Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has partnered with the American Family Association (AFA) for a large prayer event this August called “The Response.” The AFA is an SPLC-designated hate group whose spokesman, Bryan Fischer, recently called gays “Nazis” who commit hate crimes and “virtual genocide” against Christians.
When asked by the Texas Independent if he agrees with Fischer’s remarks, Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger described AFA as “an organization that promotes safe and strong families” and claimed that “other controversial statements made have nothing to do with what the Governor is trying to promote”:
“Governor Perry is looking forward to the event. AFA is an organization that promotes safe and strong families. These controversies aren’t relevant to the event, Governor Perry is focused on what he is trying to accomplish, which is bringing America together in prayer for the nation.”
Asked again if Perry agrees with Fischer, she said, “This event is about prayer focused on bringing America together for challenges faced, these comments don’t have anything to do with this event.”
She added, “[Perry] is very clear with his faith. His priority with this event is bringing people together.”
She also said, “Those statements and other controversial statements made have nothing to do with what the Governor is trying to promote.”
Almost every Republican presidential candidate has described the AFA as a legitimate Christian group, appearing on Fischer’s radio show and endorsing some of his extreme policy prescriptions. Newt Gingrich has provided $125,000 to the group and also refused to condemn Fischer when confronted with his statements by ThinkProgress.
Perry has invited all 49 governors to the rally, even though the Interfaith Alliance and Secular Coalition for America are urging them to reject the invitation due to the extremist nature of the group. Contrary to Perry’s dismissal, AFA’s President, Tim Wildmon, told the Houston Chronicle that one of the purposes for The Response — “to pray for an end to the ‘debasement of our culture’ — refers to the increasing acceptance of homosexuality by American society.”A protest of the event is also being coordinated on Facebook. [HT: Right Wing Watch]