The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) urged the U.S. Army Thursday to rethink its decision to allow soldiers to belong to hate groups like the American Family Association (AFA).
According to a post by the SPLC's Josh Glasstetter, Army Secretary John McHugh caved in to pressure from right-wing media to have the AFA declared an acceptable organization for soldiers to belong to. Now, the SPLC is urging McHugh to re-think that decision.
The SPLC has long listed the AFA as a hate group, not because of its Judeo-Christian focus, but because of the organization's long-standing habit of calling LGBT people child molesters and blaming them for the Nazi Holocaust in Europe.
Fox News Radio commentator and far-right agitator Todd Starnes found out that the military agreed with the SPLC that the AFA is a hate group and wrote a column saying that the military has tarred all Christians with the same brush.
Starnes worked himself into a frenzy, complaining that the U.S. Army is persecuting Christians within its ranks. He enlisted the aid of other anti-LGBT groups to create enough clamor to convince McHugh to declare that Christian anti-LGBT groups do not fall under the military's definition of extremist groups.
SPLC's Glasstetter pointed out in his column that these groups assuredly do fit the profile of groups forbidden by the military.
Glasstetter cited DOD directive 1325.6, which stipulates:
Military personnel must not actively advocate 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 or otherwise advance efforts to deprive individuals of their civil rights.
"The AFA unquestionably advances 'efforts to deprive individuals of their civil rights,'" wrote Glastetter.
He continued, "[AFA spokesperson Bryan} Fischer began acolumn last year by arguing that “[i]t is time for conservatives to reclaim and rehabilitate the word ‘discriminate,’ particularly when it comes to homosexual behavior.” He has called for all Muslims to be deported, said the First Amendment doesn’t protect Islam, and argued that “[p]ermits should not be granted to build even one more mosque in the United States of America.”
"Service members should not be actively participating in groups that promote and create such barriers, such as the AFA, which wants to remove women, Muslims and LGBT people from the military," Glasstetter said.
"McHugh has, intentionally or not, opened the door wide for bigotry in the Army," he concluded. "He should order a fuller examination of the military’s standards on extremist organizations and implement policies and training materials that truly protect and promote equal opportunity."
[image of lesbian soldier via Shutterstock.com]