It's not clear exactly when the Southern Poverty Law Center, which years ago famously battled the KKK, turned against Christians and conservatives, but the evidence that it has is overwhelming.
After all, the group that holds hundreds of millions of dollars in its bank accounts, many of them overseas, once labeled famed surgeon and conservative Dr. Ben Carson, now HUD secretary, as a "hater" because of his Christian worldview.
Advertisement - story continues below
SPLC was the source of the information Floyd Corkins used to target the Family Research Council with a mass-murder attempt at the Christian organization's Washington, D.C., headquarters.
Corkins was foiled by a security officer, but SPLC was formally linked to domestic terror in a federal court case.
The group routinely lashes out at any organization that opposes abortion, transgenderism, or other left-wing causes, publicly calling them "haters."
Lashes out at those who oppose abortion
Advertisement - story continues below
SPLC has exhibited behavior so egregious that it was reprimanded by the far-left administration of Barack Obama.
The "alt-left" has been around for decades, but conservatives have remained ignorant. Now, WND takes you inside antifa with an exclusive special report revealing the origins, motivations and future of America's most widespread and active domestic terrorist group. Get your FREE copy of "Antifa: What Americans Need to Know about the Alt-Left."
Judicial Watch, citing a letter to Michael M. Hethmon, senior counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, and others, said the DOJ reprimand came in 2016 but was "kept quiet at the agency's request."
"[It] involves the SPLC's atrocious behavior during immigration court proceedings. Two groups that oppose illegal immigration, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), were the target of personal, baseless and below-the-belt attacks from SPLC attorneys during official immigration court proceedings. The SPLC filed a motion attacking and defaming the two respected nonprofits by describing them as 'white supremacist,' 'eugenicist,' 'anti-Semitic,' and 'anti-Catholic.' In its reprimand the DOJ says it is troubled by the conduct of SPLC lawyer Christopher Strawn and that his conduct 'overstepped the bounds of zealous advocacy and was unprofessional,'" the report said.
Now, SPLC's slandering of groups that promote traditional American values has generated a petition for the group to face justice.
Advertisement - story continues below
Columnist Tom DeWeese at American Policy said there are a couple of reasons why the SPLC is so dangerous.
First, he explained, the SPLC contracts with the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security to advise on domestic terrorism.
For example, a 2009 DHS report, "Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment," was basically written by SPLC.
The report singles out groups that oppose abortion or illegal immigration.
Advertisement - story continues below
As with others over the years, the report was was sent to law enforcement agencies across the nation, resulting in police departments issuing bulletins to their officers "to be on the watch for dangerous right-wing activity," DeWeese said.
SPLC also has organized a working group to "teach local law enforcement how to counter terrorism," but one member is Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America, "who has been accused of funding terrorist organizations," DeWeese pointed out.
The second reason SPLC is a dangerous threat to American freedom is its so-called "Hate List," DeWeese said.
"Each year, the SPLC updates its list of 'extremist' groups and individuals it declares to be dangerous. Does the list include Black Lives Matter ... ANTIFA, or any of the forces that have taken credit for opening fire on crowds attending public events? Nope. SPLC's list of hate groups are those who oppose Obamacare and NAFTA, are concerned about the economy, and perhaps stockpile food to prepare for possible bad economic times. These are 'Right Wing Extremists.' The list goes on to include people like Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, and Sen. Rand Paul. … The list also includes nearly any conservative and Christian organizations that advocate limited government or Christian teachings or government adherence to the Constitution," he wrote.
Calling for congressional probe
DeWeese is calling for the "leftist outfit" to be investigated by the congressional Homeland Security Committee, and an online petition has been posted for people to join in the request.
Addressed to Chairman Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican, the petition states: "It appears SPLC is abusing ties to the Department of Homeland Security to threaten and accuse pro-Constitution groups and activists across the nation of potential domestic terrorism. For example, SPLC and DHS documents they have influenced, have so labeled many who simply advocate constitutional government; opposition to abortion; and opposition to various economic programs. It appears that federal funds have been used for this activity."
The groups smeared by SPLC, consequently, could be denied their First Amendment rights, the petition argues.
"SPLC has already incorporated such unsubstantiated and outrageous charges in reports published by DHS, including the 'Domestic Extremism Lexicon;' a 2009 report by the Missouri Fusion Center; and through the DHS' Countering Violent Extremism Working Group, to name a few examples," the petition states. "Such charges are a dangerous threat to individual freedom and an abuse of government funds against loyal and law-abiding American citizens."
