From the Intelligence Files of the Southern Poverty Law Center:
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.
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
Background 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.