Beliefs Opinion Tobin Grant: Corner of Church and State

AFA (finally!) repudiates Bryan Fischer’s crazy talk, fires him as spokesman

American Family Association's Bryan Fischer
American Family Association's Bryan Fischer

American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer

The American Family Association (AFA) has finally distanced itself from many of the bigoted comments made by Bryan Fischer. The AFA is keeping Fischer as a radio host, but his views are now officially his own and not to be confused with those of the AFA.

Fischer joined the AFA in 2009 as a spokesman, issue analyst, and radio host. Fischer had made a name for himself in Idaho. He served as a pastor and chaplain in the Idaho legislature. After he was fired from his church for being too rigid on not allowing women to serve in any leadership, he became a full-time activist, fighting for public displays of the Ten Commandments and a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage.

Shortly after joining AFA, Fischer started making headlines for his statements that were extreme even among social conservatives. In 2010, he said that Muslims should not be allowed to immigrate into the U.S. and that attending Mosques was a form of treason that should result in deportation and a stripping of a person’s citizenship. He also made statements that gay sex should be a crime and that gays caused the Holocaust.

Read the top-five unbelievable Bryan Fischer quotes

By 2012, Fischer had become a national figure who was featured in both the New Yorker and NPR. Fischer had become an unofficial spokesman for the religious right in the presidential campaign. His only political victory, however, was to pressure Mitt Romney’s foreign policy spokesman, Richard Grenell, to resign. Grenell’s only disqualification? He was openly gay. And, according to Fischer, gays are Nazis who are leading us down the slippery slope to necrophilia.

Fischer and the AFA always stated that Fischer (as radio host) did not always speak for the organization, even though he was a spokesman for the AFA.

Last week, the AFA wrote the Southern Policy Law Center (SPLC) to officially repudiate many of Fischer’s statements on gays, Muslims, immigrants, Native Americans, and minorities. The SPLC lists the AFA as a hate group.

On January 20, the SPLC sent letters to high-ranking Republicans who were invited to visit Israel on an AFA-sponsored trip. The letter listed some of Fischer’s statements. The SPLC said that while it admired a commitment to fight anti-Semitism and to support Israel, participating in an AFA-sponsored trip would “make a mockery of that commitment.”

The SPLC tactic apparently worked. On January 28, the AFA sent a letter to the SPLC that threw Fischer under the bus. The AFA not only said that Fischer no longer speaks for the organization; the AFA repudiated all of the statements the SPLC listed in its letter to Republican leaders.

AFA rejects the idea expressed by Bryan Fischer that “Free exercise of religion” only applies to Christians. Consequently, AFA rejects Bryan’s assertions that Muslims should not be granted permits to build mosques in the United States;

AFA rejects the ideas expressed by Bryan Fischer that the violent expulsion of Native Americans was divinely ordained and that, “Superstition, savagery and sexual immorality” morally disqualified Native Americans from “sovereign control of American soil.”

AFA rejects the ideas expressed by Bryan Fischer that “we” need to clamp down on immigration because Hispanics are socialist by nature and vote Democratic because it allows them to “benefit from the plunder of the wealth of the United States.”

AFA rejects Bryan Fischer’s characterization of minorities as “people who rut like rabbits.”

AFA rejects the statement by Bryan Fischer that, “Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.”

AFA rejects the policy advocated by Bryan Fischer that homosexual conduct should be illegal

AFA rejects the notion advocated by Bryan Fischer that, “We need an underground railroad to protect innocent children from same-sex households.”

AFA rejects Bryan Fischer’s statement that, “If Hillary Clinton becomes president In 2016, she will not only be our first female president, she could be our first lesbian president.”

Fischer remains a radio host for American Family Radio.  He will still have a big megaphone at the low end of your radio dial. But that is all he has. Even at the AFA, his views proved too extreme to defend any longer.

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About the author

Tobin Grant

@TobinGrant blogs for Religion News Service at Corner of Church and State, a data-driven conversation on religion and politics. He is a political science professor at Southern Illinois University and associate editor of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.


