Oh, so that's why Bryan Fischer says the darndest things!

Newsweek has it all figured out. The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer has been getting in touch with his inner imp. Zany? Wacky? Outrageous? Nah, it is all a ploy to get ratings and irritate the opponents.  According to Newsweek:

You might think that attention in the form of mockery is not what a public-policy organization would want. But when your business is waging a culture war, there is no such thing as bad publicity for ideological or rhetorical extremism. Being criticized by liberals in the media raises the profile of a socially conservative organization, and burnishes its credibility among the base. Just ask Sarah Palin, or her fans. Fischer’s critics also benefit from the twofer of his being both entertaining and threatening.

Call it “hatertainment.”

But he doesn’t really mean it, does he? Here is Newsweek’s take on that question.

Getting attention from a perch so far off the mainstream media radar screen requires ingenuity. And Fischer is able to shock even jaded journalists and pundits. But does he really believe his most widely circulated statements? Yes and no. A Dec. 21 blog post earned Jon Stewart’s mockery on The Daily Show when Fischer asserted, “President Obama wants to give the entire land mass of the United States of America back to the Indians. He wants Indian tribes to be our new overlords.” All Obama had done is express approval for the nonbinding U.N. Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples which contains one passage affirming land rights. Does Fischer honestly believe that Obama is going to turn your home over to a Native American tribe? Not really, but by pretending he does—which he defends as “taking Obama at his word,”—he gets to make a ludicrous claim. “Either Obama meant what he said or he’s a bald-faced liar,” says Fischer. “I don’t think Obama meant what he said.”

Clever. Since Fischer is just pretending, let’s try that in reverse.

When Fischer says things, either he means what he says or he’s a bald-faced liar. You pick.

Maybe President Obama could be a talk show host on the AFA radio network. According to Fischer, the President has got the formula down.

According to Newsweek and Newsweek’s experts, the whole shtick is more business than conviction. 

“Like all Christian political groups [AFA] has leaders who are entrepreneurial,” says Green. “In the past [Christian conservatives] have sometimes been controversial on purpose, to get attention from the rest of us and to raise money for their organizations. It’s not that they are insincere, but there are organizational motives.” So if Fischer shocks or horrifies coastal media elites by expressing views that they consider bigoted or simply baffling, he is just doing his job.

So if there are “organizational motives,” then saying goofy, offensive stuff you don’t really mean is not insincere but just part of the biz. Glad that’s all cleared up.

After reading the Newsweek piece, I am not sure which more offensive – what Fischer does with his platform or Newsweek’s cynical regard for what they portray as business as usual for Christian ministry.

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  • David Blakeslee

    Commenting on Fischer would be redundant…

    Commenting on Newsweek’s narrow and simplistic description of how Christian’s raise money for their ministries is troubling.

    I don’t recall church affiliated hospitals, hospices, homes for unwed mothers, detoxification programs, homeless ministries and so on fitting those descriptions.

    The man with the Megaphone makes a public image…Newsweek is supposed to be trained to see the larger picture.

  • Richard Willmer

    I will comment on Fischer, and would say (in the immortal words of the Psychiatrist in Fawlty Towers): “There’s enough material there for an entire conference!”

    Completely cuckoo! But very dangerous too – and deeply distressing to those of us who do not want to see Christianity brought into (further) disrepute.

  • trog69

    A detestable man, but he knows what works for his listeners/followers, and reasoned arguments or standing up for the truly voiceless…not so much.

    My frustration remains with the followers that lap up all the hate and nod their heads so vigorously when reminded of how victimized they all are. Authoritarian fear of outside thought, combined with the Dunning-Kruger effect writ large.

    Oopsy, my cynicism is showing.

  • David Blakeslee

    Here is an example of a 12 million dollar Christian ministry for Newsweek to comment on:

    January 13, 2011

    Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

    God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

    Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. Psalm 46:1-3

    One year ago yesterday, a catastrophic earthquake struck the nation of Haiti, killing nearly 250,000 people and leaving more than one million homeless.

    Many of us remember hearing the news and seeing images of the devastation for the first time. We lifted up the people of Haiti in our prayers. We gave generously.

    More than 40,000 ELCA members and leaders like you contributed $12.6 million to support the work of ELCA Disaster Response in Haiti. Because of our long-standing relationships with the Lutheran Church in Haiti and many partners there, the ELCA was and continues to be uniquely positioned to respond quickly and effectively.

    Your gifts have:

    Provided food and shelter to approximately 57,700 people living in camps coordinated by The Lutheran World Federation and more than 6,000 people who gathered on the grounds of the Lutheran Church in Haiti.

    Delivered more than 14,000 quilts and 13,000 health kits.

    Distributed 3,200 gallons of safe, clean drinking water to approximately 2,000 families.

    Shipped four convoys of medical supplies, hygiene and baby kits, tents, food packages and other necessities.

    Funded housing placement and crisis counseling to Haitian refugees and medical evacuees seeking asylum in Florida and Georgia.

    And yet our work is far from over. Our long-term goal in Haiti is to help renew hope and rebuild lives and livelihoods, seeking to end the cycle of poverty and injustice.

    Thank you for your continued generosity and your prayers for the people of Haiti. Together we will continue to do God’s life-giving work with our hands for as long as it takes.

    In God’s grace,

    The Rev. Mark S. Hanson

    Presiding Bishop

    Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

    P.S. The spread of cholera and other waterborne diseases have intensified the suffering experienced by our sisters and brothers in Haiti. With the help of ELCA Disaster Response funds, our partners are working hard to contain the outbreak, providing medical supplies and health care, as well as teaching people about preventative measures. Visit ELCA Disaster Response for more information about the ongoing, long-term response efforts in Haiti.