We have dealt with the American Family Association (AFA) numerous times before. It is a reactionary, wingnut fundamentalist group, appropriately classified as a hate group by the SPLC. The AFA is ostensibly promoting family values but is currently best known for attempting to make homosexuality illegal.
Randy Sharp has for a long time been AFA’s Director of Special projects, and has thus managed many of the AFA’s numerous boycotts, such as the boycott of Home Depot (the campaign was ridiculous and unsuccessful, so the AFA declared victory and went home), and the attempt to urge parents to boycott the Boy Scouts – allowing gay boy scouts is “a very dangerous and unhealthy thing”, and lifting the ban on gay troop leaders would present a “clear and present danger” to boys, said Sharp. Other targets have included Walt Disney CO, McDonalds, Ford (the AFA claimed “success” in every case) and Planet Fitness. Back in 2006, Sharp and the AFA encouraged fans to register their dissatisfaction with Wal-Mart after Sharp had done some research on the Wal-Mart website only to discover that Wal-Mart actually sells books and videos that gay people might read (in particular, Wal-Mart was “pushing an agenda” by selling DVDs of “Brokeback Mountain”, which according to Sharp “wasn’t even a blockbuster movie”). To make things even worse, Wal-Mart was considering same-sex “partner” benefits, thus demonstrating that they had “moved from neutrality to actively promoting the homosexual lifestyle” – gays and lesbians don’t deserve health care! And in 2008 the AFA issued an “Action Alert” calling for members to protest the Campbell Soup Company after they had purchased ads in an LGBT magazine; according to the AFA, Campbell’s “sent a message that homosexual parents constitute a family and are worthy of support”; “when you specifically target a homosexual magazine, then your company is basically endorsing these activities; you’re endorsing the lifestyle,” explained Sharp, suggesting a poor grasp of the word “endorse”.
There are other distinctions Sharp and the AFA struggle with as well. The AFA is deeply critical of the “Day of Silence,” an event sponsored by GLSEN, saying that public school children should not be subjected to such “pro-homosexual rhetoric”. (Of course, since the Day of Silence is protesting prejudice, bigotry and, in particular bullying and abuse, aimed at homosexuals, saying that it constitutes “pro-homosexual” rhetoric only makes sense if you think that such bullying is okay.) Sharp encouraged parents and concerned citizens to take action: they should “write their school administrator and tell them they oppose the administration giving free rein to homosexual activist groups,” and that “if your school is participating in the ‘Day of Silence,’ that you simply keep your child home from school that day.” Of course, schools do not participate in the event; it is students at schools that organize it; the administration isn’t part of it. Truth, accuracy and basic distinctions don’t matter much to people like Sharp, however.
In 2005, Sharp managed to discern Walgreens’srealagenda behind sponsoring the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago: “homosexual encounters will take place in the thousands”, resulting in large numbers of new HIV patients; “Walgreens must be salivating at the prospect of new customers this will create,” said Sharp.
It isn’t just gay people that tick off Sharp and the AFA, however. In 2006, they launched a campaign against Sam’s Club over their use of the word “holidays” in some places where they could have used “Christmas” in their catalogue. The AFA has launched similar campaigs against e.g. Gap and RadioShack, and apparently maintains a “Naughty or Nice” list of retailers.
And according to Sharp, when political opponents give money to candidates, just like they do themselves, the AFA considers it a breach of ethics.
Diagnosis: Dull, obtuse and bigoted. Though they are slowly losing the culture wars on more or less every front, one shouldn’t forget that the AFA – and thus also Sharp – remains an influential force of evil, and they are still able to do plenty of harm.