?

Yesterday, Newsweek’s Ben Adler posted an article featuring Bryan Fischer, Issues Analyst for the American Family Association. In it, Adler portrayed Fischer as a provocative imp who has crafted a media shtick filled with offensive and outrageous positions designed to get ratings and offend liberals. He may or may not mean what he says, according to Adler, but it doesn’t matter because the Christian political business rolls with outrage – requiring a sanctified shock jock to shake things up. Fischer is just doing his job.

To support the tone of his column, Adler referred to Fischer’s protests (oh, the horror!) that “President Obama wants to give the entire land mass of the United States of America back to the Indians. He wants Indian tribes to be our new overlords.” Adler also picked up on some anti-gay, anti-Muslim and yes, the anti-bear comments (you’ll have to click the link for more on that one) but he left out the worst and least entertaining, to wit:

Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews. Gays in the military is an experiment that has been tried and found disastrously and tragically wanting. Maybe it’s time for Congress to learn a lesson from history.

Adler said Fischer was both threatening and entertaining – I call it “hatertainment” – but Fischer’s reference to the Holocaust doesn’t seem very entertaining to me. Neither do disparaging remarks about Catholic Latinos and Muslim inbreeding (click the links to be hatertained).

To me, Adler’s article points to a new low in the culture war. Is the AFA cynically putting out shocking positions in a manipulative effort to entertain an audience? If that’s true, that is scandalous. If it is not true, then he and the AFA really mean all of those things and deserve the scrutiny given to them recently by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Either way, the audience is clearly there. According to Newsweek, right wing politicians have taken notice:

Fischer’s program, “Focal Point,” reaches about two million listeners and has featured guest appearances from a number of prominent Republicans such as Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, and Mike Huckabee and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who on Wednesday told Fischer he would be in favor of reinstating Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

All of those guys are or have been at various stages of positioning for a run at the GOP nomination. Herman Cain, who just declared his intent to run for the nomination, was just on the show as well. Does this mean that the road to the GOP nomination runs through Bryan Fischer’s radio show?

I hope not.

It is certainly possible that none of Fischer’s GOP guests know of the outrageous positions he promotes. However, that was little defense for John McCain when he was endorsed by megachurch pastor John Hagee in 2008. Catholic groups were outraged. Why? On one occasion, Hagee accused Catholicism of being “a godless theology of hate” which during the Nazi’s reign, promoted “a conspiracy to exterminate the Jews.” Over time, reporters dug up more statements by Hagee which embarrassed McCain. McCain said he didn’t know Hagee’s views and if he had known, he would not sought his endorsement. After months of being dogged by the matter, McCain explicitly rejected association with him.

To date, Fischer has given his stamp of approval to Herman Cain and Mike Pence. However, those not inclined to support these candidates are already questioning the wisdom of even appearing on Fischer’s program. For instance, Andrew Sullivan asked about Fischer yesterday:

More to the point: is embracing a man who believes this kind of bile now essential to being viable as a primary candidate for president in the current GOP? If a Democrat had gone on a radio show with anyone as far out on the left as Fischer is on the far right, his or her career would be over.

Talk about burying the lead: Now I have come to the question which is the title of this post and which echos Sullivan’s question – is Bryan Fischer the new GOP kingmaker? Let me add some questions for discussion – is it fair to evaluate candidates based on friendly appearances with people who express incendiary views? Is Sullivan correct about a Democratic candidate who made a comparable appearance?

These questions are political but I am also interested in reader feedback on the religious matters involved. Applying Bryan Fischer’s evaluation of the President (“either he means what he says or he is a bald-faced liar”), how should we evaluate the positions promoted by the AFA? Is being shocking as a means to an end good practice for a Christian ministry?

Oh, so that’s why Bryan Fischer says the darndest things!

Newsweek has it all figured out. The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer has been getting in touch with his inner imp. Zany? Wacky? Outrageous? Nah, it is all a ploy to get ratings and irritate the opponents.  According to Newsweek:

You might think that attention in the form of mockery is not what a public-policy organization would want. But when your business is waging a culture war, there is no such thing as bad publicity for ideological or rhetorical extremism. Being criticized by liberals in the media raises the profile of a socially conservative organization, and burnishes its credibility among the base. Just ask Sarah Palin, or her fans. Fischer’s critics also benefit from the twofer of his being both entertaining and threatening.

