In the rarefied world of anti-gay evangelists, Bryan Fischer holds a special place. For the director of issues “analysis” at the American Family Association (AFA), no falsehood is too outrageous to repeat: We’re Nazis, we will commit “virtual genocide” against Christian soldiers, we can never be role models. (He has yet to call our shoes ugly, but that can’t be far behind.)
No wonder the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has classified the AFA as a hate group.
A new report from SPLC, The Propogandists: Bryan Fischer, the American Family Association and the Demonization of LGBT People, serves as an almanac of the AFA’s hatred of gays and lesbians. The report, written by journalists Jody May-Chang and Jill Kuraitis, traces the rise (if that’s the word) of Fischer from a minister who thought Christians should avoid the political sphere to a leading proponent of Dominionist theology, which calls on Christians (of a certain type) to control all the major sectors of society, from government (laws will follow the Bible) to entertainment (music will be a lot worse).
Fischer’s big leap forward came when he was named the chaplain of the Idaho state senate, just a few years after the state beat back an anti-gay ballot measure. With direct access to politicians, Fischer became a player in Idaho, eventually forming the state chapter of the AFA. Good career move on his part, because it landed him his current gig as a white-haired volcano spewing hate in a syndicated radio program for the AFA.
Of course, Fischer isn’t exactly an outlier at the AFA. The SPLC report also chronicles the auspicious history of homophobia that the Tupelo, MS, organization has compiled through the years. Founded in 1977 by Rev. Donald Wildmon, the AFA has long been obsessively worrying about the gay agenda, unsuccessfully boycotting companies for offering domestic partnership benefits, advertising in gay magazines and liking rainbows (well, not that one. Yet.) As a purveyor of anti-gay myths, the AFA stands second to none.
Which is why Fischer fits in there so well.
Of course, even as society as a whole is moving toward gay equality, the AFA has gotten a boost from the Republican presidential field’s wholesale flight in the opposite direction. Fischer was recently featured at the Value Voters Summit, the jamboree for Christian conservatives, and his rants calling for the return of DADT found a receptive audience among the GOP presidential hopefuls.
And what does Fischer make of all the well-researched information in the report? “[This] is sort of a hit piece on yours truly,” Fischer blustered on his radio show. “I mean there is one distortion, error, lie after another in this piece, I mean it’s just amazing the lies and some of the people I used to trust are the source of these lies.” To translate: it’s the truth when I lie about you, but it’s a lie when you tell the truth about me. (Note the complete lack of any attempt to refute the “lies” in the report.)
So count on more demonization as the presidential campaign unfolds. In the meantime, the SPLC report is a sad reminder that hate has a long history at the AFA and, if Bryan Fischer has his say, it’s only going to get longer.
Image via Southern Poverty Law Center