American Family Association (AFA)

Emma Best filed this request with the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States of America.

It is a clone of this request.

Tracking # 1363745-000
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Michael Best

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

Records relating to or mentioning American Family Association (AFA). The American Family Association (AFA) says it promotes "traditional moral values" in media. A large part of that work involves "combating the homosexual agenda" through various means, including publicizing companies that have pro-gay policies and organizing boycotts against them.

Initially founded as the National Federation for Decency, the American Family Association (AFA) originally focused on what it considered indecent television programming and pornography. The AFA says it promotes "traditional moral values" in media. A large part of that work involves "combating the homosexual agenda" through various means, including publicizing companies that have pro-gay policies and organizing boycotts against them. The AFA has a variety of outlets to disseminate its message, including the American Family Radio Network, its online One News Now and the monthly AFA Journal. In early 2011, the AFA claimed more than 2 million online supporters and 180,000 subscribers to its Journal.

Founded in 1977 by Methodist minister Donald E. Wildmon as the National Federation for Decency, the American Family Association (AFA) worked in its early years to remove what it considered indecent programming from television. Its other major focus was battling pornography. In 1988, the group's name was changed to the AFA, because the organization's concerns, Wildmon said in 2007, had expanded.

In 1985, Wildmon was appointed to former Attorney General Ed Meese's Commission on Pornography by its director, Alan Sears, who later would become president of the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian-based legal organization. Wildmon successfully orchestrated the removal of Playboy and Penthouse from some 17,000 convenience stores. Also in the 1980s, Wildmon started ramping up the AFA's anti-LGBT propaganda and succeeded in getting some corporations to pull their ads from shows like "Thirtysomething," which had been added to Wildmon's list of "Trash TV" because its plot included a gay romance.

Wildmon has never made a secret of his anti-LGBT views. One of his statements on the AFA's website reads, "I never dreamed I would see the day when sodomy would be called normal, and those who held to traditional values based on Christian teaching would be called bigots." According to the AFA, the primary goal of the "homosexual movement" is to "abolish the traditional, Judeo-Christian view of human sexuality, marriage, and family."

The AFA has been extremely vocal over the years in its opposition to LGBT rights, marriage equality and allowing gay men and lesbians to serve in the military. The group's arguments are filled with claims that equate homosexuality with pedophilia and argue that there's a "homosexual agenda" afoot that is set to bring about the downfall of American (and ultimately, Western) civilization. In one October 2004 article, the AFA Journal suggested that gay influences are leading to a "grotesque culture" that will include "quick encounters in the middle school boys' restroom."

For years, until 2010, the AFA had a section on its website that supposedly exposed "The Homosexual Agenda." There, a reader could find articles and other AFA publications that claimed LGBT people were trying to force the acceptance of homosexuality on children through sex education programs in schools; condemned companies like Disney for supporting LGBT rights and programming; and, also until 2010, featured a particularly noxious booklet the AFA had published in 1994. That booklet, Homosexuality in America: Exposing the Myths, included the bogus research of thoroughly discredited psychologist Paul Cameron as a source. One of the publication's authors, Richard Howe, used Cameron's "research" to claim that LGBT people don't live as long as heterosexuals, that they're more promiscuous and that the "disgusting details of the homosexual lifestyle explain why so many diseases are present in the homosexual community." Another claim was that "[p]rominent homosexual leaders and publications have voiced support for pedophilia, incest, sadomasochism, and even bestiality."

In 1998, in what would become a scandal for the group, the AFA signed on to a huge television and newspaper "ex-gay" campaign called "Truth in Love," a project that advocated an idea popular in religious-right circles: that LGBT people can be "cured" so that they become heterosexual. A man named Michael Johnston was the star of the campaign. In one television ad shot with his mother present, Johnston discussed "leaving homosexuality" and was open about his HIV-positive status. Previously, Johnston had worked with Jerry Falwell as an ex-gay leader and done a "Truth in Love" commercial for Coral Ridge Ministries. He had also started his own ex-gay ministry, Kerusso, in 1989. Johnston was extremely active on the ex-gay circuit, and was the founder of "Coming out of Homosexuality Day" (which coincides with National Coming Out Day).