Call it “hatertainment.”

But he doesn’t really mean it, does he? Here is Newsweek’s take on that question.

Getting attention from a perch so far off the mainstream media radar screen requires ingenuity. And Fischer is able to shock even jaded journalists and pundits. But does he really believe his most widely circulated statements? Yes and no. A Dec. 21 blog post earned Jon Stewart’s mockery on The Daily Show when Fischer asserted, “President Obama wants to give the entire land mass of the United States of America back to the Indians. He wants Indian tribes to be our new overlords.” All Obama had done is express approval for the nonbinding U.N. Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples which contains one passage affirming land rights. Does Fischer honestly believe that Obama is going to turn your home over to a Native American tribe? Not really, but by pretending he does—which he defends as “taking Obama at his word,”—he gets to make a ludicrous claim. “Either Obama meant what he said or he’s a bald-faced liar,” says Fischer. “I don’t think Obama meant what he said.”

Clever. Since Fischer is just pretending, let’s try that in reverse.

When Fischer says things, either he means what he says or he’s a bald-faced liar. You pick.

Maybe President Obama could be a talk show host on the AFA radio network. According to Fischer, the President has got the formula down.

According to Newsweek and Newsweek’s experts, the whole shtick is more business than conviction. 

“Like all Christian political groups [AFA] has leaders who are entrepreneurial,” says Green. “In the past [Christian conservatives] have sometimes been controversial on purpose, to get attention from the rest of us and to raise money for their organizations. It’s not that they are insincere, but there are organizational motives.” So if Fischer shocks or horrifies coastal media elites by expressing views that they consider bigoted or simply baffling, he is just doing his job.

So if there are “organizational motives,” then saying goofy, offensive stuff you don’t really mean is not insincere but just part of the biz. Glad that’s all cleared up.

After reading the Newsweek piece, I am not sure which more offensive – what Fischer does with his platform or Newsweek’s cynical regard for what they portray as business as usual for Christian ministry.

Who not to vote for in 2012

Bryan Fischer is doing people like me an enormous favor. He is handicapping the 2012 GOP field and will apparently in his next column tell us who he thinks would a great GOP candidate for President. Knowing what I know thus far, this should be a pretty good sign of not to vote for in 2012.

First, he claims evangelicals are key to the next election. This could be true if they voted as a group. However, as Fischer points out, 2008 saw erosion in this demographic with seven million evangelicals preferring Obama over McCain. Two years from now, a case could made that evangelicals will continue to fragment with moderates and social justice evangelicals going one way and social conservatives another.  Fischer’s prescription seems to be an inspiring candidate that is even more socially conservative than McCain.  I doubt evangelicals who were attracted to Obama in 2008 (and to be clear, I was not one of them) will rally around someone who is farther to the right than McCain.

Fischer then rules out Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich for various reasons, some of which are on target, some of which are questionable. For instance, for the same reasons Fischer rejects Mitt Romney, I suspect the party as a whole might make him the nominee. He will almost certainly look reasonable and mainstream next to the far right candidate preferred by Fischer.  

He promises to reveal who he thinks the GOP should select soon. I suspect it will be Mike Pence or Jim Demint. I know it won’t be Mitch Daniels (someone I believe is a compelling figure). In any case, the revelation will likely help my process of elimination.

SPLC myth #4: Homosexuals don’t live nearly as long as heterosexuals

As anticipated, the groups identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “hate groups” have reacted with defensive distraction. Instead of responding directly to the charges made by the SPLC, they have organized a significant effort to change the subject. Called Start Debating/Stop Hating, the website   consists of endorsements from some prominent conservative activists, politicians and ministers. The website also asks visitors to sign a petition which reads:

“We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with Family Research Council, American Family Association, Concerned Women of America, National Organization for Marriage, Liberty Counsel and other pro-family organizations that are working to protect and promote natural marriage and family. We support the vigorous but responsible exercise of the First Amendment rights of free speech and religious liberty that are the birthright of all Americans.”

