Is the U.S. Army being told that the American Family Association is a domestic hate group, along the likes of the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, the Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam?
Apparently some U.S. Army active duty and reserve troops were told last week at a briefing at Camp Shelby in Mississippi that the American Family Association should be classified as a domestic hate group because the group advocates for traditional family values, according to Fox News’ Todd Starnes.
Starnes reportedly received a photo from a slide show presentation that listed AFA as a domestic hate group from a soldier in attendance. Under the AFA headline is a photograph of Westboro Baptist Church preacher Fred Phelps holding a sign reading “No special law for f***.”
AFA is not affiliated with the controversial church group known for picketing the funerals of American service members.
“The instructor said AFA could be considered a hate group because they don’t like gays,” the unnamed soldier told Starnes. “The slide was talking about how AFA refers to gays as sinners and heathens and derogatory terms.”
A chaplain reportedly interrupted the briefing and challenged the instructor’s assertion that AFA is a hate group. Soldiers were reportedly also told that they could face punishment for participating in organizations considered to be hate groups.
One News Now reports that a solider also let the AFA know about the briefing.
“A soldier who was actually in the briefing presented us and Fox News with photographic evidence that the military is falsely linking us with Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church,” an AFA spokesperson said. “The sad reality is that Fred Phelps and his group actually do hate homosexuals. That’s not what the American Family Association believes.”
Bryan Fischer, director of issues analysis at AFA, noted that this is not the first time that the Army has labeled conservative Christian organizations as hate groups.
“This accusation on the part of the military is libelous, it’s slanderous, and it’s blatantly false,” Fischer stated. “So we at the AFA are calling on the military to strip all of their training materials of any reference to the American Family Association as a hate group. And if they will not do that, then I think there is a possibility of some kind of legal action.”