Congratulations to all the freethought and LGBT groups recognized by the American Family Association (AFA) last week on their much-discussed interactive Bigotry Map, dedicated to “exposing anti-Christian bigotry in America.” We know it is truly an honor to be selected. Yet, we’re left wondering why the map only included two hundred organizations across the United States and how they missed one of the biggest of all—the American Humanist Association!
Fortunately, many AHA chapters and affiliates were included, garnering free promotional time during the news cycle. Our local group, the Central Florida Freethought Community (CFFC), which is a proud AHA affiliate and a chapter of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, made the cut. We’ve requested a correction to our incorrectly listed group name, but we haven’t heard back. I’m sure they’ll get to that soon.
Amazingly, the AFA claims the map identifies groups that “openly display bigotry toward the Christian faith” and that have tried to “silence Christians and remove public displays of Christian heritage and faith in America.” Groups included in the “Homosexual Agenda” category were listed for their promotion of same-sex marriage along with “viciously attacking Christians who exercise their First Amendment right to voice support for God’s plan for marriage.”
I thought it would be informative to watch a YouTube video of such a vicious attack to understand the AFA’s concerns, but nothing came up in my search results. Not to worry—I’ve set up a Google alert to notify me if such a thing ever happens.
Three other categories on the map are “Anti-Christian,” “Atheist,” and “Humanist.” Yes, that’s right. Humanists are categorized as being hostile to Christianity. While the AFA map-makers regrettably omitted the American Humanist Association, they fortunately did not forget everyone’s favorite formidable LGBT-rights powerhouse, AARP, otherwise known as the American Association of Retired Persons. AARP is apparently so supportive of the LGBT community that they deserve to be labeled bigots, too. Unbelievably, the map doesn’t include the American Automobile Association, which, in 2009, got AFA’s tunics in a twist.
AFA hasn’t broken any new ground here. In fact, they’re recycling an existing strategy from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). AFA earned its own place on the SPLC’s Hate Map for its anti-equality statements and positions years ago. The Hate Map identified as many as one thousand US hate groups back in 2011, but that number is now down to 939 groups across the country. That’s a dreadfully high number put out by the SPLC and it only represents those that have been found by their researchers.
Of the many comments on the American Family Association’s Facebook post about the new Bigotry Map, some expressed gratitude since they could now find a local organization to join:
Some thought the map fell short of the mark and vied to have their own or other groups added:
The irony of the entire project—coming from an SLPC hate group—clearly hasn’t escaped a great many who have reported or blogged about the map.
Regardless, the Google Maps interface is surprisingly user-friendly and is a great tool for those looking for a freethought or LGBT group nearby. We’ve created such a map in Florida after spending many, many hours searching and scouring online. Most of the groups we found weren’t on any map or directory because a lot of local groups are still operating independently of any national affiliation.
Today, if you’re looking to find a local group, the online AHA affiliate and chapter map is a great place to start. The same goes for other national organizations. In addition, a couple of recently added directories are the Secular Directory and Secular Connect. Last, but not least, Meetup and Facebook are still the best local resources you’ll find.
And however incomplete it might be, the AFA’s Bigotry Map probably garnered as much media attention as they’d hoped for. Instead of putting the map onto some stone tablets, the AFA smartly used the Internet and a Google map for easy sharing and updating. Seems the religious right has discovered the Internet. Let’s just hope they discover the more humanistic aspects of the twenty-first century sooner rather than later.