That sounds fine until you realize that the SPLC did not place groups on the list because they favored “natural marriage and family.” There are other unlisted organizations (e.g., Focus on the Family, Alliance Defense Fund) which clearly and publicly oppose gay marriage.  The SPLC clearly stated reasons why the new groups, including the FRC and the AFA were listed. The issue is a systematic effort to vilify gays, such as this gem from American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer:

Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews. Gays in the military is an experiment that has been tried and found disastrously and tragically wanting. Maybe it’s time for Congress to learn a lesson from history.

That is SPLC myth #5. For this post, I am going to look at myth #4 which focuses on the claim that gays don’t live as long as straights. I have addressed this before extensively and so I am only going to point out again that the groups and their defenders are changing the subject instead of addressing actual problems in the information they present to their constituents.

A recent case in point is a column by Bryan Fischer of the AFA where he did exactly what the SPLC complained about in myth #4. Watch:

While drugs have been found to mitigate the damage done by HIV, there is no cure. Once someone contracts it, he has it for life, a life often tragically shortened by between eight and 20 years, according to the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Smoking will cut six to seven years from the lifespan of the smoker, meaning a cigarette habit is less dangerous to human health and longevity than gay sex.

Given the reference, I assume he is referring to the 1997 study by Hogg et al in the International Journal of Epidemiology which found the following:

In a major Canadian centre, life expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is 8 to 20 years less than for all men.

Does Mr. Fischer have a get-off-the-hate-list-free card because he cited a peer reviewed journal? Those who really want to support these groups might be inclined to stop right there and cease their investigation of the question. Indeed, that is what the American College of Pediatricians do on their Facts About Youth website. They say:

The only epidemiological study to date on the life span of gay men concluded that gay and bisexual men lose up to 20 years of life expectancy.

I have pointed out to the people who put that website together that Hogg et al is not the “only epidemiological study to date on the life span of gay men” but they have not changed their website. In any case, the point is that people who count on these organizations for accurate information would not get it by trusting them and reading their claims.

The Hogg et al study was conducted using data from 1987 – 1992 when AIDS claimed many lives. In 2001, Hogg et al countered the incorrect use of their study – the same study that Bryan Fischer and ACPED cites as current information – by noting that life expectancy had improved significantly, saying:

In contrast, if we were to repeat this analysis today the life expectancy of gay and bisexual men would be greatly improved. Deaths from HIV infection have declined dramatically in this population since 1996. As we have previously reported there has been a threefold decrease in mortality in Vancouver as well as in other parts of British Columbia.

This is not reported on the ACPED site nor is it referred to by Bryan Fischer. Why not? If these groups were interested in presenting accurate information in debating and not hating, then why not present the whole picture?

However, there is more. A more recent 2008 studyby Danish epidemiologist Morten Frisch and statistician Henrik Brønnum-Hansen found that the trajectory of gay mortality is improving there to the point where, according to these researchers,

Despite recent marked reduction in mortality among gay men, Danish men and women in same-sex marriages still have mortality rates that exceed those of the general population. The excess mortality is restricted to the first few years after a marriage, presumably reflecting preexisting illness at the time of marriage. Although further study is needed, the claims of drastically increased overall mortality in gay men and lesbians appear unjustified.

The authors found that mortality improved dramatically with the introduction of antiretroviral treatments and while the mortality rates were still not as favorable for gays and lesbians, they were not compatible with the claims of a 20 year difference. Indeed, the Danish researchers found that the mortality picture of married GLB people is improving over time.

More research needs to be done and these studies need replication but the accurate picture is that life span differences are not dramatic and are not comparable to those produced by smoking. If anything, the mortality picture is improving substantially, not declining. If this new effort from the FRC is supposed to be about debate and dialogue then, please discuss this.

Here is a question:

Why haven’t the groups (or their supporters) singled out by the SPLC disclosed the update provided by Hogg et al in 2001 or the study by Frisch and Brønnum-Hansen in 2008?

