The AFA's anti-gay conspiracy theories
Michelle Goldberg printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Dec 14, 2005 at 11:35:13 AM EST

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Americablog has been all over the disgraceful story of Ford's capitulation to the American Family Association. For those not following the sordid episode, this spring the boycott-happy AFA threatened to tell its membership to stop buying Fords due to the automaker's promotion of the "homosexual agenda." The AFA was furious both about Ford's internal policies -- such as its provision of benefits to domestic partners -- and its attempts to promote its cars to gay customers. The AFA later delayed the boycott until December, hoping that car dealers would pressure Ford to give in rather than risk hurting sales. This month, Ford caved -- after secret meetings between the carmaker and the AFA, Ford agreed to cut back on advertising in the gay media.
In the past, American Family Association boycotts have been notoriously ineffective.  As The Carpetbagger Report reminds us:

The AFA launched a nine-year boycott of Disney, for example, during which time none of the group's demands were met and the company enjoyed a surge in profits. The AFA also launched boycotts against Crest toothpaste, Volkswagen, Tide detergent, Clorox bleach, Pampers, MTV, Abercrombie & Fitch, K-Mart, Burger King, the Carl's Jr. hamburger chain, Kraft Foods, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Old Navy stores, NutriSystem, and American Airlines. Late last year, the AFA went after the movie "Shark Tale," because the group believed the movie was designed to brainwash children into accepting gay rights. Then, it was American Girl dolls. Then it was Target for its lack of the word "Christmas" in its advertising. The whole thing is pretty embarrassing, but the AFA just keeps doing it.

And now that they've won a significant victory, they're likely to be even more emboldened. We should hope that, if the AFA is going to get more publicity, mainstream journalists will take a closer look at just what this group stands for. Americablog has a good rundown. Here's just the beginning:

Let's look at some choice quotes from the extremist American Family Association (AFA) and its publications and see just how comfortable Ford Motor Company is with the hateful ideology its new buddy is pushing (note: AgapePress is the AFA's online "news" service):

Does a "Jewish upbringing" lead to a life of crime?

In the March issue of American Family Association Journal, a publication of Donald E. Wildmon's right-wing evangelical activist group, the American Family Association (AFA), author Randall Murphree suggested that a Jewish upbringing leads to hatred of Christians, and by extension, a criminal lifestyle.

Were gays the real evil behind the Holocaust?

Scott Lively, California chapter director of the AFA, is co-author of a book titled, The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality and the Nazi Party, in which he claims that "homosexuals [are] the true inventors of Nazism and the guiding force behind many Nazi atrocities." Lively makes explicit links between his claims about the Nazi party and the modern gay equal rights movement, claiming that "From the ashes of Nazi Germany, the homo-fascist phoenix has arisen again, this time in the United States."

Is Europe "infested" with Muslims who breed "faster than we do"?

"The problem we have with Europe is that [it] is infested with the Muslim population. The reason why is because they multiply at a much faster rate than we do," she says. "When we Christians get married, we have two, three, maybe four children -- after they're born, we start thinking about what college we're going to send them to, what education we're going to give them. The Muslims, on the other hand, are allowed to marry up to four wives at a time," she says, noting that terrorist Osama bin Laden had 27 children.

To me, one of the more sinister aspects of AFA's ideology is its association with anti-gay Holocaust revisionism -- the belief, promoted throughout the hard right, that not only were gay people not targeted by the Nazis, but that they were the primary mover behind Nazism. One of the most important proponents of this view is Scott Lively, AFA's California state director and co-author of a book called "The Pink Swastika." I quote Lively's work in my forthcoming book, "Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism" (which, in the name of self-promotion, I'm going to note is available for pre-order at

"Like their Nazi predecessors, today's homosexualists lack any scruples. Homosexuality is primarily a predatory addiction striving to take the weak and unsuspecting down with it.  The 'gay' agenda is a colossal fraud; a gigantic robbery of the mind. Homosexuals of the type de scribed in this book have no true idea of how to act in the best interests of their country and fellow man.  Their intention is to serve none but themselves."

What's chilling here is that homophobia has mutated into a giant conspiracy theory, with gay people seen as a malign and powerful subversive force plotting to destroy the rest of society for their own gain. They've taken the place that Jews used to occupy in grand reactionary demonologies.  (The chapter in my book that Lively appears in is called "Protocols of the Elders of San Francisco").  There's a grim irony that Ford, started by a man Hitler used to affectionately call Heinrich, should be negotiating with such demagogues.

Wildmon's and Dobson's "Protocols of The Elders of San Fransisco" conspiracy mongering clearly opens them up to charges of "false witness" :

One approach to shutting down this sort of viciousness would be to enlist Christian groups and organizations in a pledge to avoid "false witness" - those who signed on could post a little seal of approval on their websites, but the heart of it would be that signatories would agree to provide some measure of proof - publicly aired - for contentious claims.

Just a thought. I'm sure there are countless other ways to approach this but what I think is important is that such utterly absurd, bad faith, hateful claims be publicly condemned by the rest of American Christendom - those who do not publicly condemn such statements are themselves complicit at some level.

"Dr. James Dobson Family News, April 2004

Dear Friends,

I write to you today with a profound sense of concern and apprehension for the welfare of the family, and indeed, for the future of our nation. I do not recall a time since the beginnings of Focus on the Family, 27 years ago, when the institution of marriage faced such peril, or when the forces arrayed against it were more formidable or determined. Barring a miracle, the family as it has been known for more than five millennia will crumble, presaging the fall of Western civilization itself. This is a time for concerted prayer, divine wisdom and greater courage than we have ever been called upon to exercise.