In 2000, Johnston's story was made available as a film by the AFA, titled "It's Not Gay." In the film, he is joined by other ex-gay activists who load the film with unsupported statistics, like "80% of homosexual men have a sexually transmitted disease." One of the other ex-gay activists in the film, Richard Cohen, has been discredited for his "healing touch" therapy, in which grown men are cradled and held like babies to get used to "appropriate male touch" and to "re-create the father-son bond." A broken father-son bond, Cohen claims, can "cause" homosexuality. In other "therapy" sessions, Cohen has clients beat pillows with tennis racquets while blaming their mothers for making them gay.

Three years later, in 2003, news outlets reported that Johnston, while traveling around the country decrying "the homosexual lifestyle," was hosting orgies, taking drugs and having unprotected sex with other men without disclosing his HIV status. In the publicity and accusations that ensued, Johnston shut down his ministry and sought refuge at a live-in facility with Pure Life Ministries in Dry Ridge, Ky. As of 2011, Johnston was listed as Pure Life's director of donor and media relations. He states in his bio that in 2002 he "was living a completely double life" and is "now walking in true freedom."

The AFA, meanwhile, admitted that Johnston had "relapsed." In early 2007, Wayne Besen of ex-gay watchdog group Truth Wins Out, filed complaints with two attorneys general against the AFA and another anti-gay group, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, for promoting and selling "It's Not Gay," which Besen called "deceptive." The AFA addressed Besen's complaints in an article in its March 2007 AFA Journal. Buddy Smith, AFA executive assistant then, claimed that the AFA had stopped selling "It's Not Gay" as a result of the scandal. But in 2005, the AFA started selling the DVD again, after meeting with Johnston at Pure Life. Smith stated that the AFA felt confident then "that Michael had been fully restored and was walking in victory." The DVD is still available on the AFA's website, without any mention of the scandal. It is described as "a fair and balanced approach to this challenging subject."

The AFA's fundraising appeals are known for their shrillness. One mailer from the early 2000s read: "For the sake of our children and society, we must OPPOSE the spread of homosexual activity! Just as we must oppose murder, stealing, and adultery!" It continued, "Since homosexuals cannot reproduce, the only way for them to ‘breed' is to RECRUIT! And who are their targets for recruitment? Children!" In other appeals, the AFA has used a standard propaganda ploy against LGBT individuals: They're a danger to children.

In the summer of 2010, the AFA announced a boycott of Home Depot stores because Home Depot allegedly supports the "homosexual agenda." The AFA said that the home repair chain was "deliberately exposing children to lascivious displays of sexual conduct by homosexuals" through its support of pride parades.

The AFA has had very active state chapters, many of which have served as training grounds for anti-gay activists like Scott Lively, founder of the anti-gay hate group Abiding Truth Ministries. Lively, a former director of the AFA's California chapter, claimed in his discredited 1995 co-authored book The Pink Swastika that Germany's Nazi Party was full of gay men who were primarily responsible for the Holocaust. In 2007, Lively co-founded the virulent anti-gay group Watchmen on the Walls, which is particularly popular in Eastern European countries and among some Eastern European immigrants to the United States.

Gary Glenn, current president of the AFA's Michigan chapter, maintains a "Homosexual Agenda" link on the AFA-MI website. He has called anti-bullying legislation a way to indoctrinate children – and, by extension, American society – with "the homosexual agenda" (a common claim used by the anti-gay right). He has claimed that gay soldiers would cause disease in the military's ranks through "battlefield blood transfusions" and that gay soldiers are responsible for high rates of sexual assault in the military.

