INTRODUCING, PSYCHOTIC, CHERRY-PICKING, BUYBULL THUMPER, CHRISTOFASCIST OF HATE, BRYAN FISCHER.
The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Bryan Fischer as the following:
Bryan Fischer, a nationally syndicated Christian radio host, has a long history of anti-gay activism. In 2009, he began garnering national attention after he was hired by the American Family Association (AFA), which the Southern Poverty Law Center listed as an anti-gay hate group in 2010. Since joining the AFA as director of issue analysis for government and public policy, Fischer has used the group’s website and its radio network to promote outrageous and false claims about LGBT people, Muslims, Native Americans and African Americans. Despite Fischer’s extreme views – like blaming gay men for the Holocaust, calling for the criminalization of homosexuality, and calling for the banning of Muslim immigration to the U.S. – prominent conservatives continue to appear on Fischer’s radio show.
Bryan J. Fischer’s early years were spent in Colorado, according to One News Now, an American Family Association (AFA) online news source. His family moved to northern California when he was in the eighth grade. Fischer developed his religious beliefs initially through his father, a Baptist pastor. He attended Stanford University and, while a student there, got involved with Peninsula Bible Church, where the pastor preached what Fischer calls a “masculine, muscular Christianity” that appealed to him. Fischer graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy but continued to study and serve as a pastoral intern at Peninsula. While there, he met and married his wife, Debbie. Fischer then attended the Dallas Theological Seminary, where he received a graduate degree in theology. In 1980, he and his wife moved to Boise, Idaho.
In Boise, Fischer was affiliated with Cole Community Church, where he founded and directed the Cole Center for Biblical Studies. Thirteen years later, he founded Community Church of the Valley, where he served for 12 years as pastor. But Fischer wasn’t just preaching; he became active in politics and networked with a variety of conservative legislators. In 2001, he was appointed chaplain to the Idaho Senate.
In early 2004, while still at Community Church, Fischer co-founded the “Keep the Commandments Coalition,” with Boise pro-life activist Brandi Swindell, in an attempt to block the removal of a Ten Commandments monument from a Boise public park. The city was planning to return the monument to the Fraternal Order of Eagles, which had placed it in the park in 1965. Keep the Commandments Coalition filed a lawsuit to prevent the removal, but U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge turned down its request and on April 8, 2004, he ordered Swindell and Fischer (and Swindell’s group, Generation Life) to pay more than $10,000 in city attorney fees. In 2006, the coalition succeeded in getting the monument issue onto a local ballot, but Boise voters overwhelmingly approved the removal. By 2008, neither Fischer nor Swindell had paid the ordered attorney fees, and the city notified the two that the amount was overdue. Eventually, Fischer and Swindell asked supporters for donations and paid off the full amount.
Fischer left the Community Church of the Valley in 2005 under unknown circumstances (the church changed its name to Christian Life Fellowship a year later) and started the Idaho Values Alliance (IVA), which was loosely allied with the AFA. The IVA’s mission under Fischer, according to its website in 2007, was to promote and defend “our God-given rights and liberties,” promote and defend religious freedom, the Judeo-Christian tradition, the sanctity of the family, sanctity of life, and to “promote judicial responsibility and restrain judicial activism.”
From this new pulpit, Fischer found a few more callings that would boost his profile: public crusades against LGBT people, lobbying the legislature against gay rights, and becoming the face of Idaho Christian conservatism in local media. The media-savvy “Reverend,” as he was known, was always available for a sound bite or quote with regard to “family values,” and he found a platform to espouse his conservative opinions on topics that ranged from women’s issues, health, science, constitutional law, climate change, civil rights and LGBT people. Fischer was described in a 2009 editorial at NewWest.net as constantly “lobbying for anti-everything causes.”
Fischer jumped into debates about LGBT rights with zeal. His quotes appeared hundreds of times in Idaho news outlets as the conservative “balance” to LGBT rights supporters. He and the IVA launched a public campaign against LGBT people that culminated in the 2006 passage of Amendment 2 to the Idaho constitution. The amendment prohibits same-sex marriage and prohibits the state and local governments from recognizing any kind of domestic legal union unless it’s between a man and a woman, effectively disenfranchising Idaho’s LGBT couples.
