Friday, January 30, 2015

Bryan Fischer Fired, but Still Blogging and Blabbing for AFA

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Previous Related Post:
Hate Radio Host Bryan Fischer Ousted By Christian Group


There's more on the alleged "firing" of Bryan Fischer from the Christian group American Family Association (AFA).

Rachel Maddow covered it on her show again Thursday night, pointing out that Fischer and the AFA had attacked Mitt Romney in 2012 because he was a Mormon, calling his religion a "cult" that worships a "false god." Yet mainstream RNC leader Reince Priebus and other members of the GOP are traveling to Israel this weekend on the dime of the AFA. As Rachel points out, they don't have to get on the plane Saturday morning. But I bet they do!

From Think Progress
... In reality, this might not actually change very much for Fischer. After Maddow broke the story, Fischer tweeted, “Don’t believe everything you hear! I’ll be on air same time tomorrow as always 1-3pm CT, on . Tune in!” Wildmon’s description of Fischer as “just a talk show host” isn’t so different from the many times that AFA has stipulated that Fischer does not speak on the organization’s behalf, even when he’s speaking on their radio network or writing for their news site. Though his bio has been scrubbed from AFA’s site, all of his written content remains. The incident may perhaps be an embarrassment to AFA and to Fischer, but if he’s continuing to do his radio show, his status quo — the podium AFA provides him — might not have actually changed at all.
Maddow pointed out during her segment that Fischer’s extremism was not a problem when AFA funded Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) pre-presidential prayer rally, nor for Louisiana’s Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R) recent prayer rally, but the Republican Party’s reputation in Israel may have been just a step too far.

Here's a great lampoon of Fischer babbling about how The Gays Caused the Holocaust in a song by James Rustad:
"Jesus Loves Me, This I Know, Cause Rick Perry Tells Me So, If I Die I'll Go To Hell Says Governor Bobby Jindal."

Basically the AFA demoted Fischer but didn't take away his talk show, so while he isn't technically a "spokesman" for the group, essentially he still is their mouthpiece. So the AFA may think everyone is as gullible as Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal and their members seem to be, but no one is buying that Fischer is gone from their organization. It's also doubtful that the Jewish Press is going to believe it in time to save the RNC's trip to Israel which starts this weekend.

From The Advocate
The AFA apparently decided to downplay Fischer’s role amid an uproar over the fact that the group is sponsoring a trip to Israel this weekend for nearly 100 members of the Republican National Committee. The AFA is virulently antigay and on the far right concerning every other issue — the progressive Southern Poverty Law Center classifies it as a hate group — but Fischer is its most outrageous face.
Fischer's remarks over the past few years read like a playbook of antigay hyperbole: that Adolf Hitler’s most savage enforcers were gay soldiers (ignoring the fact that Hitler’s regime sent gays to concentration camps); that gays and Mormons may be plotting together to legalize polygamy; that “flaming homosexuals” will storm Christian bookstores and demand jobs if antigay discrimination is banned nationwide; that the Supreme Court ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act was a bigger legal travesty than the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin; and that if schools are teaching LGBT history, they should include the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah.
And that’s just Fischer on LGBT issues — he has also said that religions other than Christianity have no right to free exercise under the First Amendment, that Muslims are traitors, and that believers in evolution should not hold public office.

Fischer also wrote a post yesterday on the AFA's official blog called
The U.S. Should Support Israel Because God Does
God here declares one simple, abiding truth: he will deal with the nations of the world as they deal with Israel.

A nation which stands with Israel will receive a blessing from God. A nation which stands against the Jewish people (Nazi Germany comes to mind) will rest under a curse.

You can argue all day if you’d like about whether the United States is a Christian nation. The evidence is indisputable that it is, but one thing no one can dispute is that the United States has been kind to the biological and spiritual offspring of Abraham.

. . . The Jewish people zealously protected, preserved, and passed on the very words of God as recorded by the ancient prophets and historians in Israel. Our faith as a Christian nation is rooted in Jewish soil. No Judaism, no Christianity.

Abraham is our father in the faith, the Ten Commandments our guiding standard for both personal and public morality, and the Jewish prophets of old still a source of inspiration. (You can ask Martin Luther King, Jr. about that.)

That blog post is really just a recap of Fischer's beliefs in "Christian Founding Fathers."

