Type of Organization: Lobbying, Media
The American Family Association is a Christian lobbying organization who has stated that their mission is to “inform, equip, and activate individuals to strengthen the moral foundations of American culture, and give aid to the church”. The organization was founded by David Wildmon, a former pastor at the First United Methodist Church in Southaven, Mississippi. At the core of the AFA’s mission is their self-proclaimed promotion of “traditional moral values” which often takes the form of attacks on marginalized groups. The AFA has a wide reach, with a budget of over 16 million and 200 radio stations in 33 states, and the organization’s activism efforts often allow them to put a finger on the political scale in favor of conservative candidates.
Islam is a favorite for the AFA among a litany of marginalized targets. With the hiring of Bryan Fischer as director of issues analysis, the AFA ushered in a new era of heightened anti-muslim sentiment. Fischer was quoted in 2011 equating Islam to a “toxic cancer” and calling for an end to Muslim immigration in the U.S. Earlier that same year, Fischer claimed that “Muslims have no First Amendment right to build mosques in America” and called for a revocation of the “liberty” to do so that had been granted to them. Fischer has repeated a claim that Islam is “dedicated to the destruction of the United States” in many separate articles.
Another prominent figure in the AFA is Sandy Rios, who serves as both a radio host and the organization’s director of governmental affairs. Rios has often displayed anti-Islamic sentiment and was quoted in 2013 both echoing Wildmon’s claim that Muslims are devoid of first amendment rights and further describing Islam as “a complete and total system that demands usurpation of whatever the local authority is, it demands to dominate it, it demands to conquer, to kill or convert.”
In August 2018, Bryan Fischer was suspended from Facebook following a post on his page, which is directly linked to the AFA, that violated the social networking company’s “hate speech” rules. The post in question saw Fischer ask whether it “might be a good idea to keep Muslims from serving on ground crews” in the aftermath of an incident at Seattle International Airport where a non-Muslim ground crew member stole a plane and later crashed it.
The AFA is currently headed by Tim Wildmon, the son of Donald Wildmon, who stepped down in 2010 following 33 years as the organization’s president. Wildmon has been quoted displaying strong anti-Muslim sentiment, such as a 2012 quote wherein he stated that “[Islam] is, in fact, a religion of war, violence, intolerance, and physical persecution of non-Muslims.”
In 2015, prominent members of the Republican National Committee took part in a trip to Israel to, as then senior committee official Sean Spicer wrote, “see some of the historical sights of Israel and to advance their understanding of U.S.-Israel relations.” The trip came under fire after it was reported that it was being sponsored by the American Family Association.