Fischer’s anti-gay propagandizing has long relied heavily on falsehoods that can be traced to the discredited psychologist Paul Cameron. Like Cameron, Fischer has equated homosexuality with pedophilia; claimed that same-sex parents are a danger to children; claimed that LGBT people don’t live as long as heterosexual people; and said that LGBT people are more promiscuous and more prone to domestic violence than heterosexuals. He also has falsely claimed that hate crime laws protect pedophiles.
Fischer found another way to denigrate the LGBT community when he discovered the Holocaust revisionist work of Scott Lively, whose Abiding Truth Ministries was first listed as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2007. Lively’s Pink Swastika makes the claim that the Nazi Party was filled with gay men (and that Hitler himself was gay), and that because of the “savage nature” of gay men, they were able to instigate and carry out the Holocaust. Lively’s work has been roundly and fully discredited by reputable historians, but facts never seem to bother Fischer. He touted Lively and his bizarre Holocaust revisionism in 2008 on the IVA website, agreeing wholeheartedly with Lively’s claims that gay men caused the Holocaust, and he has since continued to reference Lively’s work to link homosexuality to the Nazi Party (most recently in 2010).
For the amount of media attention Fischer received as executive director of the IVA, it was a small operation. Fischer was the only paid employee, and his wife, Debbie, and daughter, Jana, were listed as trustees in 2006. In the group’s 2008 annual report, Debbie was listed as the secretary and treasurer, and Jana was still a trustee, though based in Indiana. The IVA struggled financially; its revenue was only $9,000 in 2006.
In June 2009, Fischer announced on the IVA website that he had accepted a position with the AFA. He seemed to have had some trouble finding someone to take the helm of the IVA, however, and the group went into hiatus. The IVA’s 2009 tax returns listed Tupelo, Miss., as the address – Fischer and family moved there, where the AFA is based – and it wasn’t until September 2010 that Gary Brown, up until then a pastor of NorthStar Church in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, known for his abstinence-only beliefs, became the new IVA director.
Fischer continued his campaign against LGBT people when he joined the AFA, where he serves as a radio host and blogger at the AFA website “Rightly Concerned” and at the Christian website RenewAmerica. In 2009, his posts became aggressively anti-Muslim. It didn’t take long for his inflammatory rhetoric in that regard to attract national attention. The horrific event that propelled him onto the national stage was the November 2009 massacre at Fort Hood, Texas, in which Major Nidal Hasan shot 12 people to death. In response, Fischer called for the U.S. military to ban Muslims. His statements landed him soon after on former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Person” list.
Since then, Fischer has called for a ban on Muslim immigration to the U.S., said that inbreeding may have affected Muslim intelligence and sanity, and claimed that the Bill of Rights grants freedom of religion only to Christians. He has also continued his virulent anti-gay propagandizing, calling for the regulation of homosexuality in the same manner the U.S. regulates cigarettes, and said that homosexuality should be as illegal as IV drug use, and that, “Ultimately we need to get to appropriate sanctions for the act [of gay sex] itself.”
In 2010, Fischer’s columns began appearing on the ironically named “Moral Liberal” website, which claims to be “liberal” in the tradition of the Founding Fathers. The Moral Liberal’s mission is to promote “the Judeo-Christian ethic, limited government, and That Heavenly Banner: The U.S. Constitution.” Other contributors include self-proclaimed Christian “Patriot” Chuck Baldwin; right-wing grande dame Phyllis Schlafly; World Net Daily columnist and antigovernment activist Henry Lamb; and Selwyn Duke, a frequent commentator on the hate-laced Michael Savage radio show.
Some of Fischer’s statements have entered the realm of the absurd. In a November 2010 blog post at the AFA site, Fischer groused that the Medal of Honor, like American culture in general, was being “feminized” because it was awarded to soldiers who saved their comrades rather than soldiers who “killed people.” Fischer demanded to know when it would be awarded again to “soldiers who kill people and break things so our families can sleep safely at night.” In another post that month, he called for “open season” on grizzly bears because two people were killed by bears in 2010 and “God makes it clear in Scripture that deaths of people and livestock at the hands of savage beasts is a sign that the land is under a curse.”
