The Southern Poverty Law Center, a far-left team of activists who label Christian organizations as “hate groups” because of their biblical beliefs on homosexuality and marriage, has gained influence in recent months.
Tech giants such as Amazon have adopted the “hate list,” resulting in discrimination against widely respected groups such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, which has won cases at the U.S. Supreme Court.
But SPLC, described by pundit John Stossel as a “money-grabbing slander machine,” now faces new opposition from the federal government: a task force assembled by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
He announced this week the formation of the Religious Liberty Task Force to promote religious liberty.
Sessions warned of the dangers of allowing an organization to “actively target religious groups by labeling them a ‘hate group’ on the basis of their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
He was talking about the current threat level in the United States to religious freedom and cited a number of issues.
While he did not identify SPLC by name, Sessions said a “dangerous movement, undetected by many, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom.”
“There can be no doubt. This is no little matter. It must be confronted and defeated,” he said. “… We have gotten to the point where courts have held that morality cannot be a basis for law; where ministers are fearful to affirm … holy writ from the pulpit; and where one group can actively target religious groups by labeling them a ‘hate group’ on the basis of their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, which has been labeled a “hate group” by SPLC, said one of the first actions the Religious Liberty Task Force should take is “to demand that all federal agencies disavow association and reliance upon the SPLC.”
“The SPLC has publicly stated that its motivation is to ‘destroy’ groups with which it disagrees. The SPLC’s defamatory ‘hate group’ label encourages violence by falsely labeling peaceful, law-abiding citizens and organizations as haters and hate groups. This ‘hate’ label is false, defamatory and dangerous,” he said.
SPLC’s hate list already has inspired two shooting attacks. In 2012, Floyd Corkins chose the headquarters of the Family Research Council as a target. And last year, James Hodgkinson, inspired by SPLC, opened fire on Republican lawmakers as they practiced for the annual congressional baseball game, severely wounding Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La.
Sessions said the task force will:
- Facilitate DOJ compliance with the memoranda;
- Address novel, recurring or cross-cutting issues in the DOJ’s work implicating the memoranda;
- Facilitate interagency coordination regarding the Religious Liberty Memorandum;
- Engage in outreach to the public, religious communities and religious liberty organizations to obtain feedback on compliance with the Religious Liberty Memorandum; and
- Develop new strategies, involving litigation, policy and legislation to protect and promote religious liberty.”
Sessions also mentioned during his remarks the contributions of people of faith.
“There can be no doubt that we are stronger as a nation because of the contribution of religious Americans,” he said. “Every day across America, they feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, educate our young people, and care for the sick. They do so not because the government tells them to, but because they want to. They do these things because of their faith.”
But he said the recent cultural climate has turned negative.
“We’ve seen nuns ordered to buy contraceptives. We’ve seen U.S. senators ask judicial and executive branch nominees about dogma – even though the Constitution explicitly forbids a religious test for public office. We’ve all seen the ordeal faced so bravely by [Colorado wedding cake baker] Jack Phillips.”
He pointed out the DOJ has settled 24 civil cases with 90 plaintiffs regarding the previous administration’s wrong application of the contraception mandate to objecting religious employers.
“We have not only the freedom to worship — but the right to exercise our faith. The Constitution’s protections don’t end at the parish parking lot nor can our freedoms be confined to our basements,” he said. “Under this administration, the federal government is not just reacting—we are actively seeking, carefully, thoughtfully and lawfully, to accommodate people of faith. Religious Americans are no longer an afterthought.”
WND reported the FBI recently admitted it has continued working with SPLC, triggering a demand from a Republican lawmaker for more information.
The letter to the bureau from Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., was obtained by the Fox News Channel’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
“This is surprising and worrisome, as the SPLC is known to use its platform in order to denigrate and disparage certain groups by labeling them ‘hate groups,'” the congressman wrote.
Gaetz pointed out that SPLC puts groups such as FRC on its “hate” list because of their support for traditional marriage, while ignoring left-wing groups that engage in violence, such as Antifa.
“The SPLC’s conflation of mainstream political advocacy groups with legitimate hate groups and domestic terror groups is absurd, frequently indiscriminate and dangerous,” he said.
The FBI confirmed to “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that it “continues to have a relationship with the SPLC.”
WND reported the vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., asked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to stop the retail giant’s “sale of literature and music published by entities identified as ‘hate groups’ by the Southern Poverty Law Center.”
WND also reported the Religious Freedom Coalition was dumped from the AmazonSmile charity program because SPLC labeled it a “hate group.”
When RFC questioned Amazon about the decision, a lawyer issued a statement saying the company “relies on the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Southern Poverty Law Center to determine which registered charities fall into [the category of excluded] groups.”
Stossel noted the organization, which has hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank, noted 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.
Just last year, WND reported 47 conservative leaders urged members of the media across America to stop using “hit pieces” from SPLC.