Tim Wildmon, president of the virulently anti-LGBTQ American Family Association, announced Monday that he had been named to Donald Trump’s Faith Advisory Council — but on Wednesday, a White House spokesman said there had been no such appointment, nor is there any such council.
“I have no idea what he’s talking about,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere told the Washington Blade. “There is no such thing as a White House Faith Council or Advisory Board. There is a Faith & Opportunity Initiative led by an adviser, Pastor Paula White, but it does not include a council or advisory board.”
But the AFA had sent out a press release Monday saying Wildmon had joined the body, which it said is “made up of key leaders who support and help guide the president’s faith-based initiatives, give insight on policy important to evangelicals and, most importantly, pray for the president.” It said other members of the council include White and such well-known Christian right figures as Tony Perkins, Robert Jeffress, and Jerry Falwell Jr., all of whom have worked with Trump on various projects.
Wildmon said in the release that Trump “is a flawed man, but still, he is not embarrassed to be seen with or stand with ‘the evangelicals,’ as he calls us. One of the reasons President Trump has taken unrelenting, incoming fire from the liberal elites — even before he was sworn in — is precisely because he is not ashamed of the Bible, the Constitution, the family and the free enterprise system.” The press release is still posted on the AFA’s website.
The AFA, based in Tupelo, Miss., is classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a progressive watchdog organization, as a hate group because of the dangerous misinformation it spreads about LGBTQ people. It considers homosexuality a sin, as many religions do, but it seeks to infuse public policy with that belief. It is also deeply transphobic, having often portrayed transgender people as predatory, and antichoice, with a recent blog post saying billionaire philanthropist Warren Buffett is going to hell because of his support for reproductive rights.
Bryan Fischer, who hosts a radio show for the AFA and blogs on its website, is one of the most hateful commentators in the nation, demonizing LGBTQ people, feminists, Mormons, Muslims, and many other groups. He recently wrote that when the Hallmark Channel agreed to re-air a wedding planner’s ads featuring a lesbian couple, it was caving to the “gay gestapo.” One Million Moms, an AFA offshoot, was one of the groups that had campaigned against the ads.
The Blade sought comment from the AFA on the conflicting reports about Wildmon’s appointment but has so far not received anything. The Advocate has put in its own request for comment with the AFA’s public relations representative, Hamilton Strategies, but also has not received a response. The Advocate will update the story as needed.