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PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Deborah Hamilton, Hamilton Strategies, 215.815.7716, 610.584.1096
October 17, 2013
U.S. Army Admits Wrong-Doing in Calling AFA ‘Hate Group;’ AFA Not Satisfied – Trainings Not Isolated to One Incident
American Family Association and Liberty Institute Issued Freedom of Information Act Letter to Army Seeking Answers to Questions Re: Defamation of AFA

 –In an attempt to appease the American Family Association, the U.S. Army has admitted it was wrong to use false information in a recent training module that named AFA as a "domestic hate group." The lie had been generated by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as the multi-million dollar non-profit organization included AFA on their list of hate groups alongside the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazi groups.

Army spokesman Troy A. Rolan Sr. said soldiers who attended an October briefing at nearby Camp Shelby will be notified that the SPLC's "hate group" label is in error and should be discounted for what it is -- false and deceitful.  

The Army's statement said a trainer created the slide portraying AFA as a "hate group" without Army approval, and it was not produced by the Army and "does not reflect its policy or doctrine." Read the U.S. Army's full statement here. 

AFA's initial concerns have been addressed, yet AFA has documented cases of additional false assertions against AFA being used in military training resources on other bases and that this is not an isolated situation.  Due to the seriousness of this matter, AFA and the Liberty Institute have issued a request to the U.S. Army under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (5 U.S.C. §552). 

What the Freedom of Information Act request has specified to receive from the Army includes this summary of the following items:  

Any and all notes, documents, memoranda, and communications, including but not limited to PowerPoint presentations, e-mails, audio and visual media, and handouts, relating to U.S. Army Equal Opportunity training or Diversity training that include references to the Family Research Council, American Family Association, Focus on the Family, or similar organizations, conducted for members of the 1st Army Division East and all subordinate commands dated, created, or used from 1 January 2011 to present. 

In addition, the above items that have been produced from meetings between the United States Army and the Southern Poverty Law Center and communications relating to the identification of domestic hate groups and to the Family Research Council, American Family Association, or Focus on the Family, and any materials produced by the United States Army in conducting training for which the attached photograph was used. 

It is critical that the U.S. Army provides these requested documents and items to Liberty Institute on behalf of the American Family Association and that the Pentagon and those who train military personnel be clearly instructed to discount and refrain from using any information that they have not verified and found on the Internet, especially when it comes from groups such as the SPLC, which is well-known for spreading falsehoods. 

Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association states, “We appreciate the actions that the U.S. Army has taken in the past couple of days, but there is more to be done to end the spreading of these untruths once and for all.  We are appalled that the U.S. Army would use information that they ‘found on the Internet’ to train our soldiers and require them to sit through a training that doesn’t seem to apply to anything that the Army should be concerning themselves with in the first place.  The Army should have been acutely aware that The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has long been discredited as a source of information about discrimination of any sort. In fact, the SPLC itself has become an agent of hate by mindlessly and recklessly stirring up animosity against Americans who share the Christian values of the Founders. For instance, the individual who attempted to murder employees at Family Research Council headquarters last year was guided by information he received from SPLC. 

“The SPLC was exposed last spring by the Weekly Standard as a shameless fund-raising scam to entice donors, using innuendo, lies and manufactured charges to accumulate a $256 million stockpile in offshore accounts in the Caribbean. One of the leading charity watchdogs has given them an “F” grade as a result. 

“The truth is that the American Family Association doesn’t hate anyone. We love everyone, including homosexuals, enough to tell them the truth about the moral, spiritual and physical dangers of homosexual conduct. Disagreement about the normalizing of homosexual behavior is not hate; it is simply disagreement.  

“The AFA stands proudly for the values that made America the greatest, freest and most prosperous nation on earth: Christian faith, the moral standards of the Ten Commandments, and public policy centered in the unchanging standards of Scripture.” 

Liberty Institute General Counsel Jeff Mateer said regarding this matter: “This Freedom of Information Act request will assist us in investigating how widespread is the Army's mislabeling and defaming of American Family Association and other faith based groups.   We look forward to a comprehensive response, so the Army can immediately begin rectifying this unfortunate situation.” 

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American Family Association (AFA) a non-profit 501(c3) organization was founded in 1977 by Donald E. Wildmon, who was pastoring First United Methodist Church in Southaven, Mississippi, at the time.  Since 1977, AFA has been on the frontlines of America’s culture war. The original name of the ministry was National Federation for Decency but was changed to American Family Association (AFA) in 1988. Today, AFA is one of the largest and most effective pro-family organizations in the country with over two million online supporters and approximately 180,000 paid subscribers to the AFA Journal, the ministry's monthly magazine. In addition, AFA owns and operates nearly 200 radio stations across the country under the American Family Radio (AFR) banner.  

Other divisions of AFA include American Family Radio, the AFA Foundation and OneNewsNow.com, an online news provider that is syndicated around the world. AFA maintains activist web sites such as OneMillionMoms.com and OneMillionDads.com that rally Christian activists to contact companies asking them to drop their advertising from objectionable TV shows. AFA web sites average over 40 million hits and five million visitors each month. AFA uses all these means to communicate an outspoken, resolute, Christian voice throughout America. 

 

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