Regarding mortality, the truth is more in line with what Hogg et al noted in their 2001 update:

It is essential to note that the life expectancy of any population is a descriptive and not a prescriptive mesaure. Death is a product of the way a person lives and what physical and environmental hazards he or she faces everyday. It cannot be attributed solely to their sexual orientation or any other ethnic or social factor. If estimates of an individual gay and bisexual man’s risk of death is truly needed for legal or other purposes, then people making these estimates should use the same actuarial tables that are used for all other males in that population. Gay and bisexual men are included in the construction of official population-based tables and therefore these tables for all males are the appropriate ones to be used.

In addition to avoiding information inconsistent with their premise, the groups identified by the SPLC often use the information they do disclose in an incorrect manner.  If these groups want to debate, then I suggest they use all of the information available and they use it in accord with accepted scientific standards. For instance, generalizing from Hogg et al in 1997 to all gay people everywhere in 2010 is improper and can easily lead to charges of purposeful negative stereotyping. Instead of changing the subject, I would like to see these groups change the way they defend their views.

Bryan Fischer: Ban everything

He’s getting harder and harder to spoof, but here goes…

AFA analyst calls for ban on everything

Tupelo, MS – Writing today for the website RenewMerica, Bryan Fischer asserted that all sex everywhere needs to be curtailed.

“Just one wrong move and you’re done for,” Fischer wrote. “It’s like cigarettes and gay sex, we are all one smoke or one hook up away from disaster.”

Fischer was reacting to a government report suggesting that one cigarette can be the one that kills you. “Of course, I naturally and initially thought of gay sex. Because gay sex spreads HIV, the first fab time could be your last.”

Extrapolating his thinking, Fischer noted that in Uganda heterosexual sex is the main driver of the spread of HIV/AIDS. This fact demands an aggressive strategy.

“Since one act of straight sex can kill you, the government should crack down on the practice,” Fischer advised. “There simply is no level of safe exposure to straight sex.”

Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are not mine and don’t represent the views of anyone, even myself, or this blog. Even though the opinions expressed are written on this blog, they do not necessarily represent the views of the blog owner.  Actually they just magically appeared here and stuff.

What should Christians do about the SPLC hate list?

Last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center posted a revision of their hate groups list, including the Family Research Council and the American Family Association, among other Christian organizations, on their anti-gay list of groups to watch. The SPLC insists that the groups placed on the list knowingly spread misleading information and harmful stereotypes about gay people that incite prejudice and harassment. Viewing homosexuality as unbiblical was not one of the criteria for inclusion.

Since then, representatives of these groups as well as some defenders have criticized the SPLC, suggesting that the list is really an effort to stifle  differences of opinion and/or to persecute Christians for their beliefs. For the most part, the reaction of defenders of the newly labeled hate groups is to avoid addressing the issues the SPLC raised, instead preferring to attack the credibility of the SPLC.

Reviewing the charges leveled against the Christian groups, I think their responses are mostly unfortunate and unhelpful. The SPLC has identified some issues which are legitimate and have damaged the credibility of the groups on the list. Going forward, I hope Christians don’t rally around these groups but rather call them to accountability.

The SPLC identifies ten myths that the listed groups promote (the statements that are also links lead to blog posts where I address the issues). They are:

1. Homosexuals molest children at far higher rates than heterosexuals.

2. Same-sex parents harm children.

3. People become homosexual because they were sexually abused as children or there was a deficiency in sex-role modeling by their parents. (see also here)

4. Homosexuals don’t live nearly as long as heterosexuals. (see also here and here)

5. Homosexuals controlled the Nazi Party and helped to orchestrate the Holocaust. (see also comments from historian Lothar Machtan)

6. Hate crime laws will lead to the jailing of pastors who criticize homosexuality and the legalization of practices like bestiality and necrophilia.

7.  Allowing homosexuals to serve openly would damage the armed forces.

8. Homosexuals are more prone to be mentally ill and to abuse drugs and alcohol. (see also here and here)

9.  No one is born a homosexual. (see also here and here)

10. Gay people can choose to leave homosexuality.

(Note: the links above are not in the original SPLC article. They link to relevant articles or refer to work I have done to address these claims in past posts. I have done very little work on claims 2 and 7, however, I believe the groups on the SPLC hate list have distorted research to support their views on these issues (e.g., Bryan Fischer’s claim that gays in the military brought on the Holocaust as a talking point against repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell).

