Blast from the Past: Anti-LGBT hate group resurrects dead "Bigotry Map" in latest fundraising attempt

The deceptively named anti-LGBT hate group Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam) sent its latest weekly “Friday Fax” newsletter and fund drive email out on February 14 and referenced a fellow hate group’s long-gone “Bigotry Map” as “proof” of … well, something.

C-Fam, which holds consultative status at the United Nations and is active internationally, is also known for equating LGBT people with Nazis, and, in the case of its president Austin Ruse, linking homosexuality to pederasty and calling for left-wing professors to be “taken out and shot.”

According to its February 14 newsletter, “The Friday Fax is a weekly report on true things going on at the UN and places where international social and legal policy are made.” The newsletter goes on to claim that, “we cover the story straight. And this has made all the difference.”

Keep that in mind, that part about “covering the story straight.”

Further on, a reader finds this:

We have been threatened by powerful actors including Planned Parenthood and the anti-Christian Human Rights Campaign, that has been designated a hate group by the American Family Association. We have been attacked on the homepage of the UN Population Fund. Groups like Catholics for Choice and various George Soros groups have written reports on us.

Many right-wing groups attempt to smear progressive billionaire George Soros as the head of a cabal working against them, but C-Fam also brings up a web page that disappeared two years ago in an attempt to claim that fellow anti-LGBT hate group American Family Association (AFA) designated LGBT equality group Human Rights Campaign as a “hate group.”

It’s true that AFA did attempt its own version of listing “hate groups” in early 2015, when it launched what it called its “bigotry map,” which, according to bloggers who found it, was a head-scratcher that included every group that AFA decided was somehow hostile to Christians, such as random college atheist chapters and the American Association of Retired People.

The AFA claimed its map identified “groups and organizations that openly display bigotry toward the Christian faith.”

“The AFA is shooting itself in the foot by trying to create their own version of the SPLC’s Hate Group list,” Hemant Mehta said over at the “Friendly Atheist” blog. “They’re going after groups with no rhyme or reason, that have done nothing wrong. You might as well put every synagogue and mosque on the map, too.”

Josh Kruger, a reporter at Philadelphia Weekly, wanted to find out more about some of the groups that were listed in the Bigotry Map’s atheist/humanist section so he called a few of the groups in his area, including Pennsylvania Nonbelievers and discovered this is what they’re about, according to the group’s director, Brian Fields:

We run booths at festivals for outreach. We also have monthly meetings in several areas across central Pennsylvania. Occasionally, we take complaints from individuals in the area — sometimes they’re not even atheists or agnostics — who are concerned about separation of church and state violations.

Kruger then spoke to Janice Rael, president of the Delaware Valley chapter of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU):

We believe in true religious freedom through a separation between church and state. We defend the First Amendment. We host a lot of speakers, such as authors and clergy members, who support separation [of church and state].

Rael was also displeased with the map’s lack of professionalism. She noted that AFA got key details wrong, such as her organization’s name and location. “If they are going to go through the trouble, I’d prefer that the accurate info be posted. We might get some new members that way.”

Reporters in Indiana also questioned the AFA map, which included Angie’s List, a website that helps users find top-rated professionals for various home improvement projects. It made AFA’s list because it opposed Indiana’s 2015 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which legalized discrimination against LGBT people with regard to goods and services. A national outcry over the law caused then-governor Mike Pence to backpedal and the legislature to insert guarantees that the law would not be used to erode local nondiscrimination ordinances that include sexual orientation.

When questioned about why Angie’s List made the bigotry map but other corporations in Indiana — like pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and engine maker Cummins that spoke out against RFRAs did not — AFA spokesman Randy Sharp told the Indianapolis Star that it selected Angie’s List because it seemed to garner the most headlines.

Furthermore, an Indiana atheist group AFA included on its map had closed months earlier and the director had reconverted to Christianity. He attempted to contact AFA to tell them the group was no longer in existence, but never received a response, according to the Star.

Back to that whole “telling the story straight” thing.

Early in 2016, the Bigotry Map quietly disappeared from the AFA website and nothing more was heard about it (though you can find it in the web archive).

If C-Fam truly was going to “tell the story straight,” it would have noted that the AFA’s attempt at a Bigotry Map fizzled within months and summarily disappeared from its website amidst questions about its methodology and choices for inclusion.

Or perhaps it should have left this blast from the past … well, in the past.