In 2009, the AFA hired Bryan Fischer, the former executive director of the AFA-affiliated Idaho Values Alliance, as its director of issue analysis for government and public policy and as a radio host. Taking a page from Lively's book, Fischer claimed on his radio show in May 2010 that Hitler chose homosexual soldiers as his elite officers because they were far more brutal and savage than heterosexual soldiers. In defense of that show, Fischer wrote that "homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews." He also called for criminalizing gay sex in a February 2010 blog post – because doing so would ensure that "controversies" over "gays in the military" and "gay indoctrination in the schools" would end. He has also advocated forcing gay people into ex-gay therapy, which supposedly can "cure" their condition, because homosexuality should be treated in the same way as intravenous drug use. "Both," he told radio host Alan Colmes, "are equally dangerous and risky to human health." By August 2010, the AFA had appended a disclaimer to Fischer's posts, stating that his opinions are his own.

That didn't stop Fischer's outrageous postings. In early 2011, Fischer called for an end to Muslim recruits in the U.S. military and an end to Muslim immigration to the U.S. At around the same time, he claimed that Native Americans remained mired in poverty because they refused to accept Christianity. The outcry over that blog post was so great that the AFA actually took it down. A week later, Fischer published a blog item stating that Native Americans should have followed Pocahontas' lead, because she had accepted "the superior culture" of the new arrivals to the New World.

Two months after the AFA removed Fischer’s post about Native Americans, he lambasted welfare programs, singling out African Americans for criticism by stating, “Welfare has destroyed the African-American family by telling young black women that husbands and fathers are unnecessary and obsolete. Welfare has subsidized illegitimacy by offering financial rewards to women who have more children out of wedlock. We have incentivized fornication rather than marriage, and it’s no wonder we are now awash in the disastrous social consequences of people who rut like rabbits.”

Once again, the AFA stepped in, but this time Fischer’s post was merely reworded, so that the last sentence of that paragraph now says “… and it’s no wonder we are now awash in the disastrous social consequences of those who engage in random and reckless promiscuity whether they are Caucasian, Hispanic, or African-American.”

In September 2012, however, Fischer said of African-American supporters of the Democratic Party: “They’re like drug-addled addicts and the Democrat Party has gotten them addicted to welfare benefits. That apparently is the only reason they continue to support this party.” And in August 2012, he claimed that if Obama were re-elected, the Department of Homeland Security was ready to use its ammunition against American citizens. He further warned that, “you’re going to hear some serious talk about secession in any number of places around America.”

Currently, the AFA is under the direction of Tim Wildmon, the son of Don Wildmon, who stepped down after 33 years, citing health problems. Tim Wildmon continues the group’s long tradition of anti-gay propagandizing and activism. Wildmon criticized Obama for including gay fathers in his 2010 Father’s Day proclamation, stating in a press release that it was the first time in history a president had used the day to “promote a radical homosexual agenda” and that he was putting the “twisted sexual desires of adults” ahead of children.

Earlier in 2012, Wildmon had notorious anti-gay pastor Patrick Wooden, along with the FRC’s Tony Perkins, on the AFA’s “Today’s Issues” segment of their American Family Radio (AFR). Both Perkins and Wildmon expressed admiration for Wooden, who is perhaps best known for claiming that gay men have to wear diapers or “butt plugs” because they lose control of their bowels. He has also called homosexuality “deviant,” “immoral,” and “anti-human.”

Buster Wilson, the general manager of AFR and host of the program “AFA Today,” suggested in 2012 that God might have sent Hurricane Isaac as punishment for a New Orleans LGBT festival and also tried to link the repeal of DADT to increased suicides, alcoholism, sexual assaults, and violence in the military. Wilson, a conspiracy theorist and member of the antigovernment “Patriot” group Oathkeepers, has also floated the idea that the Department of Homeland Security is buying millions of rounds of ammunition and possibly planning war against American civilians.

