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Follow the Money: The American Family Association and their Support of the Gay Agenda

american family association

This post will reveal that the American Family Association supports homosexuality and same-sex marriage. It took a bit of digging and following the ever-winding Evangelical money trail, but I ended up with proof that AFA money has gone to support pro-homosexual causes. Not directly, of course, but if you follow the story I tell below, you will see that money from the homophobic AFA trickled down to two gay-friendly United Methodist churches. If you follow through to the end, you will also find out that One Million Dad’s and Mom’s are anything but, and the American Family Association is little more than a chihuahua with the bark of a doberman. By the end of this post, you also will be schooled in how Evangelical groups do business, all on the taxpayer’s dime.

The American Family Association (AFA) was started in 1976 by United Methodist pastor Don Wildmon. His son Tim currently runs the operation. AFA  is a fundamentalist parachurch organization, one of the many Evangelical groups at the heart of the American culture war. One Million Moms and One Million Dads are part of the grassroots outrage wing of the AFA. People often assume that One Million Moms and One Million Dads actually each have at least one million members. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is important to understand this because their group names give the illusion that they represent a large number of Americans. They don’t, as the following graphics will clearly show:

One Million Moms Facebook

one million moms facebook
Facebook Followers for One Million Moms April 25, 2015

One Million Moms Twitter

one million moms twitter
Twitter Followers One Million Moms  April 25, 2015

One Million Dads Facebook

one million dads facebook
Facebook Followers One Million Dads  April 25, 2015

One Million Dads Twitter

one million dads twitter
Twitter Followers One Million Dads April 25, 2015

American Family Association Facebook

afa facebook
Facebook Followers American Family Association April 25, 2015

In jest, I had to show that my friend Vyckie Garrison is the ONLY one of my Facebook friends who “like” the American Family Association. 🙂

American Family Association Twitter

afa twitter
Twitter Followers American Family Association April 25, 2015

As you can see, One Million Moms, One Million Dads, and the American Family Association are anything but what their names suggest.

In 2012, the American Family Association had $20,235,585 in income. They spent $958,609 on fundraising. They paid out $8,350,108 on salaries and compensation. They paid out $2,021,882 in office expenses.  Here’s some of their other expenses:

  • Radio Network $6,919,651
  • TV Network $586,960
  • President Tim Wildmon salary $175,063
  • Executive Vice President Casey Smith salary $106,989
  • Chief Financial Officer Keith Gann salary $70,742
  • Vice President Human Resources William Hayden Salary $70,738
  • Chairman Emeritus Don Wildmon salary $136,296
  • Director Dan Celia salary $64,083
  • Pension Contributions $297,599
  • Employee Benefits $1,426,538 (note: to keep reported salaries down, compensation is hidden by calling it a benefit)
  • Advertising $647,658
  • Legal Fees $160,383
  • Products and Premiums $1,855,975 (note:giveaways and stuff for sale)
  • Public Education $1,855,975
  • Utilities $1,039,103
  • Miscellaneous Expenses $3,948,827 (note: this is also known as the ministry slush fund)

According to current Federal law, the American Family Association is considered a public charity, a 501c3 non-profit.  The following chart shows the amount of money spent on lobbying from 2009 through 2012:

afa lobbying expenses
American Family Association Lobbying Expenses from 2012 Form 990

These numbers reflect what I call the Oh My God, there’s a Kenyan born socialist nigger in the White House, also known as Barack Obama, effect. Notice the huge bump in lobbying expenditures in 2011 and 2012.

All statistics taken from 2012 American Family Association 990 Form  (link no longer active)

The American Family Association publishes a monthly magazine titled The AFA Journal. Total expenditures claimed for this endeavor? $7,273,028. Here’s where we can get a true number of how many people support the hysteria, I mean the work, of AFA. Total average subscribers for 2012? 175,000. Now you understand why the social media numbers of One Million Moms and One Million Dads is so pathetic,

As can be seen by what I have presented here, most of AFA’s money goes for salaries/benefits and radio/TV/magazine. Should U.S. taxpayers be supporting a “charitable” institution like the American Family Association? Because, that is EXACTLY what we are doing. Excluding payroll taxes, AFA, in 2012, paid $154,237 in taxes and licenses and $33,441 in use tax. That’s it. On over $20,000,000 in income, AFA paid a grand total $187,678 in taxes. Since they are a “charity”, almost all of their income is tax exempt.

Since several of the AFA staff are ordained ministers, they are eligible for the clergy housing allowance. In 2012, AFA paid out $84,710 in income tax exempt housing allowance. If the recipients are exempt from Social Security, as many clergy are, they didn’t have to pay social security taxes either.

