Dustin Siggins

SPLC urges army to declare American Family Association an ‘extremist’ group

Dustin Siggins
Dustin Siggins
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WASHINGTON, D.C., December 16 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In response to calls by the Southern Poverty Law Center to have the army declare the American Family Association as an “extremist” group, the spokesman for the AFA has shot back, accusing the SPLC of being the true “hate” group.

“The AFA doesn’t hate anyone,” AFA Director of Issue Analaysi and Spokesman Brian Fischer told LifeSiteNews.com in an e-mail. “The real hate in all this debate is coming from the SPLC and is directed toward people of faith. The real hate group here is the SPLC.”

Last week, the SPLC urged Army Secretary John McHugh to list the American Family Association (AFA) as an extremist group. 

According to SPLC's Josh Glasstetter, McHugh should classify the AFA as an extremist group because, he claims, Director of Issue Analysis and spokersperson Bryan Fischer has said homosexuals are responsible for the Holocaust. He also says Fisher has said Muslims should be deported from America, and wants women, Muslims, and homosexuals disallowed from military service.

Earlier this year, McHugh came under fire after a presentation to soldiers identified the AFA as a hate group in the same category as the New Black Panthers and the KKK. He sent out a memo on October 18 halting the Army's inclusion of the AFA as an “extremist” group after “media reports” showed that the classification was spreading throughout the Army's educational courses. 

McHugh said the AFA does not fall under Army Regulation 600-20, which includes classification of extremist groups based upon federally protected classes of people. The AFA, which is considered an “anti-gay” group by the SPLC and others, did not qualify as an extremist group because homosexuals are not a protected group under federal law, he said. 

Glasstetter also cites Department of Defense (DoD) Directive 1325.6, which says service members may not be part of extremist organizations that attempt to deny civil rights. In e-mails to LifeSiteNews.com, Glasstetter maintained that AFA tries to deny homosexuals civil rights, women the right to serve in the military, and Muslims the right to live in America. 

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“The Defense Department regulation on extremist groups includes organizations that 'advance efforts to deprive individuals of their civil rights.' We believe the AFA meets this standard. In addition to its vicious anti-gay bigotry, AFA wants to remove women from the military and deport Americans who practice Islam,” said Glasstetter. “SPLC has designated AFA as a hate group because it demonizes and defames gays and lesbians. The group regularly lies about gays, portraying them as pedophiles and predators, and it openly supports discrimination – including criminalizing consensual sex between adults.” 

“This is what separates AFA from other social conservative organizations and makes it an anti-gay hate group. [While] AFA’s speech is absolutely protected by the First Amendment, the military says that '[h]igher and more restrictive standards of conduct distinguish military personnel from their civilian counterparts.'” 

The SPLC considers the AFA a “hate group,” a designation also given to racist and violence-oriented organizations such as the New Black Panther Party and the KKK. This is a very different standard than the one set by the FBI when it comes to hate crimes – the FBI looks at actual crimes committed, whereas the SPLC has its own standards. The FBI has recently drawn criticism for listing the SPLC as a “resource” on its website.

Fischer told LifeSiteNews.com that the SPLC is conflating some of his personal views with those of AFA. “The AFA has taken no official position on women in combat, Muslims in the military, or the repatriation of Muslims. When I speak on my radio program, the ideas I express are my own, as our disclaimer at the end of every program makes clear. The SPLC is simply in error to think that every time I speak, I am reflecting the official position of AFA.”

Fischer also pushed back against the idea that AFA is a “hate group.” “We advocate as an organization for a robust Christian faith among the American people, the public acknowledgement of God, the abiding moral standards of the Ten Commandments, and the central importance of the family rooted in the marriage between one man and one woman. It is ludicrous in the extreme to compare an organization that defends these values with the KKK, the New Black Panther Party, or any other organization that advocates violence. We have never advocated violence. We believe political change comes through ballots, not bullets.”

While he declined to comment on AFA specifically, DoD spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen told LifeSiteNews.com reiterated Department of Defense Instruction 1325.6, which he says “strictly prohibits military personnel from advocating or participating in supremacist, extremist, or criminal gang doctrine, ideology, or causes, including those that advance, encourage, or advocate illegal discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, religion, ethnicity, or national origin or those that advance, encourage or advocate the use of force, violence or criminal activity.”

“Commanders at all levels take this issue seriously and have the authority to employ the full range of administrative and disciplinary actions against military personnel who engage in these prohibited activities,” said Christensen. “Anything that negatively affects readiness or undermines military values must be dealt with and DoD continues to work closely with criminal investigative agencies to ensure that gang activity in the military is aggressively investigated and appropriately prosecuted.” Christensen noted that each service has its own policies and procedures regarding extremist activity. 

The SPLC has had a growing influence on public policy at the federal level. As LifeSiteNews.com reported in November, it collaborated with the Bush Administration in 2007 and in 2012 a co-founder was invited speak on diversity. The military has also utilized the SPLC for equal opportunity information and data. 

The SPLC has been directly linked to a shooting at the Family Research Council's Washington, D.C. headquarters. The shooter said he found the headquarters on the SPLC's “Hate Map,” and planned to kill people in the building. One guard was wounded in the attack.

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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received millions in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

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If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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