The petition seeks an "immediate investigation into the activities of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), its ties to the Department of Homeland Security, and its tax-exempt status."
SPLC 'guilty of the hate it claims to fight'
DeWeese said SPLC "is a dangerous organization, guilty of the hate it claims to fight."
"Yet it works closely with our own government in its quest to destroy any Americans who hold opposing views, even to the point of denying them a place in society. The fact is the SPLC would just be another run of the mill leftist outfit if it didn't have such close ties with our government. Those ties need to be thoroughly investigated by the congressional Homeland Security Committee and then severed immediately."
Get the Whistleblower magazine's revelations about SPLC in "The Hate Racket," the story of how one group fools government into equating Christians and conservatives with Klansmen and Nazis – and rakes in millions doing it.
Commentator John Stossel, in a WND column, joined the effort to expose SPLC.
"SPLC once fought useful fights. They took on the Ku Klux Klan. But now they go after people on the right with whom they disagree," he wrote. "They call the Family Research Council a hate group because it says gay men are more likely to sexually abuse children. That's their belief. There is some evidence that supports it. Do they belong on a 'hate map,' like the Ku Klux Klan, because they believe that evidence and worry about it?
"I often disagree with the council, but calling them a hate group is unfair. In my YouTube video this week, the group's vice president, Jerry Boykin, tells me, 'I don't hate gay people. And I know gay people, and I have worked with gay people.'"
Stossel noted that lambasting someone with a "hate group" label makes them a target, referring to the attack on the Family Research Council by Corkins.
Stossel also reported SPLC smears the Ruth Institute, "a Christian group that believes gays should not have an equal right to adopt children."
The institute's president, Jennifer Roback Morse, says they're not "haters."
"I like gay people. I have no problem with gay people. That's not the issue. The issue is, what are we doing with kids and the definition of who counts as a parent," she said.
For that, Stossel said, SPLC put the Ruth Institute on its "hate map."
'That led the institute's credit card processor to stop working with them. In a letter to the institute, the processor company said that it had learned that the 'Ruth Institute ... promotes hate, violence, harassment and/or abuse,'" he reported.
Stossel said: "SPLC is now a hate group itself. It's a money-grabbing slander machine."
See Stossel's video report on SPLC:
WND reported when SPLC President Richard Cohen explained why antifa, the loosely affiliated "anti-fascist" movement that uses violence to shut down speech it doesn't like, is not a hate group.
Cohen said it's because the brutally violent "domestic terrorists" don't actually espouse hate.
"If you are familiar with our work, we write about antifa often," Cohen told the House Homeland Security Committee on Nov. 30. "We condemn their tactics – I've said so publicly and we do so always – but antifa is not a group that vilifies people on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion and the like."
Conservative leaders push back
Last September, WND reported 47 conservative leaders urged members of the media across America to stop using "hit pieces" from SPLC.
The leaders included Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center, Edwin Meese of the Heritage Foundation, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William Boykin of the Family Research Council, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel and Michael Farris of the Alliance Defending Freedom, Frank Gaffney and Clare Lopez of the Center for Security Policy, Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute, Frank Wright of D. James Kennedy Ministries, Scott Walter of the Capital Research Center, David Barton of WallBuilders, David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center, Martin Mawyer of the Christian Action Network, Tim Wildmon and Sandy Rios of the American Family Association, and Joseph Farah, founder and CEO of WND.com
An announcement about the letter charged SPLC "has recklessly labeled dozens of mainstream conservative organizations as 'hate groups.'"
The letter states: "We are writing to you as individuals or as representatives of organizations who are deeply troubled by several recent examples of the media's use of data from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The SPLC is a discredited, left-wing, political activist organization that seeks to silence its political opponents with a 'hate group' label of its own invention and application that is not only false and defamatory, but that also endangers the lives of those targeted with it."
Another SPLC-inspired shooting
Last June, SPLC supporter James Hodgkinson shot Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La.; Zach Barth, a staff member for Rep. Roger Williams; former congressional staff member Matt Mika; and two U.S. Capitol Police officers at a practice for a charity baseball game.
SPLC had demonized Scalise for promoting white supremacy and inferred he is a "hater."
Liberty Counsel and D. James Kennedy Ministries have gone to court over SPLC's charge they are "hate" organizations.
SPLC, or its advocates, already have experienced the negative effects of its "hate" campaign.
WND reported when an organization that posts financial information for charities, Guidestar, abruptly dropped its posting of SPLC's "hate" designations for conservative groups.
And SPLC got burned when it complained about the pro-family comments of an Alabama Supreme Court justice during a radio interview.