This post reflects why I think all religious institutions should be required to pay the same taxes as businesses do. As it stands now, U.S taxpayers are funding the AFA  and every other American religious sect and parachurch organization. What is especially egregious about the American Family Association is that almost all of their money goes to promote and advance their bigoted anti-abortion, anti-homosexual, anti-same-sex marriage, anti-secular agenda. Lest you doubt their objective, here’s their Mission Statement: (link no longer active)

The mission of the American Family Association is to inform, equip, and activate individuals to strengthen the moral foundations of American culture, and give aid to the church here and abroad in its task of fulfilling the Great Commission.

PHILOSOPHICAL STATEMENT
The American Family Association believes that God has communicated absolute truth to mankind, and that all people are subject to the authority of God’s Word at all times. Therefore AFA believes that a culture based on biblical truth best serves the well-being of our nation and our families, in accordance with the vision of our founding documents; and that personal transformation through the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest agent of biblical change in any culture.

ACTION STATEMENT
The American Family Association acts to:

  • restrain evil by exposing the works of darkness
  • promote virtue by upholding in culture that which is right, true and good according to Scripture
  • convince individuals of sin and challenge them to seek Christ’s grace and forgiveness
  • motivate people to take a stand on cultural and moral issues at the local, state and national level
  • encourage Christians to bear witness to the love of Jesus Christ as they live their lives before the world

To that end, AFA spurs activism directed to:

  • Preservation of Marriage and the Family
  • Decency and Morality
  • Sanctity of Human Life
  • Stewardship
  • Media Integrity

We believe in holding accountable companies that sponsor programs attacking traditional family values. We also believe in commending those companies that act responsibly regarding programs they support.

And last, but not least, the American Family Association sells coffee beans. Yes sir, “When you purchase Thomas Street Coffee, you’re supporting efforts to proclaim the gospel of Christ in countries where 40% of unreached people groups live, including Ethiopia, Uganda, Honduras, Indonesia, and other coffee growing regions. ” (AFA reference)

In 2012, the American Family Association took in over $20,000,000. On their Thomas Street Coffee page, this is what Tim Wildmon and AFA want you to know; by buying their super-duper, God blessed coffee:

You’re also contributing to efforts to build schools, libraries, medical facilities, and clean water wells; as well as underwriting women’s literacy, agricultural education, and micro-finance programs.

Finally, your support of Thomas Street Coffee supports our parent organization, American Family Association, whose goal is to restore a strong sense of biblical values to American public life.

Based on AFA’s 2012 990 form, I couldn’t find any money going for “schools, libraries, medical facilities, and clean water wells; as well as underwriting women’s literacy, agricultural education, and micro-finance programs.” Imagine if the Wildmon’s and AFA stopped being bigots and actually used their income to help the least of these? You know, like Jesus taught?

AFA sells coffee procured from a group called Dominion Trading, an Evangelical coffee business started by Mike Stemm & Craig Meredith. Dominion was started to “help” Evangelical Ethiopian farmers:

In 2001, two Christian, American businessmen, & Craig Meredith, were asked by the Kale Heywot Church, the largest evangelical denomination in Ethiopia with nearly 7.5 million members, to come to Ethiopia to assess and make recommendations how their people could become self-sufficient and independent of foreign aid.  During that trip, God changed the hearts and priorities of these two men, and the genesis for Dominion Trading, LLC. and a unique model for missions was realized.

Dominion Trading began developing extensive relationships with the Ethiopian coffee farmers to establish trust and mutual understanding.  From that came collaboration, a focus on coffee quality, and the process to provide direct trade specialty coffee to the United States on a consistent basis.  This commitment has created long-term sustainability for many Ethiopian coffee farmers.  Additionally, a unique “relational bridge” has been built between the American coffee consumer, who enjoys some of the world’s finest coffee, and the Ethiopian farmer who produces the coffee.

Net profits from Dominion Trading’s coffee sales go to fund New Covenant Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit corporation. According to the Thomas Street Coffee website (website no longer active):

Net income from Dominion Trading’s green and roasted coffee sales in the United States is donated to their ministry partner, New Covenant Foundation (NCF).  NCF is a registered 501c3, whose mission is to 1) proclaim Jesus Christ through indigenous people, 2) to break the bonds of dependency on foreign aid by empowering individuals and communities to be self-supportive and 3) to create mutual partnerships with people that enables long-term transformation of their economy, their environment and their community.

New Covenant’s primary strategy and focus in Ethiopia is 1) supporting indigenous church planters who to-date have lead more than 15,000 people to Christ and planted more than 120 new churches and 2) providing community health education (physical, mental and spiritual)  in rural areas.  To-date, nearly 800,000 people in 500 communities, in the coffee growing regions of Sidamo and Yirgacheffe, have received the training resulting in nearly a 50% reduction in infant mortality and malnutrition.   Additional programs for people with disabilities and women are being implemented.   Another similar project is underway in Western Ethiopia to reach 2.5 million people in 1,500 communities with this life saving and transforming training.