In 2010, the AFA distanced itself from Fischer’s views, despite keeping him on staff and giving him a two-hour daily radio show, which is heard on nearly 200 radio stations owned and operated by the AFA’s American Family Radio network. In 2010, a disclaimer started showing up on Fischer’s blog posts stating, “Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.”
In a blog post in early February 2011, Fischer claimed that Native Americans deserved to lose control of North America because their “superstition, savagery and sexual immorality” morally disqualified them from “sovereign control of American soil.” Furthermore, Indian reservations remain mired in poverty and alcoholism because they refuse to accept Christianity. That post created such an outcry, even for Fischer, that the AFA removed it from its blog site. The post also disappeared from RenewAmerica. A young AFA staffer, Elijah Friedeman, 17, issued his own statement on the AFA blog, in which he called Fischer’s claims “repulsive.” He also stated, “I want to officially reject and distance myself from that viewpoint.” The AFA removed Friedeman’s post, as well.
The AFA also changed a post Fischer wrote in early April 2011 that called for Muslims to get rid of their Islamic beliefs before they come to the United States. Three paragraphs of the post were rewritten; the edited version called instead for people who wanted to immigrate to adopt “our values, our heroes, and our history.” Fischer followed that about a week later with a blog post claiming that government welfare ruins African-American families by encouraging them to “rut like rabbits.” The wording of the post was later changed to state that random and reckless promiscuity is bad, whether someone is “Caucasian, Hispanic, or African-American.”
On his radio show on May 12, 2011, Fischer fulminated about First Lady Michelle Obama’s invitation to the rapper Common to read poetry at the White House. Fischer said Common was “cut from the same bolt of cloth” as the president. Obama, he claimed, “nurtures this hatred for the United States of America and, I believe, nurtures a hatred for the white man.”
Despite the fact that he’s finally seemed to run afoul of even the AFA’s standards, Fischer keeps getting attention, even in the mainstream media. In January 2011, Newsweek published a profile, calling him “the media’s new poster boy for right-wing extremism.” But none of his antics have stopped the stream of notable conservative guests from appearing on his show. His guests have included a number of high-profile politicians, including Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann, Haley Barbour and Newt Gingrich.
Despite the embrace of mainstream figures on the right, Fischer’s propaganda grew ever more ludicrous. In 2011, he asserted that LGBT people are America’s leading perpetrators of hate crimes. The reality is, they are the group most victimized by hate crimes. In January 2012, Fischer claimed that the HIV virus is a “harmless microbe” that does not cause AIDS.
In His Own Words
“Homosexuals are rarely monogamous and have as many as 300 to 1,000 sexual partners over the course of a lifetime. … [T]he risk of sexual abuse in a homosexual household is much greater than in a heterosexual household.”
– Bryan Fischer Web post, “The Truth about Gay Marriage and Civil Unions,” 2006
“It is time, I suggest, to stop the practice of allowing Muslims to serve in the U.S. military. The reason is simple: the more devout a Muslim is, the more of a threat he is to national security.”
– Bryan Fischer Web post, “No More Muslims in the U.S. Military,” 2009
“Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.”
– Bryan Fischer Web post, “Homosexuality, Hitler, and ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” 2010
“[T]he most compassionate thing we can do for Americans is to bring a halt to the immigration of Muslims into the U.S. This will protect our national security and preserve our national identity, culture, ideals and values. Muslims, by custom and religion, are simply unwilling to integrate into cultures with Western values and it is folly to pretend otherwise. In fact, they remain dedicated to subjecting all of America to sharia law and are working ceaselessly until that day of Islamic imposition comes.”
– Bryan Fischer Web post, “Time to Restrict Muslim Immigration to the U.S., Send Them Back Home,” 2010
“Many of the tribal reservations today remain mired in poverty and alcoholism because many native [sic] Americans continue to cling to the darkness of indigenous superstition instead of coming into the light of Christianity and assimilating into Christian culture.”
– Bryan Fischer Web post, “Native Americans Morally Disqualified Themselves from the Land,” 2011
“Welfare has destroyed the African-American family by telling young black women that husbands and fathers are unnecessary and obsolete. … We have incentivized fornication rather than marriage, and it’s no wonder we are now awash in the disastrous social consequences of people who rut like rabbits.”
