Extreme anti-LGBTQ group American Family Association (AFA) has stopped airing significant amounts of its American Family Radio (AFR) programming in the past three months, including losing host Janet Mefferd and its entire dedicated Urban Family Communications network.
AFR is a right-wing evangelical radio network that regularly pushes misinformation and hate about the LGBTQ community. It broadcasts more than 60 shows to nearly 200 stations and affiliates across 35 states and airs 24/7 as a part of AFA’s larger media apparatus, which also includes news website OneNewsNow. AFA is an extreme anti-LGBTQ group that also launches dubious anti-LGBTQ petitions, tries to affect corporate behaviors regarding LGBTQ and other social issues, engages in dehumanizing rhetoric, and endorses extreme policies such as Russia’s anti-LGBTQ “gay propaganda” law.
AFA is unique for being an anti-LGBTQ group with its own media apparatus. This gives it the ability to spread misinformation to various audiences, contributing to a broader ecosystem of right-wing evangelical media outlets that can create viral content, get influential figures on the record, and even air TV programming in countries across the world.
American Family Radio has lost a prominent host and an entire outreach ministry since June
On August 30, Mefferd, the host of the AFR program Janet Mefferd Live and one of the radio network’s most prominent hosts, abruptly resigned from AFR. She claimed that she resigned due to a need “to lighten my heavy daily workload of hosting two national radio shows for the last three years.”
Mefferd’s other daily Christian talk radio show, Janet Mefferd Today, will continue to air on Bott Radio Network, a Christian radio network with a smaller reach than AFR at 120 stations across 15 states, and the show currently reruns on select AFR stations on Saturdays. Mefferd’s seemingly sudden resignation came just hours after her final AFR Janet Mefferd Live broadcast, which she concluded without announcing her departure, saying, “Thanks a lot for all of your calls and for listening today. We’ll see you next time right here on American Family Radio.”
Just over two months prior to Mefferd’s resignation, on June 24, AFA consolidated its Urban Family Communications ministry into AFR’s broader radio lineup. Several Urban Family Talk radio shows have stopped airing on AFR's networks as a result. Created in 2013, Urban Family Communications was AFR’s outreach ministry targeted toward Christian communities of color and consisted of six radio stations that were known as Urban Family Talk. In addition to its radio network, Urban Family Communications’ outreach efforts included a pastors network and a marriage, family, and life conference.
AFA’s decision to shut down Urban Family Communications resulted in four Urban Family Talk shows being completely removed from AFA's radio programming: Back 2 God, The BSAC Radio Show, Equipped with Chris Brooks, and Stacy on the Right. At least one of these shows has continued to air elsewhere since the network's consolidation.
In June, AFA claimed that four Urban Family Talk shows -- Airing the Addisons, The Awakening with Bishop E.W. Jackson, The Hour of Intercession, and Lion Chasers with Lonnie Poindexter -- would “officially join the AFR lineup” beginning “with Airing the Addisons starting the week of July 1, 2019, and the other programs as soon as possible.” However, Lion Chasers with Lonnie Poindexter has yet to join the AFR lineup, and The Awakening with Bishop E.W. Jackson was only brought to the network on September 3 as a replacement for Janet Mefferd Live.
Mefferd used her platform at AFR to spread hate and misinformation about LGBTQ people
Mefferd has worked in Christian media for over 25 years and started her AFR show Janet Mefferd Live in 2016. Mefferd regularly spewed anti-LGBTQ lies and rhetoric on AFR radio waves, and she has worked to portray LGBTQ people and Christianity as incompatible. Here are a few examples of her extreme claims:
Mefferd lamented efforts by churches to include LGBTQ people, attacking inclusive churches for having “no mention of repentance, no mention of turning from sin,” and saying, “This is just not biblical at all. Not at all.”
Mefferd claimed that if churches accept LGBTQ people, “your church will be gone, and you won’t get it back.”
Mefferd said that parents involved with Drag Queen Story Hour should be “arrested for endangering the welfare of a child.”
Mefferd advocated against gay Christian children’s pastors, suggesting they could lead to more “abuse scandals.” She asked listeners, “Is that what you would want from your children’s pastor -- to come out of the closet and say, ‘I’m gay, and by the way, I’m your children’s pastor’?”
Mefferd cited a Holocaust poem to defend conversion therapy.
Mefferd claimed that reading books about gender identity to children is “child abuse.”
Mefferd also used her AFR show to promote the God’s Voice conference, a convening of evangelical Christians providing a “biblical response to the queering of the church.” God’s Voice was created to oppose the Revoice conference, an LGBTQ-inclusive Christian conference that seeks to “support and encourage gay, lesbian, bisexual, and other same-sex attracted Christians.” While promoting God’s Voice, Mefferd said that the LGBTQ activists organizing Revoice are trying “to move toward LGBTQ+ Christianity, not that there is any such thing” and told her listeners that they should be worried because LGBTQ advocates “care about changing you, and changing your kids, and changing your churches, and changing your denomination.”
E.W. Jackson, Mefferd’s replacement, also has a rich history of spewing anti-LGBTQ rhetoric
E.W. Jackson started his Urban Family Talk show The Awakening With Bishop E.W. Jackson in 2016. It briefly went off air this year before moving to AFR to replace Janet Mefferd Live. Jackson is also the president and founder of the group Staying True to America’s National Destiny (STAND), which claims to seek to “unite Americans as one nation under God for the preservation and defense of our Judeo-Christian heritage and values, Constitution, free market economy, national security and the freedom of every citizen.” STAND coordinates town hall meetings about an alleged rise of communism and “the Growing Threat of Marxism in America” and convenes a weekly National Awakening Coalition conference call that has featured U.S. Reps. Rob Wittman (R-VA) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and anti-LGBTQ figures The Activist Mommy and Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver.
Jackson routinely used his Urban Family Talk show to spout misinformation and make bigoted comments about the LGBTQ community. Here are a few examples of his extreme rhetoric:
Jackson said that “there’s really no such thing as a sexual orientation,” calling it “a legal fiction” and “a cute phrase … to try to disarm everybody,” and he compared LGBTQ people to pedophiles.
Jackson said that transgender people “need to be converted to the proper gender” and “they need to be converted to Jesus Christ.”
Jackson said that LGBTQ activists “in sentiment -- thank God, not in behavior yet -- in sentiment, they’re the same as these radical terrorist Islamists who hate Christians.”
Jackson equated bestiality to being LGBTQ, asking, “Is bestiality another sexual orientation?” He called it a “legitimate question.”
Jackson said that “the devil makes homosexuals, not God.”
Jackson claimed that people who go by gender neutral pronouns are under the “possession” of “multiple demons.”
Jackson suggested that if an LGBTQ activist tried to give pro-LGBTQ literature to his kids, he “would really need the grace of God not to jump on that person and try to beat them into the ground.” He also said that LGBTQ people “can’t really be parents, not in the normal sense.”
Within a week of starting as an AFR host, Jackson has already claimed that “homosexuality is not normal, and normal people find it disgusting.” He also called openly gay presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg “loathsome” and said that Buttigieg’s identification as a gay Christian is “more perverse than his lifestyle” that takes him “into blasphemous sin.” He continued, claiming that Buttigieg was similar to a pastor “sexually abusing someone in their parish and then using God as an excuse.”
Jackson will now have a platform to spew hate about the LGBTQ community alongside AFR’s slate of anti-LGBTQ radio hosts including Bryan Fischer, Sandy Rios, and Tony Perkins, the president of the extreme anti-LGBTQ group Family Research Council.