The American Family Association (AFA) claims almost 2.4 million members and calls itself "America's Largest Pro-Family Action Site". Once again, they are nothing more than a front for the radical religious right. They have co-opted the words "American" and "Pro-Family" and turned them into synonyms for "Christian".
On the front page of their site, as I write this (01/30/05), they have headlines about:
- how you can help make public display of the ten commandments legal in all public places
- how P&G chairman A.G. Lafley donated more than $5000 to gay activists in Cincinnati to help repeal a very restrictive and discriminatory law against domestic partners (that affected heterosexual partners as well)
- how PBS is promoting the "homosexual agenda" by showing a cartoon in which one character has two moms
- how DOMA is being challenged in California
- how to defend the Christian faith in the post-modern world.
And that's just a small sampling. The AFA also runs a site called nogaymarriage.com where those opposed to gay marriage can sign a petition to be sent to the US Congress.
Like most of the RRR groups, the AFA also has two main branches: one educational and one legal/lobbying. The legal arm of the AFA is the Center for Law and Justice— again, note how they usurp the word "justice" to mean protecting only the Christian viewpoint. According to the Center's hompage, "The Center responds to the requests of Christians for legal representation involving first amendment free speech and free exercise rights as well as the constitutional issues involved in the continuing battle against pornography and obscenity." (It behooves us now to remember that the radical religious right considers homosexuality both pornographic and obscene.)
The AFA started out as the National Federation for Decency in 1977. Founded by Donald E. Wildmon, the organizations original goals were aimed at fighting the influence of the entertainment industry on "traditional family values" (ie, white, heterosexual Christian male values— again, co-opting the definition of a word to make it fit their agenda). In 1988, the name was changed to the American Family Association, but the goal remained the same.
The AFA holds the entertainment and media industries at least partially responsible for the high teen sex rate, the STD epidemic, HIV/AIDS and abortion rates. Like TVC, the AFA tends to focus the majority of their energy in fighthing the proverbial "homosexual agenda"— which it appears to believe is being promoted by Hollywood and the media. In late November, 2004, the AFA released a warning to parents about the movie "Shark Tale". While "Shark Tale" has no outwardly gay characters, the AFA believes that "the story and dialogue demonstrate an implicit approval of [Lenny's] homosexuality."
One of the AFA's favorite tactics is to call for boycotts of sponsors and advertisers of programs and shows it considers to be "unChristian" or "pornographic" or "obscene". These boycotts have met with little success and in fact have often brought opposite results. The AFA's "alerts" and calls to boycott simply focus the media spotlight on stations and advertisers and programs that are trying to broaden the horizons of viewers and to educate and put on the table for later discussion issues like equal rights for gays. Often times, every AFA protester is countered by someone who supports what the AFA does not.
For example, back in December of 2003, the AFA conducted a poll about gay marriage and whether or not you supported it. They were supposed to take the results to Congress to show that the AFA's stand on the issue represented that of the American public. But as it turns out, more than 49% favored legalization and another 8+% favored civil unions with the same rights as marriage. Not exactly the results the AFA was looking for to support their contention that the majority of Americans don't favor gay marriage.
However, on occasion, a call to boycott is successful. Just recently (12/05), Ford Motor Company agreed to pull ads for its Jaguar and Land Rover from gay magazines and other media. In May of 2005, the AFA announced it would call for a boycott of Ford for the companies support of GLBT rights and workplace diversity. Ford insists its decision to pull the ads was purely a business decision but admits that it was in "negotiations" with the AFA, who called off its planned boycott after Ford folded.
Because their boycott tactic often doesn't work, the AFA has begun to take a new approach. They simply buy the licenses to local translator radio stations (those stations that are usually unmanned and simply rebroadcast shows done elsewhere) and fill the airwaves with their propaganda. Sadly, one of the biggest losers in this area has been NPR and shows that once challenged listeners to think for themselves are now exhorting them to simply conform.
Groups like the AFA, who hide behind religion and use misrepresentation and innuendo and fan the flames of fear in order to win support for their politicized religious agenda are proliferating daily. How do we stop these kinds of groups from having the influence that they do? For that, please check out The Solution section.
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