The American Family Association (AFA), a Christian ministry group devoted to promoting the preservation of marriage and the family and the sanctity of human life, has been reportedly classified by the U.S. Army as a “domestic hate group.”
Todd Starnes of FoxNewsInsider wrote Monday that several dozen U.S. Army active duty and reserve troops were briefed last week that AFA would be listed alongside the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, the Black Panthers, and the Nation of Islam as a domestic hate group because it advocates traditional family values.
Starnes said a soldier who attended the briefing sent him a photo of a slideshow presentation that defined AFA as a domestic hate group. The soldier wrote: “Under the AFA headline is a photograph of Westboro Baptist Church preacher Fred Phelps holding a sign reading ‘No special law for f***.'”
AFA has no affiliation with the Westboro Baptist Church, known for picketing the funerals of American members of the military.
The soldier, an evangelical Christian who asked to remain anonymous, told Starnes, “I had to show Americans what our soldiers are now being taught. I couldn’t just let this one pass.”
According to the soldier, a chaplain interrupted the briefing and challenged the instructor’s claim that AFA is a “hate group.”
“The instructor said AFA could be considered a hate group because they don’t like gays,” the soldier informed Starnes. “The slide was talking about how AFA refers to gays as sinners and heathens and derogatory terms.”
The chaplain reportedly defended AFA.
“He kept asking the instructor, ‘Are you sure about that, son? Are you sure about that?'” said the soldier.
The soldiers involved in the briefing were later told that they could face punishment for participating in organizations that are defined as “hate groups.”
“I donate to AFA as often as I can,” the soldier told Starnes. “Am I going to be punished? I listen to American Family Radio all day. If they hear it on my radio, will I be faced with a Uniformed Code of Military Justice charge?”
In April, Starnes had reported as well that Lt. Col. Jack Rich, a Pentagon officer, sent an email to Army officers warning them to be on the lookout for soldiers who do not support gay marriage or who disfavor Muslims, equating them with the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazis.
Rich reportedly received this information from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a radical, left-wing anti-Christian organization that has listed AFA and the Family Research Council (FRC), as well as various Tea Party organizations, as “hate groups.” The SPLC has publicly claimed that these organizations are no different than the KKK and Neo-Nazis, groups that participate in violence and acts of terrorism. This demonization continues, despite the fact that an domestic terrorist, Floyd Corkins, went on a mass-shooting spree at FRC headquarters in Washington, D.C. and said he used a map on the SPLC website to target the group.
Starnes indicates that, when he contacted the Pentagon for an answer on the latest Army briefing, no one returned his calls.
AFA’s statement to Starnes reads:
The American Family Association has received numerous accounts of military installations as well as law enforcement agencies using a list compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which wrongfully identifies and defames AFA.
Bryan Fischer, who hosts a talk show on American Family Radio, referred to the Army’s allegations as “libelous, slanderous, and blatantly false.”
“This mischaracterization of AFA is reprehensible and inexcusable,” Fischer told Starnes. “We have many military members who are a part of the AFA network who know these accusations are a tissue of lies.”
Fischer said AFA’s views on gay marriage and homosexuality are not hate but simply a disagreement.
“If our military wasn’t headed by a commander-in-chief who is hostile to Christian faith, these allegations would be laughed off every military base in the world,” he said.
Hiram Sasser of the Liberty Institute also told Starnes he wished President Obama and the Army would treat AFA with the same deference and respect they show those who wish to harm the U.S.
“Why must the Army under this administration continue to attack Americans of faith and smear them?” Sasser asked.