Last year, WND reported a coalition of nearly 50 conservative leaders warned of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s open hostility to faith groups.

Now that coalition has grown to more than 60 groups, and many are considering lawsuits against SPLC for putting them on its “hate map” because of their stance on marriage and sexuality, according to PJMedia.

Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel explained the groups are considering legal action after SPLC paid more than $3 million and apologized to Maajid Nawaz and his Quilliam Foundation for putting them on its “hate” list.

Staver said SPLC has been “doing to a lot of organizations exactly what they did to Maajid Nawaz.”

Liberty Counsel already has filed a lawsuit, as have others, against GuideStar, a charity monitor that uses SPLC’s hate list to help consumers decide which non-profits are worthy of support.

As WND reported, SPLC and Nawaz and reached a settlement in which SPLC agreed it wrongly included him and his group on a list of “anti-Muslim extremists.” SPLC has agreed to pay Nawaz and Quilliam $3.375 million to fund their work to fight “anti-Muslim bigotry and extremism.”

SPLC President Richard Cohen wrote that SPLC “was wrong to include Maajid Nawaz and the Quilliam Foundation in our Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists.”

“Since we published the Field Guide, we have taken the time to do more research and have consulted with human rights advocates we respect,” he said. “We’ve found that Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam have made valuable and important contributions to public discourse, including by promoting pluralism and condemning both anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamist extremism.

“Although we may have our differences with some of the positions that Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam have taken, they are most certainly not anti-Muslim extremists. We would like to extend our sincerest apologies to Mr. Nawaz, Quilliam, and our readers for the error, and we wish Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam all the best.”

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.

“This is a significant settlement — $3.375 million, and it did not even go to litigation; it was a result of a demand letter,” Staver said.

He said the “allegations that were at issue here were very similar to the allegations against the other groups.”

“The SPLC promotes false propaganda, demonizes and labels groups they disagree with, and that labeling has economic as well as physical consequences,” Staver said.

He predicted the settlement with Nawaz “will encourage further legal action.”

PJMedia reported he thinks it likely will help his group’s lawsuit against GuideStar, and it may encourage organizations that were considering suing SPLC to file the paperwork.

“There are probably about 60 organizations that we’re talking to — there’s at least 60,” Staver told PJ Media.

He mentioned the group of 47 nonprofit leaders who denounced SPLC last year and said “that group has grown since then.”

Jennifer Roback Morse, president of the Ruth Institute, which has been attacked by SPLC, said the apology to Nawaz “has caused us to consider our options.”

And J.P. Duffy of the Family Research Council told PJMedia his group is considering its options.

Jeremy Tedesco of the Alliance Defending Freedom said it’s “appalling and offensive for the Southern Poverty Law Center to compare peaceful organizations which condemn violence and racism with violent and racist groups just because it disagrees with their views.”

“That’s what SPLC did in the case of Quilliam and its founder Maajid Nawaz, and that’s what it has done with ADF and numerous other organizations and individuals.”

SPLC was linked to domestic terrorism several years ago when Floyd Lee Corkins III attacked the Washington office of Family Research Council, with the intent, he later explained, to kill as many people as he could.

He admitted under questioning that he picked FRC because SPLC had it on its “hate” list.

Last year, the man who opened fire on Republican lawmakers practicing for a congressional baseball game was a fan of SPLC, which had falsely claimed Rep. Steve Scalise, one of the players, was a white supremacist.

D. James Kennedy Ministries already has sued SPLC over its “hate group” claims.

SPLC’s agenda also has been criticized as “incredible” by Rev. Franklin Graham, CEO and president of both Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

“A hate group? Can you believe this – the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., has labeled a number of Christian groups such as D. James Kennedy Ministries, and the Family Research Council run by my good friend Tony Perkins as ‘hate’ groups. Why?” he wrote on a Facebook post.

WND has reported in recent weeks the reliance of Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and others web giants on SPLC for its assessment of conservative groups.

Several organizations, the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Religious Freedom Coalition, have been ejected from the AmazonSmile promotional campaign because SPLC doesn’t accept their right to hold beliefs different from the leftist group.

Another recent failure for SPLC was an agreement by the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission to pay a $100,000 penalty to lawyers for state Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker, who was investigated at the insistence of SPLC for his criticism of same-sex marriage.

SPLC targeted remarks Parker made several years ago in a radio interview that made no mention of any current cases. Parker is seeking the office of chief justice for the court.

The JIC, instead of tossing the complaint as frivolous, conducted a year-long investigation.

But according to a settlement agreement approved in federal court, the state organization will pay $100,000 in legal fees for Parker’s lawyers at Liberty Counsel, and it will stop enforcing the speech-restricting judicial rules.

“The SPLC’s sinister plan has backfired spectacularly,” said Horatio Mihet, chief litigation counsel for Liberty Counsel. “The SPLC’s effort to muzzle Justice Parker has instead brought freedom of expression on critical public issues to all judges in Alabama. We are glad that the JIC has finally seen the proverbial writing on the wall and has abandoned its defense and enforcement of these unconstitutional laws.”

The state rules, once common around the country, but abandoned as unconstitutional in virtually every other jurisdiction, gave the JIC the power to prevent any judge from commenting on any case or issue pending anywhere in the nation.

SPLC’s complaint against Parker eventually was dropped, but Parker filed a separate federal legal action against the state, and a judge refused to submit to state pressure to drop the case.

“The Southern Poverty Law Center wanted to silence Justice Parker and remove him from the Alabama Supreme Court. Their ill intent backfired, and now Justice Parker has won the right for all judges to speak on important legal issues,” said Staver.

Many organizations already consider SPLC discredited. The federal government cut off cooperation with the organization.

Judicial Watch said a letter to Michael M. Hethmon, senior counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, and others, said the DOJ, under the leftist Barack Obama, even reprimanded SPLC in 2016 but it 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.

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 noted SPLC smeared the Ruth Institute, “a Christian group that believes gays should no 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:

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