An email sent by a United States Army officer identifies two conservative pro-family groups as "hate groups," and some members of the groups are demanding an apology.
The email reportedly came from a Lt. Col. Jack Rich based at Fort Campbell, Ky., and was addressed to subordinates.
The author attempted to identify "some of the groups out there that do not share our Army values." One of the headings in the email covered "Domestic Hate Groups," and in that group he lists the American Family Association and Family Research Council. It also listed Westboro Baptist Church, which is notorious for holding controversial and disruptive protests against homosexuals.
Jerry Boykin, a retired Army general and FRC's new executive vice president, shared his thoughts on the matter on Newswatch, April 11.
One section on Domestic Hate Groups reads, "The religious right in America has employed a variety of strategies in its efforts to beat back the increasingly confident gay rights movement. Many of its leaders have engaged in the crudest type of name-calling, describing LGBT people as 'perverts' with 'filthy habits' who seek to snatch the children of straight parents and 'convert' them to gay sex."
Bryan Fischer, director of Issue Analysis for the American Family Association, said, "It's outrageous that the FRC and the American Family Association would be designated as hate groups by our own military, particularly Family Research Council."
Fischer claims the Pentagon gets its information on the pro-family groups from the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that includes conservative Christians in its "hate" designations, along with the Ku Klux Klan and other racist groups.
Fischer points out that a man who was convicted of attacking a security guard at the Family Research Council headquarters in Washington, D.C. last summer obtained the location of the FRC from a "hate map" provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
"They designated the FRC and AFA as hate groups simply because we disagree with them on the issue of homosexuality," Fischer said. "Well, disagreement is not hatred and speaking the truth about homosexual behavior is not hate speech, so it's a completely outrageous and unfounded allegation."
The AFA has tried to speak with Lt. Col. Rich and to get a definitive statement from the Army on the email incident, so far without success.
Fischer says his personal belief is that the Pentagon should demote the officer in question.
"The first thing we need to see happen," he said, "is for the Pentagon to distance itself from this email and then from the Southern Poverty Law Center."
Fischer believes the nation's military leaders owe the FRC and AFA "a profound and effusive apology."