Please conduct a search of the Central Records System, including but not limited to the Electronic Surveillance (ELSUR) Indices, the Microphone Surveillance (MISUR) Indices, the Physical Surveillance (FISUR) Indices, and the Technical Surveillance (TESUR) Indices, for both main-file records and cross-reference records of both HQ and all field offices for all relevant names, agencies, organizations, companies and events including but not limited to those cited in the previous paragraphs and/or links. My request includes but is not limited to 137, 157, 176, 177, 183, 184, 188, and 214 files. If previously released records are available, then I request a rolling release consisting of those records while additional records are located and processed for release.

I am a member of the news media and request classification as such. I have previously written about the government and its activities for AND Magazine, MuckRock and Glomar Disclosure and have an open arrangement with each. My articles have been widely read, with some reaching over 100,000 readers. As such, as I have a reasonable expectation of publication and my editorial and writing skills are well established. In addition, I discuss and comment on the files online and make them available through the non-profit Internet Archive, disseminating them to a large audience. While my research is not limited to this, a great deal of it, including this, focuses on the activities and attitudes of the government itself. As such, it is not necessary for me to demonstrate the relevance of this particular subject in advance. Additionally, case law states that “proof of the ability to disseminate the released information to a broad cross-section of the public is not required.” Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Dep’t of Justice, 365 F.3d 1108, 1126 (D.C. Cir. 2004); see Carney v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 19 F.3d 807, 814-15 (2d Cir. 1994). Further, courts have held that "qualified because it also had “firm” plans to “publish a number of . . . ‘document sets’” concerning United States foreign and national security policy." Under this criteria, as well, I qualify as a member of the news media. Additionally, courts have held that the news media status "focuses on the nature of the requester, not its request. The provision requires that the request be “made by” a representative of the news media. Id. § 552(a)(4)(A)(ii)(II). A newspaper reporter, for example, is a representative of the news media regardless of how much interest there is in the story for which he or she is requesting information." As such, the details of the request itself are moot for the purposes of determining the appropriate fee category. As such, my primary purpose is to inform about government activities by reporting on it and making the raw data available and I therefore request that fees be waived.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Michael Best

From: FOIPARequest

Good morning,

The FBI has received your Freedom of Information Act/Privacy (FOIPA) request and it will be forwarded to Initial Processing for review. Your request will be processed under the provisions of FOIPA and a response will be mailed to you at a later date.

Requests for fee waivers and expedited processing will be addressed once your request has been assigned an FOIPA request number. You will receive written notification of the FBI’s decision.

Information regarding the Freedom of Information Act/Privacy is available at http://www.fbi.gov/ or http://www.fbi.gov/foia/. If you require additional assistance please contact the Public Information Officer.

Thank you,

Holly Early
Government Information Specialist
Record/Information Dissemination Section (RIDS)
FBI-Records Management Division
170 Marcel Drive, Winchester, VA 22602-4843
PIO: (540) 868-4593
Direct: (540) 868-4854
Fax: (540) 868-4391/4997
E-mail: foiparequest@ic.fbi.gov<mailto:foiparequest@ic.fbi.gov>
Questions E-mail: foipaquestions@ic.fbi.gov<mailto:foipaquestions@ic.fbi.gov>

Do you have further questions about the FOI/PA process? Visit us at http://www.fbi.gov/foia

Please check the status of your request online at https://vault.fbi.gov/fdps-1/@@search-fdps. Status updates are performed on a weekly basis.

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

An acknowledgement letter, stating the request is being processed.

From: FOIPAQUESTIONS

Dear Mr. Best,

Please check the status of your FOIPA Request at https://vault.fbi.gov/fdps-1/@@search-fdps, and follow the instructions below.

Check the Status of Your FOIPA Request

If your FOIPA Number is [1195846-0] please enter [1195846-000] into the system. If your FOIPA Number is [1195846-1] please enter [1195846-001] into the system. If you have any questions about the status of your FOIPA request, please e-mail foipaquestions@ic.fbi.gov<mailto:foipaquestions@ic.fbi.gov>.

