American Family Association claims to ID anti-Christian group with ridiculously deceptive map
The American Family Association’s new “Anti-Christian Bigotry Map,” which claims to identify LGBT groups nationwide, is long on hype and short on facts. You might even call the map and its categories of “anti-Christian, humanist, atheist and homosexual agenda” laughable — if it weren’t so deceptive.
In Texas for instance, the map identifies Human Rights Campaign chapters in Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, Houston and San Antonio with little rainbow-colored balloons. I wonder how long someone in the Mississippi-based organization worked to compile that silly list, given that there are countless local LGBT organizations statewide easily identified.
The interactive map allows the viewer to isolate by state the different categories. The list is led by a colorful “homosexual agenda” icon that sort of resembles a hot air balloon — an apt, albeit unintended image for this map to be sure. The AFA map features about 200 icons nationwide that provide obscure group names in most cases.
HRC quickly ridiculed the map’s publication on its website, noting that the organization maintains no offices in certain cities listed on the map. “…We will not be able to meet at HRC’s offices in Dallas and Austin that are included on AFA’s map because they don’t exist. Gosh darn.”
The Texas map also identifies anti-Christians in Houston and San Antonio; atheists in Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, Denton, Houston, Lubbock and Corpus Christi, and humanists or “freethinkers” in North Texas, the Panhandle, East Texas and Central Texas. It would appear the humanists escaped detection as to exactly where they congregate.
At the bottom of the map, the AFA gets down to the real business at hand by listing the national headquarters of the Human Rights Campaign, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network and Freedom from Religion Foundation. The HRC blog noted that the AFA list also “oddly included” the American Association of Retired Persons and People for the American Way, but those groups appear to no longer be included on the map.
AFA claims on the map HRC “bullies American corporations to embrace sexual perversion and encourages lawsuits against Christian-owned businesses and states.” It accuses SPLC of labeling Christian organizations supporting the Biblical definition of marriage as hate groups, and it claims GLSEN “infiltrates public schools with pro-homosexual indoctrination tactics.” FFRF “threatens, intimidates and sues local governments and public schools to abolish all public references to the Christian faith,” according to the AFA.
What is most interesting about the AFA interactive map is that it poorly imitates the Southern Poverty Law’s Center’s comprehensive annual list of hate groups, which includes the AFA. The list names 939 groups, including white supremacists of all varieties, anti-government gangs and LGBT-bashers, which are gleaned from extensive research.
SPLC began including anti-LGBT groups on its hate group list soon after its founding in 1971 because white supremacists and others often targeted LGBT people in propaganda and hate crimes.
SPLC President Richard Cohen said in an email to Dallas Voice that with the map’s publication the “AFA is continuing with its big lie — its claim that we’re anti-Christian. We’re obviously not.”
Cohen noted SPLC also disagrees with the policies of Focus on the Family on a variety of issues, but the organization is not included on the annual hate group list because it maintains a higher level of integrity than AFA. “…We would not call Focus a hate group because, unlike groups like the AFA, Focus does not routinely spread demonizing lies and propaganda about the LGBT community,” Cohen said. “And in the case of the AFA, its bigotry is not limited to the anti-LGBT variety.”
The AFA’s publication of the map seems to prove Cohen’s point because it seeks to spread resentment against non-Christians as well as LGBT people. The propaganda also ignores the affiliation of millions of LGBT people with the Christian faith. AFA leaders attempt to portray LGBT people as deviants who want to overthrow Western Civilization by destroying traditional Judeo-Christian values.
Since AFA’s founding in 1977 under the former name of the National Federation for Decency the group has sought to censor publications and television broadcasts, disseminate false information about LGBT people and their relationships and promote “ex-gay” therapy. Methodist minister Donald E. Wildmon founded the group, but he stepped down after 33 years, leaving his son, Tim Wildmon, to carry on his anti-LGBT campaign, that sometimes has targeted minority groups such as Muslims and Native Americans who refused to convert to Christianity.
AFA, which depends on donations and the sale of books and other propaganda to operate, is largely ineffective and professionally disrespected as the publication of its map shows. Still, it manages to keep operating because enough people buy into the organization’s untruthful and alarmist propaganda to fund it.
About the best we can do as a community is to continue to support the organizations that we know tell the truth and work for our benefit. Now AFA has unwittingly identified them for you.
David Webb is a veteran journalist with more than three decades of experience, including a stint as a staff reporter for Dallas Voice. He also previously worked as a researcher and writer for SPLC. He now lives on Cedar Creek Lake and writes for publications nationwide.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 6, 2015.