The SPLC offers valid criticisms of each one of these assertions. In fairness, the SPLC did not completely debunk each of these statements in their brief article, but they did raise legitimate factual concerns about how these assertions are communicated to the public.

I have spent much time addressing claims 1, 3-6 and 8-10 (click the links above for posts on these topics). The more I have researched these claims, the more disillusioned I have become with the credibility of the groups recently placed on the list. Even though I agree with some positions held by some of the groups on some issues (e.g., pro-life), I now investigate any factual claims for myself and accept nothing at face value.

Ultimately, this is a real problem for American Christianity. One should be able to trust Christian groups to provide accurate information and nuanced analysis. However, on issues relating to sexual orientation, I cannot trust them. For me, this lack of trust spills over to other domains as well, creating a significant problem with credibility. I hope my fellow believers will not defend these claims simply because those making them are Christians.

There are many negative consequences which derive from the myths, overgeneralizations and stereotypes. For instance, I know of a handful of situations where men were kept from their grandchildren or children by other family members because they disclosed same-sex attraction. Even though the men involved had no attraction for children, their families feared them because they experienced homosexual attractions. I know of more than one man who had to defend his right to have custody of his children because he divulged his homosexual attractions to a Christian leader. The families and Christian leaders were driven to fear because of rhetoric from one or more of the groups now on the SPLC list.

Surveys demonstrate that younger people are more moderate regarding homosexuality. They are more likely to view groups such as now occupy the SPLC list as being strident and harsh. Many such young people know GLBT people. They perhaps know some gays who could fit the stereotypes, but often they know more such persons who do not match up with the picture painted by the organizations in question. They also know straight people who have the same problems that are supposed to be more typical of gays. The effect of the hyperbole and stereotyping is to turn them off, sometimes toward the church in general.

To repeat, I hope Christians don’t circle the wagons and view the SPLC episode as a persecution of Christians for “righteousness sake” (Mt. 5:10). In my view, those who criticize the motives of the SPLC for making the designations miss the point. Even if the SPLC targeted Christian groups because those involved don’t like Christians, the substantial issues raised by the SPLC still remain. The SPLC did not bring up doctrinal issues, but rather issues of fact unrelated to any central tenets of Christianity.

Worries over free speech (e.g., Wendy Kaminer) are also distractions. The SPLC cannot stop these groups from misusing data or proclaiming their views. However, the SPLC can exercise free speech to criticize misleading  assertions.

Instead, I hope Christians consider the words of Al Mohler, which could have been written about this very issue:

Yet, when gay activists accuse conservative Christians of homophobia, they are also right. Much of our response to homosexuality is rooted in ignorance and fear. We speak of homosexuals as a particular class of especially depraved sinners and we lie about how homosexuals experience their own struggle. Far too many evangelical pastors talk about sexual orientation with a crude dismissal or with glib assurances that gay persons simply choose to be gay. While most evangelicals know that the Bible condemns homosexuality, far too many find comfort in their own moralism, consigning homosexuals to a theological or moral category all their own.

Having examined the ten myths identified by the SPLC, I have to agree with Mohler – much of what is said by Christians about homosexuals is provably false and rooted in ignorance and fear. On point, leaders of the organizations targeted by the SPLC can defend themselves or they can use this crisis as a wake up call for reflection and change. My hope is that individual Christians and church leaders will not enable the defensiveness but instead demand the reflection and change.

The SPLC hate list and the Nazi card

Last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center published several articles devoted to identifying groups who perpetuate stereotypes and falsehoods about gays. In one of the articles, the SPLC articulated a list of ten myths about gays which they claimed the groups identified as hate groups willfully promote. Elsewhere, the SPLC updated the list of what they term anti-gay hate groups, adding several groups, some of which are well known social conservative organizations.

The reaction was slow but has started to emerge from the groups identified by the SPLC.  One such reaction comes from Matt Barber, Liberty University adminstrator and board member at AFTAH, who wrote an op-ed for the Washington Times, titled “SPLC: The wolf who cried ‘hate.