– Bryan Fischer Web post, “Jesus Groomed His Apostles for Political Office,” 2011
Various Stories about Bryan Fischer.
Fischer: The Media Is Collapsing Because It Has Been Mean To Kim Davis
On his radio program today, Bryan Fischer continued to complain about the fact that the Vatican has distanced itself from Kim Davis after the controversial Kentucky county clerk met with Pope Francis when both were in Washington, D.C., last month.
Fischer blamed the “low-information media” for supposedly trying to destroy Davis’ reputation and asserted that it is just this sort of thing that is causing the institution to collapse.
“Nobody is watching the low-information media anymore,” he said. “Their rating are going through the basement. Newspapers are closing down, they’re shutting down, they can’t sell subscriptions, they can’t sell advertising space. Why is that? It’s become of stuff like this, because of what the low-information media does, they way they turn on good-hearted, ordinary decent people like Kim Davis. Demonize her, vilify her, mock her, ridicule her and the American people say, ‘No, I’m not down with that. That’s not an American thing to do. That’s not fair. There’s nothing kind about that.'”
“They want to harpoon this woman,” he stated, “and that’s why people are turned to the low-information media.”
Words Have Consequences: Anti-LGBT Hate Crime
The American Family Association’s chief spokesman, Bryan Fischer, has a special fondness for calling gay people ugly names.
The American Family Association’s chief spokesman, Bryan Fischer, has a special fondness for calling gay people ugly names.
They are “perverts” and “sexual deviants,” he says. They are 10 times more likely to molest children than heterosexuals, he claims against all the scientific evidence. They were specially selected by Hitler because “homosexual soldiers basically had no limits” to their “savagery and brutality” — an assertion no serious historian agrees with. LGBT activists are “Nazis” who will “do the same thing to you that the Nazis did to their opponents,” he insists, and gay people are “the single greatest perpetrators of hate crimes on the planet, outside the Muslim religion.”
Well, not really. Actually, LGBT people are the minority who, by far, are the most victimized by hate crime violence in the United States.
An analysis of 14 years of FBI hate crime data by the Southern Poverty Law Center found that LGBT people are more than twice as likely to be attacked in hate crimes as black people or Jews. They are more than four times as likely to be attacked as Muslims. And they are vastly more likely to suffer violent hate crime attacks than either Latinos or, especially, white people. Fischer’s claim that gay people regularly target Christians for hate violence is completely unsupported.
Fischer and the American Family Association would certainly deny it, but it seems obvious that their reckless rhetoric contributes mightily to an atmosphere in which hate violence is all but inevitable. Fischer calls himself a Christian, but he is remarkably quick to bear false witness against his LGBT neighbors.
The Story Behind the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer
By Judy May-Chang and Jill Kuratis
November 15, 2011
Gay-basher Bryan Fischer is famous for his bigotry. What’s less known is how ‘mainstream’ Idahoans jump-started his career.
For a week or two this August, the spotlight of national media attention cast a harsh light on a prayer rally in Houston entitled “The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis.” Although it was billed as a non-political event held only to ask God for unity and righteousness, The Response drew a roster of hard-line religious rightists best known for their gay-bashing rhetoric.
Some of those who were scheduled to speak merely caused the eyes of the critics to roll, like the “prophetess” who earlier in the year blamed the mass die-off of blackbirds in Arkansas on the acceptance of homosexuality. The heavy criticism centered on the American Family Association (AFA), a group that aggressively promotes “decency” in the media with a $20 million-a-year budget and a network of some 200 American Family Radio stations, and that paid for the event.
The AFA, after all, had come under fire many times since its founding in 1977 by the Rev. Donald Wildmon, who has repeatedly suggested that obscene content on television and in the movies is largely due to the media being controlled by Jews. On one occasion, the AFA demanded that an openly gay Arizona congressman be barred from speaking at the Republican National Convention and suggested that he be arrested under a state law criminalizing sodomy. A former network entertainment executive once called the AFA’s boycotts “the first step toward a police state.”
