One of the most vocal opponents of LGBT equality, Bryan Fischer, is apparently no longer a spokesman, nor the “Director of Issues Analysis,” for the American Family Association (AFA), an anti-LGBT hate group. Fischer’s termination appears to be related to comments he has been making on his AFA-sponsored radio show for years and seems to serve the purpose of providing political cover to some 60 members of the Republican National Committee who will enjoy an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel on AFA’s bill, as first reported by Rachel Maddow Wednesday night.
AFA President Tim Wildmon confirmed the sudden firing to MSNBC, describing Fischer now as “just a talk show host” who is no longer associated with the organization. He was apparently fired specifically over comments he has made over the years suggesting the Nazi Party was started by gay people, that Adolf Hitler recruited gays into his Army for their savagery, and that gay activists are modern-day Nazi Stormtroopers. Maddow pointed out on her show that Fischer regularly claims that the First Amendment only applies to Christians. The litany of awful things Fischer has said that might justify the firing is too long to recount, but he has also called for an “Underground Railroad” to kidnap children away from same-sex couples, he believes that AIDS is caused by drug use instead of HIV, and he has called for homosexuality to be criminalized.
The firing follows an article published earlier this month by Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, which reported on handful of Fischer’s various comments in connection with AFA’s sponsorship of an impending visit from some 60 members of the RNC. The trip is being funded through the American Renewal Project, a subsidiary of the AFA that is trying to recruit 1,000 Christian pastors to run for office in 2016. Haaretz noted that David Lane, head of that project, has also claimed that “America was founded by Christians for the glory of God and the Christian faith,” asserting his goal of “re-establishing a Christian culture.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) may have also helped motivate Fischer’s firing with political pressure on the RNC. Earlier this month, it sent a letter to RNC offices across the country reminding officials of AFA’s extreme views on a smattering of issues. SPLC President Richard Cohen applauded the RNC’s commitment to Israel, but warned, “Accepting funding from an extremist group like the AFA would make a mockery of that commitment and legitimize its extremism.”
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 http://www.afr.net . 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.
Fischer said on his show Thursday that all that happened was that his opinions will simply no longer be confused with AFA’s. A lawyer from AFA wrote to the Southern Poverty Law Center rejecting a full list of opinions Fischer has held over the years, urging the group to no longer identify AFA as a “hate group.” The SPLC pointed out in a response that AFA is still giving Fischer a platform, and more importantly, there is still plenty of evidence to warrant calling AFA an anti-LGBT hate group even ignoring everything Fischer has ever said. Perhaps most importantly, the AFA “has done nothing to apologize or make amends for the harm that Mr. Fischer has caused.”