Tuesday, November 12, 2019

#2266: David E. Smith

The Illinois Family Institute, a state affiliate of the American Family Association, is, not surprisingly, an anti-marriage-equality organization and its executive director, David E. Smith, a fundamentalist bigot (Smith succeeded Peter LaBarbera in the position; Laurie Higgins is their director of school advocacy). The IFI is also a vociferous opponent of abortion, the separation of church and state, “activist judges”, gambling and drugs, and was correctly designated a hate group by the SPLC.

In spring 2013, when a law legalizing same-sex marriage was postponed by the Illinois legislature, Smith was ready to explain why: “The Body of Christ here in Illinois has risen up and has really made a noise and made a really concerted effort to make sure that our state lawmakers know without a doubt that we object to the idea of them redefining marriage,” Smith said: “They do not have the moral authority to redefine marriage as God created it.” This was not the reason for postponement. Moreover, neither Smith nor his fellows at the Illionis Family Institute have the power to raise zombie Jesus, even though they probably wouldn’t be prevented from doing so by alignment restrictions. 

Later Smith sent out a fundraising appeal where he warned that if activists failed to stop marriage equality legislation in Illinois, “America will collapse” like Sodom and Gomorrah, and compared his fight against the evil agenda” of gay rights to that of American soldiers in WW2: “We should be inspired to defend marriage with the same courage, conviction, tenacity, and sacrifice that the greatest generation fought to defend American principles and to honor their fallen. If we don’t stop the enemy from achieving his goal of destroying the family, there won’t be any monuments to visit.” Yes, it’s always the end of everything; only apostates would ask for evidence or reasons.

In 2012, IFI called for parents to remove their children from classrooms led by teachers who support LGBT-related instruction; in particular, in their document “Challenge Teachers, Not Books” they encouraged parents to “object to teachers rather than texts”, and offered suggestions for parents who are “fed up with the subtle and not so subtle messages that activist teachers of a liberal bent work into their classroom teaching through their classroom comments, curricular materials ... and even their desks and classroom displays.” The IFI has also for a long time advocated teaching creationism in public schools, ostensibly as a way to present “both sides of an argument” (they aren’t really interested in both sides, even if there were two sides, which there aren’t), and have made recommendations to Illinois educators to keep explicit references to evolution out of public school classrooms in Illinois.

Diagnosis: Fundie loons, and though they have probably lost the war people like Smith are still trying their best to cause as much harm as possible. A real, if relatively minor, threat to civilization.

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