How, or why, can some good “mainstream” Christian organizations be labeled hate groups? That was one of the main questions raised in response to my blog posting on March 20.
The two groups specifically mentioned in that posting are the American Family Association (AFA) and the Family Research Council (FRC).
I have had no direct contact with either of those organizations, but I have often seen references to them and to a prominent leader in each group: Donald Wildmon and Tony Perkins.
Most of what I have read about those leaders’ activities and public statements has not been positive.
That is not to say there is not a lot of good done by these and other similar organizations or by the two men mentioned and others with similar beliefs. As I said in a comment following the 3/20 blog posting, to say that some organization is a hate group does not mean that everything they do is bad or hateful.
It is only (or at least mainly) because of their strong stance in opposition to gays and lesbians that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) identifies the AFA and the FRC as hate groups. The supporting data presented by the SPLC can be found here (AFA) and here (FRC).
The AFA says their mission is “to inform, equip, and activate individuals to strengthen the moral foundations of American culture, and give aid to the church here and abroad in its task of fulfilling the Great Commission.” Hard to argue with that! Except that the AFA’s definition of working for the moral foundations of American culture includes castigating homosexuality, which they clearly consider to be sinful.
The same is true for the Family Research Council (FRC), which, according to their mission statement, “champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society. FRC shapes public debate and formulates public policy that values human life and upholds the institutions of marriage and the family.” They see homosexuality as a threat to the well-being of the institution of marriage and family (as well as to society as a whole).
Some Christians try to show Christian love toward gays/lesbians, saying we should hate the sin but love the sinner. These Christians agree that all people, including gays/lesbians, should be welcomed by Christians—but “deviant” sexual orientation should not be affirmed. Or, these “loving” Christians will point out that we all are sinners, so no special opposition should be made toward gays/lesbians. But from this standpoint also, homosexuality is clearly considered a sin.
Some protest signs against gays/lesbians proclaim, “We don’t hate homos, God hates sin.” Although they might not be that direct, that plainly seems to be the position of the AFA and the FRC. They strongly oppose homosexuality because they think it is sinful.
It is quite probable that those who condemn homosexuality as a sin have a faulty interpretation of the Bible. There is not space to deal with this important matter here, but I have written about that in the ninth chapter of my book Fed Up with Fundamentalism.
|Matthew Vines, 22|