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  • So he didn’t get fired for all of his stupid hateful statements but for antagonizing women in the organization.

    The continued existence of the AFA is proof that this is nothing more than a public relations stunt. Their sole purpose is to push Dominionist and anti-gay agendas in to the laws of our land. This is merely a smokescreen to rehabilitate their image in light of their efforts and purpose.

    This is very similar to the LDS “anti-discrimination” bill which was touted in Utah which actually would have given license for rampant discrimination.

  • The AFA rejects all of the things Fischer said while he was their “Director of Issues Analysis” for the past five years. Right. This reminds me of when the National Review fired John Derbyshire for writing a racist article, as if he (and other National Review writers) hadn’t been writing racist and otherwise outrageous stuff for years and years by that point.

    This move is actually not such a great thing, as it allows the AFA to claim that they don’t support all the things he’s been saying on their dime for the past however many years (even though the fact that he still hosts a radio show for them should make it obvious that this was a pure PR move). I much preferred seeing the AFA (and, by extension, conservative evangelicals in general) damaged by association every time Fischer said something insane. It is important for the marginalization of Christianity that prominent Christians with fancy job titles keep saying things that are increasingly socially unacceptable.

  • Kyle Mantyla at Right Wing Watch said it best:
    “… the AFA has literally accomplished nothing with this stunt [firing Fischer] 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.
    Stripping Fischer of his title as AFA spokesman in no way alleviates the AFA of its responsibility for Fischer’s toxic views given that the only reason Fischer even has a platform from which to spread those views is because AFA is providing it to him and paying him to spread them!
    From the very start of Fischer’s time at AFA, the organization has pathetically attempted to have it both ways: providing the very microphone from which Fischer speaks while simultaneously claiming that it bears no responsibility for the message that he sends.
    The AFA’s latest effort to rid itself of Fischer’s rancid reputation is little more than a rhetorical accounting trick aimed at creating the false impression that the organization has wiped Fischer’s bigotry off of its books.”

  • Do not know why anyone pays attention to the SPLC, which was exposed as a crooked money racket a half generation ago.

    It does not seem to occur to you that Grennell’s appointment was spun by the media as social signaling, signaling of a sort that Romney did not intend to make. Grennell’s a flak, not a policy wonk, so readily dispensable. He’s also a troublesome character for other reasons, as is unsurprising among careerist campaign hacks (see the pair to whom John McCain entrusted his campaign).

    Well, if we could communicate with Ernst Roehm and Tom of Finland in whatever portion of the hereinafter they occupy, we can tell them it was all a mirage, and we have Prof. Tobin grant’s authority for a that.

  • Not sure when SPLC became ultimate moral arbiter. As an organization, it is at least as execrablely hackish and ridiculous as BF.

  • So Chris, what’s your opinion on Fisher promotion of the idea that Jews in the United States shouldn’t have religious freedom?

  • “A hate group is an organized group or movement that advocates and practices hatred, hostility, or violence towards members of a race, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or any other designated sector of society”

    Its called wikipedia. You have the internet. You could look these things up.

  • Because they are very good at documenting all the embarrassing and hateful public statements by groups advocating the attacks on the civil liberties of others.

    When SPLC evaluates a group, they use a group’s own statements and acts to hang them. The SPLC’s internet resources have been a bane for political revisionists and those looking for spin control of their public efforts.

  • “Not sure when SPLC became ultimate moral arbiter.”

    When the the SPLC started documenting the activities of hate groups and making their statements open to the general public. The internet has made it very difficult to keep up acceptable a public persona while spewing bigotry among one’s own.

  • To see a great example of a “hate organization” visit When a bigot points their finger at another bigot, they are both bigots. Two wrongs do not equal one right. They simply make the most vocal side look pretty foolish.

    Don’t know how your “family” works, but in mine we talk things over and don’t resort to pointing fingers and name calling. One party must break the cycle for this to change. On this issue, I’ll tip my hat of respect towards whichever side shows compassion toward the other first.