Bryan Fischer, the director of issue analysis for government and public policy at the American Family Association (AFA), makes it a point to say something offensive pretty much every day.
Fischer first came to Americans United’s attention back in 2009, when he told attendees of the Religious Right’s “Values Voter Summit” that Adolf Hitler invented the separation of church and state.
Some months after that, in May of 2010, Fischer penned a column insisting that a killer whale at SeaWorld that had caused the death of a trainer should be stoned to death because the Bible mandates it.
It’s hard to top crazy like that, but Fischer gives it a try on a regular basis. Earlier this week, he told his radio audience that states have the right to ban Islam and to order the destruction of mosques.
Our friends at People For the American Way’s “Right Wing Watch” noted that Fischer was reacting to a report that the country of Angola has banned Islam and is closing up mosques. As it turns out, this story looks to be false, but it gave Fischer the opening he wanted.
Ranted Fischer, “And you ask yourself the question, ‘Well, can we do that here? Could we do that in the United States? Could we make Islam illegal? Could we prohibit the building of mosques?’ And the answer is yes!”
Fischer went on to outline his creative theory: See, the First Amendment begins with the word “Congress” so it only applies to the federal government. It’s only a modern interpretation, he insisted, that applies the amendment to the states.
This is true only if you consider 1868 to be “modern.” That’s when the Fourteenth Amendment became part of the Constitution. As the U.S. Supreme Court had made clear, this amendment applies key provisions of the Bill of Rights to the states.
But let’s say the Fourteenth Amendment had never passed, and states had the right to ban Islam or indeed any other religion.
Who could possibly think that would be a good idea? Short of tyranny or a police state, how would it even be implemented? Would our police divert precious time from investigating serious crimes to round up Muslims (or suspected Muslims), burn their Qurans and raid their meetings? What would happen to these people? Would they be shipped off to prisons or detainment camps?
Maybe each state could create a Department of Religious Purity to sniff out those believers who have the temerity to worship in ways that fail to please Fischer and his band of Religious Thought Police.
I have to wonder if Fischer has ever read a history book. This type of persecution has been tried over and over again. And every time the fruits are the same: violence, torture, death and war. And here’s the biggest irony of all: The religion that is being targeted for persecution often emerges even stronger. (Gee, I seem to recall something like that happening to Fischer’s own religion once. I’m talking to you, Roman Emperor Diocletian!)
I know that Fischer sometimes says these things to stir up the “libruls” and get mentioned on blogs like this. If he were some sort of freelance loon sitting in his mom’s basement posting to an obscure blog he would not be worth our time. That’s not the case. Fischer is in the employ of one of the nation’s largest Religious Right groups, an organization that claims to be harmlessly speaking up for “family values” and faith. It’s also an organization that, I’m sorry to say, has the ears of some powerful people in Washington, D.C.
That organization gives Fischer a national platform to spew his dreams of religious oppression and tyranny. I can only conclude that it must agree with him.
What does this say about the AFA? Well, mainly that the people who run it are either very foolish or very dangerous – and quite possibly both.