But the criticism this summer of the AFA, fueled in part by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s 2010 listing of the organization as a hate group, really came down to the remarkable utterances of one man: Bryan Fischer, the loquacious, baby-faced “director of issue analysis” who joined the Tupelo, Miss.-based group in 2009 and has become its best known, and most eyebrow-raising, spokesman.
Fischer, 60, graduated from Stanford University with a philosophy degree, but that hasn’t stopped him from claiming that “[h]omosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews” — a complete falsehood, as any historian knows.
Nor has it prevented him from suggesting that gay sex should be penalized in the same way heroin use is, or asserting that gay men and lesbians should be forced into controversial “reparative therapy,” which improbably claims to “cure” people of their homosexuality. Since joining the AFA, Fischer has said, against all the evidence, that “homosexuals, as a group, are the single greatest perpetrators of hate crimes on the planet, outside the Muslim religion.” He has claimed that non-Christian religions “have no First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion,” which would have been a surprise to the authors of the Bill of Rights. He said that the “sexual immorality of Native Americans” was part of what made them “morally disqualified from sovereign control of American soil.” He even suggested the best way to deal with promiscuity would be to kill the promiscuous.
Fischer did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Not content with insulting the LGBT community, the sexually active, Muslims and virtually all other non-Christians, Fischer has even crossed the Rubicon of race, saying that President Obama “nurtures this hatred for the United States of America and, I believe, nurtures a hatred for the white man.” In case that wasn’t enough, he recently added that welfare had “destroyed the African American family” and was incentivizing black “people who rut like rabbits.”
These facts are well known. But what may be most remarkable of all about Fischer, aside from the fact that an organization that has more than 2 million people on its E-mail list hired him, are some of the details of how he spent almost 30 years as an increasingly radical pastor in Idaho. Despite being passed over as senior pastor of one church and abruptly leaving another, Fischer eventually came to be treated as the state’s leading voice of the Christian Right, wrote regular guest columns in the state’s largest newspaper and was named chaplain of the Idaho State Senate.
The Early Years
Bryan Fischer was born on April 8, 1951, in a small town in Colorado, and moved in his early teens to California. Later, while attending Stanford, he landed an internship at Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, where he was befriended by senior pastor David Roper, a man who would influence him strongly. Three years after graduating in 1973, he married Deborah Marie Rogers, who is still his wife.
Roper had attended Dallas Theological Seminary, the top ideological powerhouse of the most conservative wing of the evangelical movement. Fischer followed in his mentor’s footsteps, graduating from the seminary in 1980.
While Fischer was in Dallas, Roper left California to become pastor of the Cole Community Church in Boise, Idaho, where he would remain for the following 17 years. Roper told the Intelligence Report that, later in 1980, he invited Fischer to join him in Idaho to help start the Cole Center for Biblical Studies. The center would become known regionally for the prominent locals who it graduated.
At the time, however, Fischer had markedly different theological views than he does today, said Dennis Mansfield, who started the Idaho Family Forum and was then the state’s leading Christian Right spokesman: “Bryan brought me in to debate about his opposition to Christians being involved in government; he was a fierce opponent of it then. My opinion was that we should be involved in everything, and his was theological isolationism. I remember three debates where I crossed swords with him and found him to be one of the most intelligent men I’d ever known. But I won the debates, and … he did not like being beaten by the likes of me.”
As time passed, Fischer increasingly embraced the strain of “dominionist” theology that suggests that Christians should seek to control government as well as spiritual matters. Simultaneously, a church insider said, Fischer developed a group of his own personal followers and was ultimately asked to leave the church.
Roper denied that, saying Fischer left because he had “decided he wanted to do more in the political realm.” But Mansfield, who remains friends with Fischer after many years, said that Fischer was passed over when Roper decided to leave Cole Community Church. “Roper announced he was leaving and that he would select a successor,” Mansfield said in an interview. “A church of three to four thousand people is a significant Pacific Northwest church to be leader of. Ultimately, when the decision was announced, Roper chose a different pastor to head it up. Bryan was dumbstruck and he told me he was resigning from his position.
“I would imagine he felt so dishonored that the order of things didn’t follow his ideas,” Mansfield said. “He and his wife were distraught they weren’t chosen. He departed Cole Community [in 1993] and never looked back.”