As Wonkette Described Fischer's Beliefs, Dec. 11, 2014
Bryan Fischer Has Magic Constitution That Says First Amendment Is Only For Christians

Yesterday, the AFA group sent a letter to the Southern Poverty Law Center further distancing themselves from Fischer's core beliefs:

From Right Wing Watch
AFA rejects the idea expressed by Bryan Fischer that "Free exercise of religion" only applies to Christians. Consequently, AFA rejects Bryan's assertions that Muslims should not be granted permits to build mosques in the United States;

AFA rejects the ideas expressed by Bryan Fischer that the violent expulsion of Native Americans was divinely ordained and that, "Superstition, savagery and sexual immorality" morally disqualified Native Americans from "sovereign control of American soil."

AFA rejects the ideas expressed by Bryan Fischer that "we" need to clamp down on immigration because Hispanics are socialist by nature and vote Democratic because it allows them to "benefit from the plunder of the wealth of the United States."

AFA rejects Bryan Fischer's characterization of minorities as "people who rut like rabbits."

AFA rejects the statement by Bryan Fischer that, "Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews."

AFA rejects the policy advocated by Bryan Fischer that homosexual conduct should be illegal

AFA rejects the notion advocated by Bryan Fischer that, "We need an underground railroad to protect innocent children from same-sex households."

AFA rejects Bryan Fischer's statement that, "If Hillary Clinton becomes president In 2016, she will not only be our first female president, she could be our first lesbian president."

....In light of this notice, do not continue to charge AFA with the statements by Bryan Fischer that we have repudiated. When identifying "hate groups" in the context of training military or law enforcement personnel, do not put AFA in a false light by quoting Mr. Fischer's statements that we have repudiated.

SPLC responded yesterday

SPLC President Richard Cohen, in a letter to the AFA today (see below), wrote that “it’s difficult to see the AFA’s disavowal as anything other than an effort to quell the negative press attention you’re receiving in connection with your sponsorship of an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel for members of the Republican National Committee.”
. . . Cohen noted that other AFA officials, including its president, Tim Wildmon, and founder, Don Wildmon, also have made statements “that reflect narrow-minded bigotry” and that AFA printed materials have demonized the LGBT community.
“Without ending Mr. Fischer’s talk show, without apologizing for the bigoted statements that he, Mr. Wildmon, and others associated with the AFA have made, and without making it crystal clear that the AFA will not tolerate any such statements in the future, the AFA’s 11th-hour disavowal of Mr. Fischer appears to serve only one purpose: to give the AFA a degree of plausible deniability while it continues to spew hateful rhetoric,” Cohen wrote. “It’s a shell game and a transparent one at that.”

Complete Letter from SPLC to AFA ~ Here

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hate-Radio Host Bryan Fischer Ousted by Christian Group

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Rachel Maddow broke the news last night on her MSNBC show that wiggedy-whack Evangelical Bryan Fischer has been fired as spokesman from the group American Family Association, which is a cheerleading and money-raising support group for the Tea Party and the far-right wing of the GOP.

This is a complicated story, and will be ongoing for some time to come. The basic plot is that the American Family Association has paid for members of the RNC (Republican National Convention) to take a trip to Israel starting next Sunday. The Jewish press then discovered that the AFA has some, ahem, not-quite-Jewish-friendly members, such as Evangelist and Hate-Radio Talk Nut, Bryan Fischer.

The story below gave the RNC good reasons to pressure AFA to fire Fischer. Although frankly, this isn't news to anyone familiar with the Southern Poverty Law Center, Hatewatch, or the Evangelical movement.

Headline Story from Haaretz:
U.S. NGO: Evangelical 'hate group' funding Republican National Committee trip to Israel
Evangelical political operative planned 9-day freebie trip for national committee members, on behalf of the conservative Christian AFA group which blasts Muslims, gays. SPLC rights group staffer: Our issue is not with the trip, but with the 'heinous beliefs' of those sponsoring it.

The The AFA is described as a "hate group” and "extremist group” by the SPLC, an Alabama-based civil rights nonprofit, because of statements it made that are deemed anti-LGBTQ, anti-Latino and anti-black, and which suggest that the United States is a country for Christians only.
“The AFA has an extensive track record of bigotry and hate,” SPLC president and CEO Richard Cohen wrote in a letter to each member of the RNC, urging them not to go on the free trip.
Bryan Fischer, the AFA’s director of issue analysis, has said that black people “rut like rabbits.” Moreover, in a September essay, he wrote: “We are a Christian nation and not a Jewish or Muslim one.” On a video segment on MSNBC’s "Rachel Maddow Show" last Friday, Fischer was seen blasting gay activists as “jack-booted homo-fascist thugs,” and depicting Islam as “an Ebola virus that is lethal and deadly.”

