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A team of Christian activists, black pastors and Orthodox Jews have called on the Southern Poverty Law Center, which bills itself as an organization “dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry,” actually to speak out against the hate that exists in society these days.

“The SPLC has moved from monitoring actual hate groups like the KKK and Neo Nazis to slandering mainstream Christian organizations with that very same ‘hate group’ label,” said Matt Barber, vice president of Liberty Counsel Action, who attended a news conference held outside the headquarters of the SPLC today in Alabama.

“By extension, the SPLC is smearing billions of Christians and Jews worldwide as ‘haters,’ simply because they embrace the traditional Judeo-Christian sexual ethic,” Barber said.

The event was assembled by Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, one of the organizations following biblical standards regarding sexuality that have been tagged by SPLC as “hate” groups.

“AFTAH is a Christian organization that endeavors to expose and oppose the homosexual-lesbian-bisexual-transgender movement,” he said. “We regard all homosexual practice as sinful, according to thousands of years of Judeo-Christian tradition, teaching and divine revelation. We also regard homosexual behavior as destructive, unnatural but, importantly, changeable – as proved by the thousands of former homosexuals – men and women who once considered themselves ‘gay’ but have left their old homosexual lifestyle behind,” he said.

The SPLC declined to respond to a WND request for comment about the news conference. But the organization did post online a statement slamming those who participated.

The SPLC said, “Claiming that the SPLC is engaged in a ‘campaign to demonize adherents of traditional Judeo-Christian morality,’ the white organizers of the press conference are brining along a set of black pastors is a presumed bid to embarrass the SPLC.”

The statement attacked LaBarbera and said his description of homosexuality as “lethal” is wrong.

Others participating in the event were Patrick Wooden of Upper Room Church of God in Christ in Raleigh, N.C.; DL Foster of Gay Christian Movement Watch of Atlanta; Tim Johnson of Fredrick Douglass Foundation of Washington; Rachel Conner of Abiding Truth Ministries; Pastor Glen Sawyer of New Mt. Zion Church of God in Christ in Elizabeth City, N.C.; Pastor Wil Nichols of Victorious Praise Fellowship in Durham, N.C., Pastor Jon Robinson of Kingdom C.O.M.E. Ministries of Clairton, Pa.; and Pastor Kenneth Jefferson of Greater Harvet COGIC.

Also joining the effort, even though they were not in attendance, were Rabbi Yehuda Levin of the Rabbinical Alliance of America; Laurie Higgins of Illinois Family Institute, Arthur Goldberg who wrote “Light in the Closet”; Linda Harvey of Mission America; and Brian Camenker of Mass Resistance.

LaBarbera said the SPLC’s decision to label Christian-oriented organizations as “hate groups” and its refusal to describe physical assaults by those who don’t agree with the Judeo-Christian standard on sex as “hate” is making its assessments unreliable.

He explained his own organization was slammed as a “hate group” by the SPLC – “reportedly after being lobbied to do so by the Gay Liberation Network, a Marxist homosexual group in Chicago whose co-leader, Bob Schwartz, once told me that he would have pushed me into oncoming traffic on Chicago’s busy streets were it not for the present of police nearby.”

That means, he said, “the SPLC is conspiring with objectively hateful homosexual extremists to smear and demonize its Christian target groups as ‘haters.’”

SPLC chief Richard Cohen has said his group doesn’t oppose the “clash of ideas.”

“We do, however, feel it is important to point out when claims being made are demonstrably false, and when disparaging, emotion-provoking stereotypes are used in place of facts and logic,” he’s said.

LaBarbera said that is “preposterous.”

“First of all, the SPLC knows full well that it seeks to discredit its targets in the media, thus limiting their reach and the propagation of their ideas in the public. How better to accomplish that goal than to have its followers attach the name ‘hate group’ to these organizations,” he said.

“But the SPLC’s high-minded rhetoric is made more absurd when put in the context of the company that SPLC keeps. For example, last year the SPLC launched a new project discrediting former homosexuals by partnering with a homosexual group, ‘Truth Wins Out.’ This organization is led by Wayne Besen, who has earned the reputation among pro-family advocates as one of the most vicious homosexual activists operating in the United States today. Besen has dedicated his life to discrediting the notion that people can leave homosexuality behind in their life – a truth [that] is reaffirmed by … DL Foster, who once called himself ‘gay’ but is now a married family man and preacher. Now SPLC and Besen are working hand-in-hand against the idea of healthy change away from homosexuality in people’s lives – a distinctly Christian concept,” LaBarbera said.

LaBarbera continued, “SPLC’s partner, Wayne Besen, came up with some ‘demonizing propaganda’ of his own, calling me ‘Porno Pete’ because Americans For Truth has exposed some extreme homosexual events. So filled with hate and bitterness is Besen that in a recent radio talk show debate on Barry Lynn’s show ‘CultureShocks,’ he began calling me ‘Porno Pete’ openly on air. Such a nasty smear, repeated and spread on the Internet, is pure hatred. Having your name attached to pornography – as a Christian advocate – is bad enough. But having it done so by a fellow who claims to be fighting ‘hate’ is truly bizarre and illustrates how much of a sham is the SPLC’s ‘hate’ politics.”

LaBarbera also explained that SPLC has not labeled as “hate,” the work of homosexual activist Dan Savage, whose “Santorum[dot]com” website “redefines” the GOP presidential candidate’s last name as the “disgusting byproduct of anal sex.”

“Where is the SPLC when it comes to this brand of pro-homosexual ‘hate’?” LaBarbera asked.

He he noted the recent vandalism in the name of anti-Christian hate.

It happened at a recent AFTAH banquet where Scott Lively was speaking.

“Two large paver bricks were thrown through the glass doors of the Christian Liberty Academy, which hosted our banquet, in the early morning of Oct 15, the day of the banquet,” LaBarberar said.

He said at that time Bob Schwartz – co-leader of the SPLC’s ally, the Gay Liberation Network – said: “[Gay Liberation Network] did not, and will not condemn the actions of persons who threw the pavers, assuming that they did so out of hatred of Lively, [AFTAH President Peter] LaBarbera, and the Christian Liberty Academy.”

Barber said, “What’s most troubling is that there are actually law enforcement agencies around the country that still use the SPLC’s ‘hate group’ resources. I encourage all law enforcement to discard the SPLC as it has discarded any semblance of objectivity and usefulness. Today’s SPLC is simply a well-funded MoveOn.org.”

Diane Gramley of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania said her group supports the effort to expose the SPLC.

She said, “The SPLC needs to re-examine its misguided efforts in attacking pro-family groups and get back to its original efforts of monitoring real hate groups.”

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