This statement would lead most people to think that the net proceeds from Dominion Trading’s coffee is going to do many wonderful things for poor, needy Ethiopians.  However, their 2011-2013 Federal Form 990 filings tell a different story.

New Covenant Foundation 2011 990 Form

New Covenant Foundation 2012 990 Form

New Covenant Foundation 2013 990 Form

(You will have to sign up for a FREE Guidestar account in order to look at these forms. If you do any writing or research on Evangelical “ministries”, it is well worth having an account.)

Based on the 990 filings of New Covenant Foundation, the overwhelming majority of the money that was spent went to people and religious organizations in the United States!  I say, “that was spent” because at the 2013 filing deadline, New Covenant Foundation had:

  • no cash on hand
  • $707,745 savings, short term investments
  • $1,807,950 investments (up from $1,044,896 at the start of 2013)

Does all of this shock you? It shouldn’t. All the above is standard operating procedure for American Evangelical churches, institutions, and parachurch organizations. Here’s the kicker, one that should cause every reader to be rolling on the floor laughing. Let me set the background for this joke.

You’d agree that the American Family Association, One Million Moms, and One Million Dads are vehemently against homosexuality and same-sex marriage? Of course you would.

You’d agree that these groups spend a significant amount of time going after corporations, businesses, and media outlets that support the “evil” gay agenda? Of course you would.

Based on what I shared above, you’d agree that AFA buys the coffee they sell under the Thomas Street Coffee brand name from Dominion Trading who then donates its net profits to New Covenant Foundation? Of course you would.

Then please, oh please, explain to me New Covenant Foundation giving money to Osterville United Methodist Church in Osterville, Massachusetts, a church, drum roll please, that:

Reconciling congregations are United Methodist Churches that publicly welcome all persons, regardless of sexual orientation, to participate fully in the life of the community. Our statement of reconciliation says, “All persons are recipients of God’s love and grace. We share a faith in Jesus Christ and a commitment in Christianity, and this is our bond. In the spirit of God’s love and witnessing Jesus Christ’s life in action, our church welcomes all people.  We acknowledge the diversity of God’s universe and open our hearts as Christ loved His children.  Whatever your sexual orientation is, we hope you will visit us and experience the warmth of our welcoming community.

That’s right, the American Family Association buys coffee from Covenant Trading who gives its net profits to New Covenant Foundation who gives funding or makes some sort of payment to Osterville United Methodist Church, a church that considers gay people Christian.

From 2011 through 2013, New Covenant Foundation gave gay-loving Osterville United Methodist Church almost $15,000.

Oh, it gets better. New Covenant Foundation gave $200,000 to the Floris United Methodist Church, Herndon, Virginia building fund. This was the largest single expenditure in 2011 and 2012. Here’s what Floris United Methodist pastor Tom Berlin had to say about homosexuality and the angst it is causing within the United Methodist denomination:

…I am a moderate on this issue. Dead center. I represent those delegates who will vote to maintain the historic stance of the church related to GLBT issues. This is a source of great frustration to many who would like to see change. Our reading of the Bible, especially passages that we cannot translate into positive or neutral statements about homosexual practices, leads to our traditional views. I am also a pragmatist. I cannot help but see the unintended consequences of the change. Right now, in my community in Virginia, there are three formerly Episcopal churches who are being evicted from their facilities by their denomination over these issues. When this happens in the UMC, it will be the poor who will suffer because our mission and outreach budget will go unfunded. It will be the poorest of the poor who suffer the most when the UMC is no longer able to build churches, schools, clinics or have the funds to engage in disaster response around the globe in the wake of a split.

I wanted to speak on this issue because I am a father of four daughters from a generation that by and large doesn’t get what all the fuss is about. They can respect and be gracious about my opinion on human sexuality, but not the church’s silence on disagreement. But the main reason that I wanted to speak is that I serve a church that has a broad range of ideology, with tea party Republicans on one end and liberal Democrats on the other. In my work to keep our loose confederation together in the unity of Christ, I have found truth-telling and candor to be essential qualities. If you want community that includes diversity of opinion, you must have a commitment to being candid with each other. We disagree.