The SPLC criteria for inclusion as a hate group were at one time somewhat vague.  Now, with the ten-myth criteria, it becomes easier to identify the types of public statements which the SPLC views as promoting bias toward gays. One myth I have written about is the Scott Lively inspired claim that gays animated the Nazi party. In fact, the SPLC referred to a couple of posts on this blog by my friend and colleague, JonDavid Wyneken, history professor at GCC (part 1 & part 2). Referring to claims made in Lively’s book, The Pink Swastika, SPLC’s Evelyn Schlatter and Robert Steinback wrote:

The Pink Swastika has been roundly discredited by legitimate historians and other scholars. Christine Mueller, professor of history at Reed College, did a line-by-line refutation of an earlier (1994) Abrams article on the topic and of the broader claim that the Nazi Party was “entirely controlled” by gay men. Historian Jon David Wynecken at Grove City College also refuted the book, pointing out that Lively and Abrams did no primary research of their own, instead using out-of-context citations of some legitimate sources while ignoring information from those same sources that ran counter to their thesis.

More recently Bryan Fischer, speaking for another newly added hate group the American Family Association, said

Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.

These are false claims which have been addressed multiple times by experts and primary sources. These are the kinds of claims which led the SPLC to place the AFA on their list.

And so it is stunning to see one of Matt Barber’s arguments in defense of the groups recently named to the hate group list. In fact, the argument is the big finish to the Washington Times column I referred to above. He says:

So, center-right America: If you happen to believe in the sanctity of natural marriage and that, as a culture, we’re best served by honoring the Judeo-Christian sexual ethic of our forefathers, you’re now an official “hater.”

Of course, the tired goal of this silly meme is to associate in the public mind’s eye mainstream conservative social values with racism, white supremacy and neo-Nazism. The ironic result, however, is that, as typically occurs with such ad hominem and hyperbolic attacks, the attacker ends up marginalizing himself and galvanizing his intended target (I’m rubber, you’re glue and all that).

Hence, beyond a self-aggrandizing liberal echo chamber, the SPLC – and by extension the greater “progressive” movement – has become largely, as it stews in its own radicalism, just another punch line.

It’s often said that the first to call the other a Nazi has lost the argument.

Congratulations, conservative America: They’re calling you a Nazi. Carry on.

Exactly. By Barber’s reasoning, then, the AFA and Scott Lively have lost the argument since the Nazi card has been played repeatedly by members of the SPLC’s hate list.

There is another strange twist in Barber’s op-ed. He says this:

The ironic result, however, is that, as typically occurs with such ad hominem and hyperbolic attacks, the attacker ends up marginalizing himself and galvanizing his intended target (I’m rubber, you’re glue and all that).

The groups which now populate the SPLC list specialize in ad hominem and hyperbolic attacks. Claims that gays die 20+ years early, that they are child abusers, that they are inherently diseased, and responsible for the Holocaust are the kinds of ad hominem and hyperbolic attacks which lead thoughful people, liberal and conservative, to question the credibility of those making the claims.

Christian groups should care about nuance and bearing honest witness. They should avoid misleading stereotypes and strive for accuracy in fact claims. When they don’t, they hurt the church and the good work that others are doing. Being designated a hate group is a serious matter and one which should cause reflection about the charges and not reckless defensiveness.

For more posts debunking the thesis advanced by the American Family Association and The Pink Swastika, click here…

Obama on Medal of Honor winner – “This is what America is about”

Illustrations of grace under fire are hard to come by, but here is one. Most vitally, his heroics on the battle field are medal worthy, but I also admire Salvatore Guinta’s stunning humility and grace as he receives the Medal of Honor. Staff Sgt. Guinta is only 25 (!) Watch and learn:

I hesitate to mention this in a post about a great American but contrast is sometimes a good teacher. The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer has something to say about the Medal of Honor and as is true to form, it is not good. Fischer says that because Guinta saved lives and didn’t take them in combat, the Medal of Honor has become feminized. First, Guinta did kill an insurgent to free a fellow soldier (watch the clip). Second, why would anyone waste one word trying to diminish the honor of the award and Guinta’s bravery?

I spoofed Fischer in a prior post but I think now he may have become parody-proof.