For more than 40 years, the homosexual activist movement has sought to implement a master plan that has had as its centerpiece the utter destruction of the family. The institution of marriage, along with an often weakened and impotent Church, is all that stands in the way of its achievement of every coveted aspiration....."

by Bruce Wilson on Wed Dec 14, 2005 at 02:03:03 PM EST
One particular user--and I'm glad to see this pointed out--of that particular bit of Holocaust revisionism (and yes, I AM going to call it what it is--it's Holocaust revisionism just the same as the claims by Neo-Nazi groups that the Holocaust didn't happen or was smaller than claimed are Holocaust revisionism) known as the "Pink Swastika"--is the AFA, and in particular AFA affiliates.

In the dominionist megachurch I walked away from (one which, ironically, also specifically targets Jews for conversion to "Messianic Jews" aka Kosher pentecostals--and yes, this includes within Israel itself) I remember Frank Simon (who not only is a deacon there but is head of the American Family Association of Kentucky and is also head of his own group, Freedom's Heritage Forum, which now essentially operates as a lobbying wing of the church and of the AFA-KY) being heavily promoted.

Frank Simon, along with all his other particularly nasty flavours of anti-gay hate speech, promoted "The Pink Swastika" prominently in Freedom's Heritage Forum literature.

(Yes, Frank Simon is a particularly foul sort--we're talking Paul Cameron or Michael Marcavaige levels of gay-hate.  Among other things, every time a Fairness ordinance has come up for vote he has posted pamphlets (which themselves count as borderline porn) claiming that gay men want to rape children and support NAMBLA (a group that supports sexual relationships with pre-teenage boys and adult men), including posting of pamphlets in grocery stores and mailings to houses with young children; the last mailing (which was sent to 60,000 houses) is almost singlehandedly responsible for the passing of the Fairness Ordinance because two city commissioners were so disgusted by Simon's last mailing that they specifically voted for Fairness in protest of Simon's tactics.

(Simon has a an extensive history of this, and on DefCon America's boards I've noted the specific history of how I am, unfortunately, all too familiar with Simon and his idiocy.

(Of note, Simon not only quotes quite a bit from "The Pink Swastika" but also relies heavily on Paul Cameron's spew.)

by dogemperor on Wed Dec 14, 2005 at 08:14:08 PM EST

Ford needs to worry about making better cars, not making better friends with pressure groups who want to steer car buyers away from American-made cars, based on some ideological agenda. With friends like the American Family Association, who urge the automaker to curb marketing to one of the most educated, affluent American demographic groups, Ford could drive itself right out of business.

Sure, AFA could cost Ford some sales by urging them to cut marketing to gay and lesbian couples and their families. But what value would an AFA boycott add to Ford's bottom line? Would dominionists actually buy more Ford autos if they came with a sticker that read, "This car is built Ford tough. And if you support gay rights, then tough! We don't want your business."

No, at some point, the corporate community is bound to push back against the dominionist sects, because sex sells, but sects don't sell. Hate campaigns may take off like wildfire, but they don't sell cars like hotcakes.

by jhutson on Wed Dec 14, 2005 at 05:33:01 PM EST
My "to do" list includes calling my mother to suggest that she put in a call to her local Ford dealership letting them know that she'll not be replacing her '94 wagon - her second consecutive Ford bought new from the same dealership - with a new Ford unless the company reverses its decision on this one. In fact, I think I'll mention this to everyone in my personal circle. Hey, we all do what we can.

Ford will just have to consider this: in supporting the AFA's hate campaign, the company may be losing more potential customers than gay Americans.

I know I won't buy a Ford either because of this.

by Bruce Wilson on Wed Dec 14, 2005 at 05:50:13 PM EST

I believe in foregiveness, and Ford's policies have tended towards the progressive.... giant SUV's aside.

But, any Ford representatives might consider this forum a bellweather - Ford's capitulation to the hate lobby of the Christian right has been duly noted.

by Bruce Wilson on Wed Dec 14, 2005 at 07:34:22 PM EST

Apparently the massive uproar online--including on Talk2Action--has gotten Ford thinking twice about capitulating to the AFA:

(from recent CNN release)

Advertisements featuring Ford Motor Co.'s eight vehicle brands will run in gay publications, the automaker said Wednesday, acting after gay rights groups complained when Jaguar and Land Rover pulled their spots.

Ford is not ordering those luxury brands to resume their specific ads. Rather, the company's ads in the publications will promote all of its lines, which also include Ford, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercury, Volvo and Aston Martin.

Something tells me--and the television reporting of this hints at this--that Ford's turnaround is the direct result of people discovering documents showing how Ford was bullied by the AFA and how Ford willingly pulled the adverts.

One wonders if the AFA will reinstitute their "boycott" and whom Ford is going to worry more about keeping as customers--the dominionists, or the rest of us.

by dogemperor on Wed Dec 14, 2005 at 07:51:17 PM EST

And that site's coverage seems to have missed this nuance that you've noted :0

"Ford is not ordering those luxury brands to resume their specific ads"

by Bruce Wilson on Wed Dec 14, 2005 at 07:55:54 PM EST

John Aravosis has been the driving force behind this campaign as he was behind the earlier campaign to get Microsoft to back down after they seemed to abandon their usual gay-friendly policy. For those who haven't been following the Ford campaign, check out to see how it's done. You'll have to scroll down to see the lengthy history of this multi-pronged Ford "attitude correction." One of the most important outcomes is that the story has made it to the MSM. WaPO has a good article that John links to. When you've got a blog that big and a lot of loyal, active readers, you can take the right's tactics and turn them right back on them. And AFA is refusing to comment. The war may not be won yet but another important battle has been!

by Psyche on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 01:22:27 AM EST

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