Searching For Bryan Fischer: One Top Social Conservative’s Record Of Xenophobia

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August 16, 2010 4:40 a.m.
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Top social conservative Bryan Fischer has attracted a lot of notice over the last week for his polarizing comments about Muslims. And while Fischer may be the “Director of Issues Analysis” for the conservative Christian group the American Family Association, AFA spokesman Cindy Roberts remains emphatic that his “analysis” of the “issues” is his and his alone. Roberts told TPM that Fischer’s writings, many of which are featured on Fischer’s AFA website blog “Focal Point,” are “his personal opinion” and “not AFA’s position.”

But Fischer and the AFA alike, both with ties to mainstream conservative politicians, have a long and colorful history of championing social conservative causes that are often discriminatory, and in some cases, just plain bizarre.As we’ve reported, Fischer said last week that he thinks there should be “no more mosques, period” in the U.S. because “every single mosque is a potential terror training center or recruitment center for jihad.” He is also convinced that Gov. David Paterson is trying to impose sharia law on New York because he offered to help the Cordoba House developers get state land for their Muslim community center if they agreed to relocate from the controversial planned site a few blocks from Ground Zero.

But last week didn’t exactly mark Fischer’s first day on the anti-Muslim job. Last year, he called for a ban on Muslims in the military after Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood back in November. Fischer said his views were “not Islamophobia,” but “Islamo-realism.” He then followed up with a call to “restrict Muslim immigration to U.S.” and “repatriate Muslim immigrants to Muslim countries which share their values.”

“Should any nation welcome to its shores immigrants who have a solemn, sacred obligation to kill as many of their hosts as possible?” Fischer asked. “That’s a form of suicidal insanity.” (h/t RightWingWatch.)

And Fischer’s not a particularly big fan of gays and lesbians either. He’s written that the U.S. should impose “legal sanctions for homosexual behavior,” argued that “a practicing homosexual should not serve in public office,” and claimed that Hitler used gay soldiers because they “basically had no limits and the savagery and brutality they were willing to inflict on whomever Hitler sent them after.”

Fischer’s also expressed outrage that Indian-Americans win a lot of spelling bees, claiming that the U.S. needs to “stop this outrageous display of ethnic favoritism.” He’s expressed some glee over a reported trend that more educated women are having fewer children, which he interpreted this way: “What this means quite simply is that liberals are breeding themselves out of existence.”

And, in arguably his strangest position, Fischer wrote that killer whale Tilikum, who killed a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando in February, was just a part of the “ongoing failure of the West to take counsel on practical matters from the Scripture.” Fischer quoted Exodus to prove his point: “To use the example from Exodus, if your ox kills a second time, “the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death.” Fischer continued: “If the counsel of the Judeo-Christian tradition had been followed, Tillikum would have been put out of everyone’s misery back in 1991 and would not have had the opportunity to claim two more human lives.”

Roberts, the AFA spokesperson, did tell TPM last week that Fischer’s blog posts were not official AFA positions, especially regarding the “Ground Zero mosque”: “We’re not taking a stand on anything about the mosque situation.”

But the AFA itself is also known for taking on pet conservative causes that often appeal to the right-wing fringes. The AFA, a non-profit, describes its purpose as follows:

The American Family Association represents and stands for traditional family values and exists to motivate and equip citizens to reform our culture to reflect Biblical truth on which it was founded.

For example, the AFA put out an August 3 press release that encouraged supporters to email the public relations director of Sears because “Sears is currently offering giant posters of total nud**y on its website. Sears knows they are selling smut.”

The release links to the posters — or rather, links to a warning page about the sexual content of the posters, which then links to another warning page about the sexual content of the posters, which then links to the posters (admittedly NSFW) — but also describes them for the faint of heart: “These aren’t just posters of scantily-clad women. Some of them depict groups of people, lesbians and others engaged in ***ual activities. Very little is left to the imagination.”

Other recent AFA boycotts include the Home Depot and The Today Show, in both instances because the AFA disagreed with their positions on gay rights.

AFA Action, the public policy arm of the group, focuses more on objectionable non-Christian goings-on in politics. After Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim member of Congress, took his swearing-in photograph with his hand on the Koran, the AFA asked: “What book will America base it’s values on, the Bible or the Koran?” In July, 2007, the AFA called it an “abomination” that a Hindu gave the opening prayer at the day’s Senate session, since he would be “seeking the invocation of a non-monotheistic god.”

But the AFA is not just another fringe conservative group. It is a mainstay among social conservatives, with close ties to many Republican politicians.

Several Republican lawmakers appeared alongside Fischer at a live webcast hosted by the Family Research Council back in March, including Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).

And, as ThinkProgress reported, many Republicans often appear on the AFA’s talk radio arm. Sens. Sam Brownback (KS) and Mike Johanns (NE) are frequent guests.

When TPM asked Roberts about these ties, and about the AFA’s co-sponsoring of September’s Values Voter Summit which features a litany of mainstream Republican politicians, she insisted that the AFA “[doesn’t] endorse any party.”

But the summit website’s list of invited and confirmed speakers tells a slightly different tale. So far, in addition to Fischer himself, former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), Pence, former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR), Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), and Bachmann are confirmed speakers. Others, like Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, and Mitch McConnell were invited but are not yet confirmed, and are featured on the website. There are no Democratic elected officials on the list.

Editor’s Note: This post has been edited since it was first published.

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