Bryan Fischer, Idaho Values Alliance director, has announced he is moving to Mississippi to host a radio talk show.
Fischer has hung around the Statehouse a lot in the past few years, lobbying for anti-everything causes. His ideas and proposals consistently try to legislate rights away from certain groups of people, but grant special rights to others. He’s horrified by yet strangely obsessed with
homosexuality, and has tried to legislate it away with his promotion of a successful anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment and his opposition to other legislation.
He’s against Hindus and Muslim congress members, sex education which includes information about contraception, the legitimacy of global warming, the legitimacy of science and scientists, the science of evolution,
Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court appointment, abortion rights, practically all immigration, co-ed bathrooms, hate crimes legislation, and possibly the right to stand still, or so it seems. This list is by no means exhaustive of the things Fischer opposes.
He consistently ignores or misinterprets legitimate scientific research to suit his brand of thinking which, by his own description, is “right-wing extremist.”
It’s hard to tell what he’s for.
Whether Christian, Muslim, or The Church of the One True Everything, religious extremism and absolutism is fanaticism. Fanatics of any kind lead the way to intolerance, which leads to violence. We need only look to the weekend murder of Dr. Tiller in Kansas by an anti-abortion fanatic to see that it’s so. Though there is no evidence that Fischer’s actions have led to direct violence, Idaho has one of the highest teen suicide rates in the nation. Writes state senator Nicole LeFavour, “Typically in any state about 1/3 of all teen suicides are related to teens struggling with coming out or with conflicts within themselves as to whether or not they are gay. If a parent were inclined to be uncomfortable with their child being gay, sure enough Bryan Fischer would be in the paper…” Fischer made it harder and harder for gay kids in Idaho to find acceptance, and for that, his actions are more than deplorable – they’re dangerous.
Fischer takes his fanatical thinking to the political table, where it is illegitimate because it is based on his personal religion. But since he doesn’t believe in the separation of church and state, that isn’t a problem for him. “All political power has been delegated by God,” he says. (That doesn’t seem to apply to the election of President Obama, however.)
Like most people, Fischer is polite. You’d never know he harbors ill will toward so many people without acknowledging it. One example of this occurred in the Statehouse during the 2008 session, when he met then-Rep. LeFavour, who is openly gay, in a hallway. Fischer was involved in passing anti-gay legislation at the time. “Don’t take it personally,” he told her. LeFavour, always ladylike and restrained in personal encounters, stared in disbelief at him before asking him how could she not take it personally, when he was trying to make laws against her individual rights and family life? As for me, how can I not take him personally when he is part of a movement that made my beloved Uncle Karl, a university librarian and scholar, hang himself because of the pain of life in the closet? When he believes my gay friends don’t deserve the same rights as me – and him?
This week, LeFavour blogged, “Nationally, efforts to divide our country over gay people have worn thin but I’m sure Fischer will find others to demean and condemn. I send a quiet apology off into the rain today to the people of Mississippi. I’m sorry you get him now.”
Living an ethical and fulfilling family life without religious belief is not possible in Fischer’s thinking, nor is it a legitimate choice for you – because he can’t fathom such a thing. And he fancies himself the arbiter of what is pro-family and what isn’t.
My own encounter with Fischer, which occurred before I joined NewWest.Net, was along similar lines. At a public event he greeted me warmly. I asked if I could ask him a serious question, and we stepped aside for a moment.
“Why don’t you think I’m pro-family?” I asked. “I’m in a happy 25-year-long marriage. There have been no divorces in two generations on both sides of the family. My parents were married 50 years. We have two children who got good grades and were never in trouble, and we raised them ourselves at home. Our daughter is now in college getting high grades. She does regular volunteer work on campus. Our son is serving in the military, as has almost every male in the family for three generations. Nobody in the family has ever been arrested or on drugs, or on welfare. My husband was a Boy Scout leader and I volunteered in the public schools for hundreds of hours. We give to charity and never miss voting in an election. What about me and my life is anti-family?”
Fischer gave me a polite, blank stare and said something to the effect that we’d just have to disagree.
Fischer’s infected, relentless negativity is apparently part of his temperamental makeup. Claiming he is pro-family and pro-life when his views and his writing is neither is one of his many hypocrisies. His intolerance of our right to have different world views, religious beliefs or lack of them is bad enough, but he closes off any disagreement or discussion of those ideas by running a website he calls a “blog.” Since it doesn’t allow for comments it’s hard to consider it such. As Kevin Richert of the Idaho Statesman wrote, “Fischer recognized the immediacy of Internet politics, but ignored its interactivity. And I think that’s a mistake.”
My tolerance of Fischer’s views is different: I acknowledge and support his right to have them, discuss them and present them. But I don’t acknowledge his right to inflict his religious beliefs on me, especially using the political forum instead of a house of worship.
Fischer has inflicted profound pain on people during his years in Idaho, something he also refuses to acknowledge. Worse, he writes and acts under the name of his God, and Jesus, when the lessons of both preach love, understanding and compassion. But he could even twist that around to claim he is being compassionate by trying to lead people in what he believes to be the only moral direction – his direction.
Those of us who believe that true moral direction can come from many sources, including human thinking and scientific inquiry; that persecution of others is an immoral choice Fischer makes; that mixing religion and politics is an immoral direction; and that he has promoted an atmosphere where it is legitimate to claim something but act differently are relieved to see him leave Idaho. At the same time, we know it doesn’t solve the global problem of fanaticism or the national problem of intolerance, and so the positive work of people who promote the best possible life – for all of us – must go on.