Thursday, August 04, 2011

Christianist Hate Group Seeks to Insert Itself In 2012 Election

Among the more thoroughly dishonest of the self-styled "family values" organizations is the American Family Association ("AFA") - which was aptly designated as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center ("SPLC"). With Bryan Fischer as one of its loudest spokesmen, AFA continues to reach new lows and it's clear that its message of hate and dissemination of lies and falsehoods increasingly encompasses anyone out side of white conservative Christian circles. Calling AFA and its followers modern day Pharisees is an insult to the Pharisees of the Gospels. Things have truly gotten that foul and nasty. Yet AFA with the help of Texas Governor Rick Perry is endeavoring to showcase itself as a player/kingmaker in the 2012 election cycle beginning with a rally this coming weekend in Houston that pretty much tells everyone who does not drink the toxic Christianist Kool-Aid that they are unwelcome. Not surprisingly, even though Perry invited all U.S. governors to the event, only one has accepted the invite and rumor is that he will cancel. One can only hope that the event makes it very clear to even the dullest and least engaged of the voting populace that AFA and its affiliates and allies now represent the most repugnant and hate-filled aspects of U.S. society and that anyone embracing AFA (or embraced by AFA) ought to be resounding rejected by the electorate as a dangerous extremist. The New York Times looks at AFA and its effort at self-aggrandizement. Here are highlights:

To its admirers on the religious right, the American Family Association is a stalwart leader in a last-ditch fight to save America’s Christian culture and the values of traditional families. To its liberal critics, it is a shrill, even hateful voice of intolerance, out to censor the arts, declare Muslims unfit for public office and deny equality to gay men and lesbians because they engage in sinful “aberrant sexual behavior.”

[T]he American Family Association’s pronouncements have flowed forth daily from its sleek offices here in the Deep South. But now it is doing more than preaching to the choir. This summer, the association has thrust itself into presidential politics by paying for and organizing a day of prayer to save “a nation in crisis” that Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is convening this Saturday.

The rally, at a stadium in Houston, is expected to draw dozens of the country’s most conservative evangelical groups and leaders, and could burnish Mr. Perry’s national profile and his appeal to religious conservatives as he considers entering the 2012 presidential race. Mr. Perry invited his fellow governors but only one, Sam Brownback of Kansas, also a Republican, accepted the invitation to the explicitly Christian rally, and in recent days even his attendance appeared uncertain

[T]he association has sharpened its edge over the years . . . . opposing what it calls an anti-Christian “homosexual agenda” — not only same-sex marriage and the acceptance of gay troops in the military, but any suggestion that homosexual “behavior is normal.” The association also campaigns against antibullying programs that teach tolerance and corporations (like Home Depot, a current target) that support gay pride parades. Mr. Wildmon warns that if current social trends go unchecked, “homosexuals will become part of an elite class” and “Christians will be second-class citizens at best.

[T]he group’s reputation for inflammatory statements rose after the hiring two years ago of Bryan Fischer, a former pastor from Idaho, as the director of “issues analysis” and the host of a daily two-hour afternoon show. . . . Mr. Fischer trumpets the disputed theory that Adolph Hitler was a homosexual and that the Nazi Party was largely created by “homosexual thugs” — evidence, he says, of the inherent pathologies of homosexuality. Mr. Fischer has also said that no more Muslims should be granted citizenship because their religion says to kill Americans, and that welfare recipients “rut like rabbits” because of what he calls welfare’s perverse incentives.

[I]t has had a direct if unheralded hand in recent political battles, sending $500,000 to support the down-to-the-wire campaign for Proposition 8, California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, for example, and sending a crack political organizer to Iowa last fall for the successful drive to unseat judges who had supported same-sex marriage. The group also sponsors “pastor policy briefings” around the country that seek to mobilize evangelical voters.

Though liberal critics call it a hate group, the association and Mr. Wildmon are widely revered in conservative circles. Working in the relative isolation of Tupelo and lacking a magnetic television personality, Mr. Wildmon is not as widely known as other titans of the religious right, like Pat Robertson or James C. Dobson. But last fall Mr. Wildmon was described as “one of the most effective Christian leaders of our time” as he received a lifetime achievement award at the Values Voter Summit, an annual gathering of top religious conservatives.

Personally, assuming that there is a God, I suspect Wildmon has assured himself a special place in Hell for all the hate and misery he promotes.

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