The American Family Association has taken aim at fellow religious conservative Brannon Howse over his criticism of the AFA’s recent sponsorship of GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry’s The Response prayer meeting. Earlier this week, Jim Stanley, program director of AFA’s radio network, American Family Radio, sent notices to two talk show hosts who are associated with Howse, informing them that continued presence on the AFA’s radio network was conditioned on severing ties with Howse.
The talk show hosts, John Loeffler and Todd Friel, have shows aired by American Family Radio and also speak at Howse sponsored events. According to Tim Wildmon, president of the AFA, “we identified two people with programs on our networks and told them, ’you have to make a choice.’” In defense of the move, Wildmon said “AFR is under no obligation to run programs of individuals who are going to help Brannon when he is attacking our friends. We make programming decisions all the time.”
Howse heads Worldview Weekend, a socially conservative ministry which espouses similar conservative views as the AFA on culture war issues as abortion and homosexuality. However, Howse charges that religious right leaders have formed improper religious alliances with leaders in the New Apostolic Reformation such as Cindy Jacobs in order to promote a conservative political agenda. About his stance, Howse said, “Christians must defend the gospel when we believe Christian leaders are giving credibility to what the Bible describes as false teaching. About Wildmon’s concerns, Howse added, “I have avoided naming this radio network or pro-family group and I have avoided naming several of the pro-family groups hoping they would repent.”
Wildmon acknowledged that Howse had not named the AFA in his articles but “everybody knows who he’s talking about.” In an email, Wildmon told me that Howse had tried to “sabotage The Response that we were sponsors of and has gone after our friends and associates like Jim Garlow, Tony Perkins, James and Shirley Dobson, etc., by name.” He explained that the network had received calls from listeners and that the situation had been “a headache.”
Wildmon also pointed to an article on the Worldview Weekend website titled, “Pro-Family and Christian Leaders Unite with ‘Prophet’ Cindy Jacobs” and which included a link to the sponsors of The Response. Wildmon said, “The headline was unfair. We did not unite with Cindy Jacobs.” Asked who invited her to endorse the event, Wildmon responded that he did not know, saying “maybe it was someone from Governor Perry’s office.”
One of the targeted talk show hosts, John Loeffler, has decided not to continue with the AFR. Loeffler said, “I told Tim [Wildmon], ‘you may remove my show based on your ultimatum since I will not stop speaking for Brannon Howse.’” Loeffler said he had no notice and was required to give an answer by the middle of next week. He added that he knew few specifics about the dispute and that he had not discussed the topic on his show.
Friel and Loeffler are both slated to speak at Worldview Weekend events in 2011 and 2012. Until recently, they have hosted shows broadcast on the AFR. Friel’s show is called Wretched Radio and airs on Saturday evenings. Loeffler’s show, Steel on Steel, will continue to broadcast on other stations. Friel did not want to comment for this article.