WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Anti-Defamation League asked the Republican National Committee to reconsider an Israel trip sponsored by a group associated with attacks on gays and minorities.
“Groups promoting anti-Muslim, anti-LGBT, anti-Mormon hate from their platforms seem an inappropriate partner for what was meant to be a positive effort,” Politico in an article on Tuesday quoted ADL’s Washington director, Stacy Burdett, as saying in a private communication to the party committee a week before the Jan. 31 departure date.
The trip, funded by the American Family Association and the American Renewal Project, stirred controversy last month when the Southern Poverty Legal Center urged all 168 members of the Republican National Committee not to join, naming the American Family Association, or AFA, as a “hate group.”
Some 60 RNC members had signed on for the trip.
RNC officials have said that the tour is not an official RNC event and have described it “as an opportunity to see some of the historical sights of Israel and to advance their understanding of U.S.-Israel relations.”
In its initial release Jan. 20 calling on RNC members not to travel with AFA, the Southern Poverty Legal Center focused on AFA spokesman Bryan Fischer and comments he made attacking gays, blacks and Hispanics and declaring that America is a Christian nation.
On Jan. 29, AFA wrote the Southern Poverty Legal Center to say it had removed Fischer as spokesman. The letter said the conservative group repudiated his offensive comments, but allowed him to continue to broadcast and blog through the group’s media.
In response, the center said Fischer’s continued association with the AFA undercut its bid to distance itself from him and noted anti-gay pronouncements by other AFA officials.
The Politico report said that some conservatives and evangelical Christians were beginning to wonder whether it was wise for the RNC to associate itself with the AFA.