FIND STATUS OF FOIPA- LAST UPDATED ON January 25, 2017

Please enter the whole FOIPA number-Example: [1234567-000]

FOIPA:

Results will show the Request Number, Case Type and Process Description shown below:

FOIPA:

1234567-000

Case Type:

FOIPA

Process Description (Will display the current progress of the request)

The FBI’s FOIPA Program is searching the FBI’s indices for potentially responsive documents.

You may be contacted via formal letter for all fees and/or negotiation issues that may apply.
NOTE: Recent requests are entered into the FOIPA database in the order that they are received. Before you can check the status, you must have received correspondence assigning a FOIPA request number and the information transferred to the online database. Status information is updated weekly. If a request has been closed within the last six months the online database will display the following: The FOIPA number entered has been closed, and appropriate correspondence has been sent to the address on file.

Estimated Dates of Completion

Requests are processed in the order in which they are received through our multi-track processing system, and the FBI receives a voluminous amount of requests on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis. Requests are divided into two primary tracks--simple (under 50 pages of potentially responsive documents) and complex (over 50 pages of potentially responsive documents). Our complex requests are further divided into medium, large, and extra-large sub-tracks. Simple track requests typically require the least amount of time to process.

Currently, simple track cases average approximately 181 days from the date of receipt for processing. Requests in the medium processing track are currently averaging 232 days from the date of receipt for processing, those in the large processing track are currently averaging approximately 659 days, and those in the extra-large track are averaging 998 days.

Thank you,

Holly Early
Government Information Specialist
Record/Information Dissemination Section (RIDS)
FBI-Records Management Division
170 Marcel Drive, Winchester, VA 22602-4843
PIO Line: (540) 868-4593
Direct: (540) 868-4854
Fax: (540) 868-4391 or (450)868-4997
Questions E-mail: foipaquestions@ic.fbi.gov<mailto:foipaquestions@ic.fbi.gov>

Do you have further questions about the FOI/PA process? Visit us at http://www.fbi.gov/foia

Please check the status of your request online at https://vault.fbi.gov/fdps-1/@@search-fdps. Status updates are performed on a weekly basis.

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

From: Michael Best

Please confirm that all the pages were sent. When I check I received, it shows 278 pages instead of the 312 the letter says were preprocessed.

Thanks!

From: FOIPAQUESTIONS

Dear Mr. Best,

I double checked your request and the release should have contained 312 released pages. I will forward your correspondence to the assigned analyst so that the full release can be re-sent to you.

Please contact me if you require further assistance.

Thank you,

Holly Early
Government Information Specialist
Record/Information Dissemination Section (RIDS)
FBI-Records Management Division
170 Marcel Drive, Winchester, VA 22602-4843
PIO Line: (540) 868-4593
Direct: (540) 868-4854
Fax: (540) 868-4391 or (450)868-4997
Questions E-mail: foipaquestions@ic.fbi.gov<mailto:foipaquestions@ic.fbi.gov>

Do you have further questions about the FOI/PA process? Visit us at http://www.fbi.gov/foia

Please check the status of your request online at https://vault.fbi.gov/fdps-1/@@search-fdps. Status updates are performed on a weekly basis.

From: Michael Best

Holly,

Thank you so much! If it helps, these are the PDFs that I received (in addition to the release letter):
File_3_--Section_1.pdf
File_4_--Secton_2.pdf
File_5_--_Section_1.pdf
File_7_--Section_1.pdf
File_8_--_Section_1.pdf
File_9_--Section_2.pdf
File_10_--Section_3.pdf
File_11_--Section_4.pdf
File_12_--_Section_5.pdf
File_16_--Section_9.pdf
File_17_--_Section_1.pdf
File_24_--_Section_8.pdf
File_28_--_Section_3.pdf
File_29_--_Section_4.pdf
File_31_--_Section_1.pdf
File_32_--Section_2.pdf
File_33_--_Section_3.pdf
File_34_--_Section_1.pdf

Mike

From: Michael Best

I am appealing the decision to provide only preprocessed records, despite a request for a rolling release and specific search criteria including cross-reference searches using the ample information I provided.

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

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