So in order to save some kind of dignity for this trip to Israel, the group threw Fischer under the bus. However, he still has his radio show where he can continue to hate the Jews and everyone else as much as he wants.

From Right Wing Watch:
From what we have been able to gather, Fischer has not actually been dismissed by AFA but has rather merely been stripped of his title as director of issues analysis and his role as spokesman for the organization. Fischer will reportedly continue to produce his daily radio program for the AFA's radio arm, American Family Radio.
If this is indeed the case, then the AFA has literally accomplished nothing with this stunt and has completely failed to distance itself from Fischer's utterly despicable views. The primary venues though which Fischer has managed to spread his bigotry for the last six years have always been owned, operated, and funded by the American Family Association and that relationship appears to remain intact.

And of course, his departure is probably just the tip of iceberg, since most AFA members espouse the idea of America as a "Christian Nation" above all other religions. That's clearly why they have kept Fischer around all these years, in spite of the controversy. So will this firing make much difference? Not really. Other members of the group agree with him!

There is still their wingnut leader David Lane, quoted by Haaretz:
. . . Asked why he organized this trip, Lane said, “Who’s the best friends of Israel? The 65 to 80 million evangelicals in America who read their Bible and believe in the Abrahamic covenant.”
. . . Lane is a longtime behind-the-scenes, evangelical Christian political operative who rarely speaks to the press. In an interview with Haaretz, however, he said his work involves “mobilizing pastors in pews around the country” to be politically involved.
His American Renewal Project is working to persuade 1,000 evangelical pastors to run for public office in 2016.
“The Lord gave me this model of mobilizing pastors to try and engage the culture. Somebody’s values are going to reign supreme,” Lane told Haaretz, adding, “America was founded by Christians for the glory of God and the Christian faith.”
Lane said he’s taking a total of 98 people on the nine-day trip to Israel, which begins on Saturday, January 31. Participants will travel from the Galilee and Golan Heights to Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, he told Haaretz, with Jewish tour guides and two evangelical pastors in tow. In addition to Priebus and his wife, guests include Susie Hudson, who last week was elected RNC secretary, and Jewish conservative radio talk-show host Dennis Prager.
. . . Asked who exactly furnished the approximately $400,000 that Lane says the trip will cost, he declined to share specifics. “I know people who love Israel and want influential people to travel there and see the reality of the land of Jesus,” he told Haaretz.
. . .

More on David Lane at Right Wing Watch

So the American Far-Right and Israeli Judaism are strange bedfellows. Evangelicals say that they share the same family-values with Orthodox Jews, even while they whisper among themselves that "Jews are the Pharisees who killed Jesus." Israel gets support from the GOP and Evangelicals because of Biblical Prophecy that talks of Israel's downfall during the future apocalypse of Armageddon, during which the "wings of eagles" (the United States) will save them from the Antichrist (Muslims), or something like that. It's a strange connection - the Evangelicals believe the Jews are doomed and only Jesus can save them, which isn't what most Jews want to hear.

Political Israelis such as Bibi Netanyahu use this fervent support from the Right to pull stunts, such as teaming up with John Boehner to diss President Obama over Iran in the House of Representatives. And they use it to get more money for "security in the Middle East." But the truth is, there isn't much real common ground between the Jews and the Evangelical side of the GOP, so things can fall apart in a hurry.

. . .When “The Rachel Maddow Show” asked AFA President Don Wildmon what prompted Fischer’s ouster, Wildmon specifically referenced Fischer’s bizarre assertions connecting Nazis and homosexuality. Fischer, of course, originally made these remarks years ago, and has repeated related comments in the years since, but talking to us last night, Wildmon now says, “We reject that.”
As of last night, Fischer’s bio page on the AFA website has been removed.
. . .  the American Family Association, despite years of right-wing extremism, is partnering with Reince Priebus and members of the Republican National Committee on a trip to Israel, which created an awkward dynamic. Why would the RNC team up with a group whose spokesperson says things like, “Counterfeit religions, alternative religions of Christianity have no right to the free exercise of religion”?
Nearly 100 RNC members are scheduled to participate in the AFA-sponsored Israel trip, which begins this weekend. It’s against this backdrop that, all of a sudden, Fischer is no longer the religious right group’s spokesperson.