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.
Don't believe everything you hear! I'll be on air same time tomorrow as always 1-3pm CT, on http://t.co/sI2xhN0XQd. Tune in!
— Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer) January 29, 2015
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.