Mansfield said that very few people came forward to support Fischer then and that the two became close as a result. At a lunch held to discuss Fischer’s future, Mansfield said he detected “a real brokenness and humility in Bryan, and openness to new opportunities. He came up with the idea of a community church, one that would have a different angle… . That became Community Church of the Valley.”
As he consolidated his new Boise church, Fischer began to gain real prominence in the state. He was first quoted in The Idaho Statesman, the state’s largest newspaper, in 1999. It was the beginning of his rise to national stature.
“I used to be the go-to religious-right person for media in Boise because of IFF [the Idaho Family Forum],” said Mansfield, whose theological views have since softened considerably. “Then I ran for Congress and lost to [now-Gov.] Butch Otter in 2000 and, of course, became invisible. There was a gap without a spokesman for the religious right, so Bryan stood up to be that person.”
Onward and Upward
Bryan Fischer was on his way to local celebrity. But that ascent was only really cemented in 2001, when the state’s Republican then-majority leader, present-day U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, appointed him as the Idaho State Senate chaplain.
Even though the position was essentially honorary, paying $16.86 an hour to deliver prayers to the Idaho Senate, it gave Fischer easy access to the Republican leadership in a state that has long been completely dominated by the GOP. Word of the appointment of Fischer was not universally welcomed.
“The choice of one of Idaho’s most polarizing religious leaders has sent shock waves through the state’s churches and has some powerful senators reeling,” The Idaho Statesman reported in a Jan. 13, 2001, news story. It said that the Senate’s assistant majority leader and majority caucus chairman had no idea that Fischer had been hired until he delivered the opening Senate session prayer that year.
Betsy Russell, president of the Idaho Press Club and long-time Boise bureau chief for The (Spokane, Wash.) Spokesman-Review, said the post mattered. “One of the reasons he was able to achieve a platform is because he was given one by the state of Idaho quite officially: He was chaplain of the Senate. He held an official position… . I guess you could say he was a state-endorsed clergyman.”
In the immediate aftermath of Fischer’s appointment, a woman named Jennifer Boyd wrote a letter to The Idaho Statesman. Boyd said she was a former member of Fischer’s Community Church of the Valley and recounted how she was excommunicated. “Fischer removed me from his congregation after my divorce,” she wrote, “which he deemed unacceptable, non-biblical and sinful.” She angrily accused Fischer of speaking “out of both sides of his mouth. … [H]e said one thing while he did another. … [H]e judges people … based on limited knowledge.”
Despite the controversy, The Idaho Statesman began to quote Fischer regularly. Between 1999 and 2009, when Fischer would leave the state, the newspaper quoted him in nearly 100 news stories and printed 16 of his guest editorials — huge numbers in the relatively small Boise media market.
“Obviously, Fischer relies on polarizing messages that catch the attention of reporters, but it felt like he was able to control the narrative around issues of reproductive, queer and immigrant rights,” said Amy Herzfeld, executive director of the Boise-based Idaho Human Rights Education Center, a nonprofit group. “I do think that many Idaho news outlets helped Fischer earn national accolades.”
Like Jennifer Boyd, Mansfield recalled being disillusioned with his friend’s ministry. In 2000, his son was arrested for possession of a marijuana pipe. The story made the local papers because Mansfield was then running for Congress.
“We went to Bryan and asked what to do, and he was at a loss,” Mansfield said. “He didn’t have a practical solution. I thought, ‘This isn’t helping anybody!’ We went looking for another church that had solutions.” Mansfield said that families already had begun leaving the congregation “in battalions.” For him, the church had become a “professorial, debate-society culture” that did not offer solutions.
Fischer did not react well to his departure, Mansfield said. “With Bryan, it was as if I had betrayed him. I was just another person who left his church.”
Another Church Conflict
In the following years, Fischer developed a reputation for asserting men’s “authority” over women — a position that made some in his congregation uncomfortable, along with many in the larger community. On Aug. 21, 2005, for instance, Fischer said in a sermon that while Scripture says that men and women are “equal in essence and existence and worth,” they are “NOT equal in authority.”
