Fox News reported that in early October dozens of active duty and reserve Army troops were informed during a briefing at Camp Shelby in Mississippi that the respected pro-family organization should be classified as a hate group. According to Fox, during a slide presentation at the briefing the AFA was listed “alongside domestic hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, the Black Panthers, and the Nation of Islam.”
But after the story about the misinformation gained traction in the press, the Pentagon issued a statement claiming that the designation had been based on faulty research. Pentagon spokesman George Wright insisted that the slide in question “was not produced by the Army and it does not reflect our policy or doctrine.” Wright shifted blame for the mis-designation to “a soldier conducting a briefing which included info acquired from an Internet search. Info was not pulled from official Army sources, nor was it approved by senior Army leaders, senior equal opportunity counselors, or judge-advocate personnel.”
The Pentagon spokesman added that after being challenged the soldier responsible for the slide “recognized that the information was incorrect. The briefing has been updated and any reference to American Family Association has been removed.”
A soldier who attended the briefing provided Fox News with a photo, taken from his cell phone, that listed the AFA as a hate group. “Under the AFA headline is a photograph of Westboro Baptist Church preacher Fred Phelps holding a sign reading 'No special law for f***,'” reported Fox News.
The AFA confirmed that it has never had any connection with Phelps and his radical pseudo-Christian cult, which is notorious for its efforts to disrupt the funerals of fallen American soldiers with signs bearing hateful anti-homosexual rhetoric.
The soldier told Fox that a chaplain attending the briefing challenged the instructor's hate-group designation of the AFA. “The instructor said AFA could be considered a hate group because they don’t like gays,” the soldier told Fox News. “The slide was talking about how AFA refers to gays as sinners and heathens in derogatory terms” — a reference to the incorrect connection of the AFA to the Phelps' hate group, which does indeed refer to homosexuals in hateful terms.
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