There are gay men and women in my church. There are many who have family members in the GLBT community. There are an abundance of people who just don’t get what all the fuss is about. I wanted to be able to tell them that their beliefs and opinions were honored in their denomination along with those who disagree. I have found that when a gay person or someone with a gay family member comes to my office, and we discuss the matter openly, honestly, and lovingly, we emerge with deeper community and less division. As a gay man said to me after one of these conversations, we don’t agree on everything, but given what you have said, I can come to church here. And I don’t want a church that is defined by my views on sexuality. I want a church where I can feel included. And based on this conversation, I can do that here…

I wonder if Tim Wildmon and the American Family Association are open and affirming towards Pastor Berlin’s statement?  (that’s a rhetorical question, BTW)

Let me conclude by saying this, as you can see from the various data above, a lot of people are profiting off of “Jesus.” Does some of the money trickle down to the “least of these”? I am sure it does. But, its actually a very small amount compared to the total amount of income received. In the case of the American Family Association, they are an advocacy group for the homophobic wing of American Evangelicalism. They spend zero dollars on true charity work. While the Federal government considers them a charity, that doesn’t mean they actually do charitable work.

In the case of Mike Stemm  and Craig Meredith and Covenant Trading/New Covenant Foundation, it appears that most of the net profits benefit churches and parachurch groups in the United States. While I’m sure some of this money filters down to Ethiopia and other African countries, it is hard to take seriously New Covenant Foundation’s mission when they were, at the end of 2013, sitting on almost $2,000,000 in cash and securities. Perhaps things look differently for 2014, but something tells me it is more of the same.

Notes

Dominion Trading Facebook page

Dominion Trading Twitter

Thomas Street Coffee sells for over $16.00 a pound  for which the poor Ethiopian farmer gets $2.50

From the FAQ of Thomas Street Coffee (Site no longer active)

How much of the profits from your coffee actually goes to the growing regions? And how do your standards compare to organizations such as Fair Trade?

The profits from our roasted coffee sales go back to purchase more green coffee and to support the work of AFA. We purchase the green coffee directly through growers and importers working with the farmers. The farmers are receiving a substantial amount of money for their green, far above any amount that the Fair Trade organization has set. In other words, we pay a premium for our green coffee. Our importers and coffee farmers work with the growers to help them increase the quality and yield on their coffee. Our growers are Christian growers and importers, therefore our purchase of their coffee helps support their work. The dollar amount varies from each region. We are helping people economically. Other items such as water wells, medical clinics, birthing centers, and schools for children come through the profits made from the sale of green coffee. These benefits come directly through the growers and the importers, giving them a practical way to share the gospel. The farmers average income for their green coffee is around $2.50 a pound, compared to Fair Trade at $1.25 per pound Some of our growers such as Kabum in Uganda have worked with the locals to set up banks and educate them about personal savings accounts. Church plants are taking place and people are being taught the importance of tithing. We at TSC are giving a hand up rather than a hand out.

 

7 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Brian

    My preacher dad used to answer much criticism of ‘Christian’ efforts by saying’ “They are Christian people and doing their very best.” Denial is a big pill to swallow and the further you look into church finances, (or church politics for that matter) the more one chokes on it. The good book can be used, as always, to back anything, and to GUARANTEE cash prosperity for believers: You do it right and God wants you to be rich!
    I do not believe that woo-woo belief organizations should be able to avoid taxation. Nor do I think it is a sound moral choice for churches to build up huge amounts in slush funds as if they were all about profits and answering to shareholders.
    Further, if these organizations would like to follow the Christ example, the salaries would be exactly inverted, with the coffee farmers looking at salaries in the five and six figures while the big wigs live on the very least they could manage, on a bit of charity, not five and six figures.
    The Christ is not an example or model to serve as a template. He is a spiritual bikini for show. Nobody really looks like The Sports Illustrated woman. Bless her holy name.

  2. Avatar
    Wilbur Right

    One of the best posts I’ve read on this site. It is eye-opening to see how Christian organizations spend the money the garner by donations. More of this information needs to be made public.

  3. Avatar
    don beenen

    can you update the numbers to 2020? It would be interesting to see how much Celia and Bryan Fischer are pulling out of there . Thanks Don

    • Avatar
      Brian Vanderlip

      Well, Wanda, which lies specifically can be shown to be false? Which statement? And exactly how is it false? When somebody goes to the trouble of informing you, well, its fine for that to bother you if you don’t like the statements offered but please do more than spurt out nonsense about your fictitious judge who is really just your big reaction given a name: Your God is Anger and Retribution, holy Hellfire wished on others. Gentle Jesus?

    • Avatar
      Sage

      Wanda, I am not worried about judgement from god or a future in hell. What I do worry about is the hell organizations like the AFA create for the LGBTQ community in this world. Stop trying to use the law to force people to live by your particular moral code. Stop standing against the “horrible perversion” of the LGBTQ community. Stop trying to rid the world of people who don’t believe like you.

      Here is an idea, go back into your little church groups and talk about how holy you are among yourselves, and stop using laws and the court to try to force me, and others, to live by your rules. I would be very happy to go about my day ignoring what you do in your church and private life when you and your ilk can ignore my private life. How I live and who I am have no bearing on your life. Stop worrying about me and instead worry about you (plank vs speck – look it up in your holy book).

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