WHY FISCHER MATTERS [UPDATED]…. At first blush, this may seem just another religious right nut saying something outrageous. But I continue to think idiocy like this matters.

Bryan Fischer, the “Director of Issues Analysis” for the social conservative group the American Family Association, says that when it comes to Islam, the First Amendment is a privilege, not a right. “Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam,” Fischer wrote today.

“The First Amendment was written by the Founders to protect the free exercise of Christianity. They were making no effort to give special protections to Islam. Quite the contrary,” Fischer wrote on his Renew America blog.

Now, as a matter of principle, the notion that the First Amendment only provides religious liberty to those Americans the Christian right finds tolerable is obviously insane.

But the reason I care about this is that prominent Republican officials, including GOP candidates for president of the United States, continue to reach out to Bryan Fischer as if he were a credible figure, worthy of influence and power. Remember when Mike Huckabee argued (three times) that President Obama was raised in Kenya? He was talking to Fischer at the time.

As my friend Kyle at Right Wing Watch recently explained, Fischer’s record of over-the-top hatred towards everyone who isn’t like him “does not seem to bother any of the Republican leaders who continually appear on his radio program.”

Just last week, Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker joined Fischer to discuss his anti-choice legislation, and before that it was presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty telling Fischer he’ll reinstate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

And the pattern continues, as in the last few days Fischer has had two more Republican members on Congress on his program, starting last Friday with Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey who joined Fischer to discuss his anti-choice efforts….

And then on Monday, Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia also joined Fischer to discuss his appearance on Bill Maher and defend his Creationist views.

To reiterate a point from a few weeks ago, if Fischer wants to say crazy things on his radio show, that’s obviously his business. Most of his nonsense is so absurd on its face, I generally find it easier to laugh at him than be offended.

But it’s far more troubling that powerful Republican officials, including some would-be presidents, have no qualms reaching out to a hate-filled radio host who, on a daily basis, lashes out at other Americans.

I seem to recall, in 2008, the right took a pretty strong interest in who Democratic candidates chose to associate themselves with. With that in mind, what are Huckabee, Pawlenty, and others doing paling around with an extremist like Bryan Fischer?

Update: To further prove the point, Rep. Michele Bachmann was on Fischer’s program yesterday, and today, listeners can find Huckabee (again), Newt Gingrich, and Haley Barbour.

The fact that Fischer is an unabashed bigot doesn’t seem to matter.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.