The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has released its annual “Year in Hate and Extremism” report that identifies “940 active hate groups across the United States in 2019.” Anyone familiar with this list knows how malignantly flawed it is. It designates a number of mainstream Christian organizations as “hate groups” simply because of their beliefs about homosexuality and transgenderism. Two groups highlighted in the report are the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and the Family Research Council (FRC).
ADF’s senior counsel, Jeremy Tedesco, slammed the report and its timing in an interview with NBC News saying,
“It is appalling that the Southern Poverty Law Center would choose this time of national emergency to launch their divisive and false ‘hate report,'” Tedesco told NBC News. “We call on SPLC to retract the report, stop sowing division and join the rest of America against our common foe: COVID-19.”
[SPLC spokesperson Lecia] Brooks dismissed criticisms of SPLC releasing its annual report during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Fighting hate is something we have to keep at the forefront of our minds,” she said. “They don’t take a break, and we don’t take a break either.”
The spokesperson for SPLC, Lecia Brooks, answered criticisms of the report. And this is the part that you need to read:
Brooks said SPLC stands by its “hate group” designations and dismissed criticisms that the organization disproportionately focuses on religious groups.
“We are not against Christian groups,” Brooks said. “For us, it’s more about the way they go out of their way to demonize LGBTQ folks.”
Brooks also lamented the lack of public pushback against many of these groups.
“Sadly, there is not enough public outcry against anti-LGBTQ groups because we have just let it go saying, ‘That’s just their religion,'” she said…
“Religious conservatives have taken this as an opportunity to push back on any civil rights gains LGBTQ folks have made,” Brooks said. “They couch it in ‘religious freedom,'” she added.
Two things to note here.
First, Brooks is saying that religious beliefs are no excuse for holding the view that sexual immorality is wrong. Any group that holds such beliefs and acts on them in ways that offend the SPLC could be designated as a hate group. This is fair warning. We can expect SPLC to add many Christian groups to this list in the coming years. In fact, I won’t be surprised when whole denominations begin to appear. It’s just a matter of time.
Second, Brooks believes that “religious freedom” is a ruse for hate. She dismisses out of hand the Supreme Court decisions that have found legitimate violations of religious freedom, like that of the Colorado cake baker. There is no legitimate religious freedom issue in any such cases. A person’s religious conscience must be sacrificed when it comes to “LGBTQ rights.” Because ADF defends the likes of the Colorado baker, ADF is a hate group.
The Southern Poverty Law Center holds the 2000-year-old teaching of the Christian church in open contempt and says that anyone who holds to such teaching is liable to being publicly shamed as a “hate group.” It’s truly astonishing that so many media personalities still refer to this list as authoritative when it comes to naming hate groups. Nevertheless, I hope it’s clear that this really is a malignantly flawed report. If you want reliable data on bad actors in our country, don’t ask the SPLC. They clearly don’t know what they are talking about.