The People for the American Way have put together a comprehensive report on the American Family Association's spokesman, Bryan Fischer. It includes a complete history detailing how Fischer became aligned with the AFA, and how the GOP is now bowing to Fischer to win his approval for election:
Responsible politicians wouldn’t fawn over an unhinged activist who opposes civil rights and religious freedom for minorities, wants to make being gay a crime and decries his personal rivals as enemies of God, right? But that is exactly what is taking place today in the Republican Party, as likely and declared GOP presidential candidates line up to win the approval of Bryan Fischer, a radio talk show host and spokesman for the American Family Association.
Fischer’s unabashed bigotry is on full display throughout his writings and on-air rants. His entire career is based on leveling venomous attacks against gays and lesbians, American Muslims, Native Americans, progressives and other individuals and groups he detests. He wants to redefine the Constitution to protect only Christians, persecute and deport all American Muslims, prohibit gays and non-Christians from holding public office and impose a system of biblical law.
While Fischer’s views are undeniably shocking, what is most disturbing is his growing influence within not only the Religious Right but also the Republican Party.
Fischer, a controversial figure in religion and politics, advocates making homosexuality a crime punishable by death, condones the murder of abortion doctors, and claimed recently that Hitler's Nazi Party was formed by homosexuals in a gay bar (a historical inaccuracy of great magnitude as Hitler had gays consigned to death camps).
The report continues:
In 2009, Fischer joined the AFA in its national headquarters and was named Director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy. Founded in 1977 by Rev. Donald E. Wildmon, the AFA remains one of the most influential organizations in the conservative movement. Originally named the National Federation for Decency, the AFA has built a substantial political, fundraising and media apparatus for its boycott drives, electoral campaigns and news commentary.
The Tupelo, Mississippi-based group has used its significant financial resources to fund anti-gay campaigns across the country. Most recently, the AFA donated $500,000 to the campaign to pass Proposition 8, the California referendum that overturned marriage equality in the state, and spent $140,000 on the successful 2010 campaign to defeat three Iowa Supreme Court justices who had ruled in favor of marriage equality. Newly-announced Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich bolstered the AFA’s finances by funneling $125,000 to the group to assist their Iowa efforts. The AFA is also hosting The Response with Texas Governor Rick Perry, a prayer rally with the goal of bringing people to Christianity and the support of anti-gay leaders like Jim Garlow, John Hagee, David Barton, Cindy Jacobs, David Welch, and members of the International House of Prayer.
Fischer is the host of Focal Point, the principle talk show on AFA’s American Family Radio, which consists of nearly 200 stations and affiliates in 37 states and reaches about two million listeners. Posnerwrites that Fischer’s clout has increased since Wildmon ended his day-to-day responsibilities at the AFA: “Since the elder Wildmon passed the presidency on to his son Tim last year, Fischer has increasingly grabbed the spotlight.”
Within the AFA, criticism of Fischer or the Wildmons is strictly prohibited – Posner hasdocumented the organization’s autocratic work environment of bullying, fear and intimidation. Most recently, when 17-year-old Elijah Friedeman of the AFA’s TheMillennial Perspective wrote a blog post criticizing Fischer’s assertion that Native Americans are being punished by God for not converting en masse to Christianity, calling his remarks “repulsive,” Friedeman’s blog post was promptly removed from the organization’s website (along with Fischer’s).
Fischer’s career at the AFA has been marked by unremitting bigotry directed at many of the most marginalized American communities: gays and lesbians, immigrants, African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and American Muslims.
In addition, Fischer spews constant vitriol against President Obama, denigrates members of the military who don’t agree with his every position and promotes his own radical interpretation of the Constitution, one in which only Christians have rights, public officials face religious tests for office and homosexuality is criminalized. These radical views, like Fischer himself, have increasingly found a welcoming home in the Republican Party.
The report goes on to say that because of the deep pockets of the AFA, Bryan Fischer has become "an obligatory stop" for GOP candidates, including Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain.
As the AFA’s leading talk show host, whose voice is heard on affiliates in the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, Fischer frequently hosts likely presidential candidates who are looking to make inroads among Religious Right voters. Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and businessman Herman Cain have all appeared on Fischer’s radio show. In addition, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour were both guests on Fischer’s show while they were weighing runs for the presidency.Many of these leading GOP figures have voiced support for Fischer’s bigotry, conspiracy theories and extreme views. Huckabee agreed with Fischer’s claim that President Obama “has some fundamentally anti-American ideas,” and explained to Fischer that he believes the Mau Mau Revolution, the Kenyan uprising against British colonialism in the 1950s, had detrimentally “molded” Obama’s “worldview.” Huckabee added, “Most of us grew up going to Boy Scout meetings and our communities were filled with Rotary Clubs, not madrassas.”
Pawlenty and Barbour both promised Fischer that if elected they would reinstate the military’s discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, with Barbour warning that openly gay troops could bring an “amorous mindset” to the battlefield. When Fischer asked Gingrich how he would “slow down the homosexual agenda” as president, Gingrich pledged to work against gay rights. “I think my emphasis would be pro-classical Christianity,” Gingrich said, “and pro-the values that you and I have.” When asked a similar question, Cain told Fischer that Obama’s decision not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act was “bordering on treason.” Cain later won plaudits from Fischer when he said that he would refuse to nominate any Muslims to serve in his Cabinet because he assumes all Muslims want to impose Sharia law. Bachmann has also joined Fischer to discuss her plans to run for president.
The report shrewdly asks “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?”
Many GOP members of Congress have also been guests on Fischer’s radio show, including: Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, Rep. Steve King of Iowa, Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia, Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho, of Mississippi and Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas. Among the major conservative activists who have appeared on Focal Point are Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, David Barton of WallBuilders, Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum and Amy Kremer of the Tea Party Express.
Journalist and commentator Andrew Sullivan aptly asks, “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?”
The answer appears to be yes. Fischer’s extreme views are become mainstream in today’s Republican Party, and presidential candidates are taking notice.