That fall, the Dalai Lama was scheduled to visit Idaho as part of events surrounding the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. In the run-up to the visit, Fischer disparaged Buddhism in remarks to his congregation, calling it a “godless myth” and a “terrible deception” that came “from the father of lies.”
But that didn’t stop him from joining an interfaith discussion with the Dalai Lama, along with 100 other representatives of a variety of faiths and denominations in the region. There, he questioned the Dalai Lama about the nature of evil, telling a reporter afterward that the Dalai Lama’s view of it was “simplistic.”
Things were coming to a head at the Community Church of the Valley. Mansfield, who had helped get the church started, said that church elders “had a meeting about a conflict with Bryan over who had the final say in the church.” Fischer insisted that he did, but Mansfield said it was actually the board.
Exactly what that conflict was remains something of a mystery. Four days after the Dalai Lama’s visit, Fischer gave his last sermon at the church he had founded 12 years earlier. The following Sunday, a former ally, elder Robert Weisel, gave an emotional sermon about the prior week, saying how “sick last Sunday” had made him and speaking of the “ruin of friends.” He mentioned how another elder had been “vilified” and apologized to his fellow elders as a group. He said without explanation that the congregation had defeated the enemy of the Gospel.
Fischer departed the church. The next summer, it changed its name to Christian Life Fellowship, but many members left for other congregations in the aftermath of what looked to the larger community like a major split.
Fischer rebounded quickly. In late 2005, he incorporated the Idaho Values Alliance (IVA) as a nonprofit controlled by Fischer, his wife and their daughter. In 2007, the IVA became the state affiliate of the American Family Association.
Off the Deep End
Fischer was now a public figure who was well known for his fondness for “hot rhetoric,” as the Idaho Press Club’s Russell put it. But he crossed another line in May 2008, when a fundamentalist conference called “Shake the Nation” was held in Idaho. One of the invited speakers was Scott Lively, whose book The Pink Swastika falsely claims that gay men largely orchestrated the Holocaust.
After getting some criticism, Fischer responded with a press release saying the book was “well researched” and “documents the well-known historical fact that the Nazi Party was birthed in a gay bar, that Adolph Hitler’s inner circle included many homosexuals, and that many if not most of the Brown Shirts, his notorious ‘Storm Troopers,’ were also homosexuals.” None of this, of course, was true.
But that didn’t seem to bother Fischer. And it clearly didn’t bother the AFA, which hired Fischer the next year as its director of issue analysis and moved him to Tupelo, Miss. Since that time, he has been a prolific blogger and the host of a daily two-hour AFA radio program, “Focal Point.” In recent months, the AFA has added a disclaimer to Fischer’s blog postings, but he remains its top spokesman.
And what a spokesman he is.
This summer, he said that despite the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision to the contrary, there is “no reason” why gay sex should not be recriminalized in all 50 states. Earlier, he summed up his view of “homosexual activists.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, they are Nazis,” he said in July on his AFA radio show. “Do not be under any illusions about what homosexual activists will do with your freedoms and your religion if they have the opportunity. They’ll do the same thing to you that the Nazis did to their opponents in Nazi Germany.”
That seems highly unlikely, to say the least. But it did underline the attitude of the AFA, whose officials did not seem to have read any of Fischer’s comments when they signed on to an ad accusing their many critics of “character assassination.”
Jody May-Chang is an independent journalist specializing in LGBT and social justice issues. Jill Kuraitis is a journalist who specializes in human rights and the Rocky Mountain West. Both are based in Idaho.
CHRISTOFASCIS’S COMMENTS ON BRYAN FISCHER.
This is what happens when you come from generations of inbreeding. You get twisted, cherry-picking buybull thumping psychotic ChristoFascists like Bryan Fischer. As he demands that gays and lesbians be forced into that bullshit reparative therapy? Fischer should be picked up and immediately brought to the local Mental Health Hospital and given a full-frontal lobotomy. He is freaking brain dead any damn way, not much more harm could be done with the drilling into this ChristoFascists brain bucket and scrambling what is left of his grey matter there. It would be doing the world a favor, to allow Fischer to spend the rest of his days, drooling, in a chair in a mental ward, where he can no longer spew his Reich-Wing, Hitler, Nazi, ChristoFascist bs against anyone any longer.