The American Family Association, a conservative nonprofit, has responded to the U.S. Army labeling evangelical Christianity and Catholicism as "extremist," by saying that the issue all comes down to views on homosexuality.
"This categorization is incorrect and unfounded. We do not hate any person or group of people; we love homosexuals enough to tell them the truth about the consequences of homosexual behavior," Tim Wildmon, president of AFA, said in a statement.
The family group blames the civil rights organization Southern Poverty Law Center for spreading misinformation to the U.S. army, which resulted in evangelicals and Catholics being listed among notorious factions like the Ku Klux Klan and al-Qaida in a recent presentation on religious extremism.
The Army presentation explained that "extremism is a complex phenomenon" and is present in every religion due to "some followers that believe that their beliefs, customs and traditions are the only 'right way' and that all others are practicing their faith the 'wrong way,' seeing and believing that their faith/religion superior to all others."
AFA says that the Southern Poverty Law Center brands anyone with a traditional view of homosexuality as extremist. The latter has even placed the family group on its long list of hate groups in America for AFA's insistence that the Bible teaches that marriage should only be between a man and a woman and that same-sex relationships are sinful.
"Based on its own website, Army values are loyalty, duty, honor, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. As evangelical, Bible-believing Christians, these are values that we not only share, but strive to uphold in every action that we take in daily life. Our loyalty and duty is to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves," Wildmon said.
The AFA accuses the Southern Poverty Law Center of "engaging in the very hate it seeks to eliminate." The family group says that it is unfair to brand those who hold traditional views based on the Bible as hate groups, and said that it will continue to pray for the civil rights group even if the SPLC continues to oppose it.
"We are calling on the Army to distance itself from Lt. Col. Rich's email as well as from the Southern Poverty Law Center's so-called 'hate group' list, to differentiate between evangelical Christians and extremism, and to educate its service members about the difference," Wildmon added.