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GuideStar Marks Family Research Council as a 'Hate Group'

Tony Perkins Family Research Council

The charity rating website GuideStar marked dozens of nonprofits as "hate groups," using data from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Among those groups is the Family Research Council (FRC), a Christian organization that was targeted by a domestic terrorist in 2012. The terrorist admitted in court that he used the SPLC "hate group" list to target FRC.

"We understand where this hate labeling can lead because we've experienced it," Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin, executive vice president at FRC, told PJ Media in an interview Friday. He insisted that the SPLC list is a political attack on conservative and Christian organizations, and that the 2012 attack is a natural result of such labeling.

"We have three bullet holes in our lobby and one of our employees with very bad bullet holes in his arm" thanks to an attacker "motivated by the Southern Poverty Law Center to come into our building and kill as many people as possible," Boykin said. Floyd Lee Corkins II broke into the FRC in the summer of 2012, intending to kill everyone in the building. An unarmed security guard, Leo Johnson, wrestled Corkins to the floor, sustaining a gunshot in the arm.

In February 2013, Floyd Lee Corkins II pled guilty to three felony charges: transporting a firearm and ammunition across state lines, assault with intent to kill, and committing an act of terrorism while armed. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison. During an FBI interrogation, the shooter said he targeted FRC because it was listed as an "anti-gay group" on the SPLC website.

This very list, which inspired the attack, was adopted by GuideStar this week. The charity website, which touts itself as "neutral" and as the world's largest source of information about nonprofits, flagged 46 nonprofits on the SPLC hate list. A banner now appears at the top of the main page for each "hate group."  The banner includes an SPLC logo and a link to its home page.

GuideStar screenshot of the Family Research Council page, with the SPLC "hate group" warning.

This new feature reflects "a broader shift in how we imagine our role in the field," GuideStar President and CEO Jacob Harold told the Associated Press. Harold described the labels as a response to the rise of "hateful rhetoric" in America. "It's unique in that it's highly politicized in a highly politicized moment in history."

But the SPLC's list has numerous problems. "There is no legitimacy to their hate labeling, none," FRC's Boykin declared. "They have no authority to do this, other than their self-appointed authority. They have no specific criteria, either. It is not credible."

"All they are is a political arm of the extreme Left — they go after conservative groups," the FRC executive director explained. In addition to FRC, SPLC lists the American Family Association (AFA), Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the American College of Pediatricians, and the Center for Immigration Studies as hate groups.

The SPLC "throws in the Klu Klux Klan and organizations like that which are all radical and dangerous," Boykin noted, but they also use the list to target their political opponents. "They come after us because of our politics, not because we could legitimately be considered an organization that advocates violence or spews hate."

To justify rating the Family Research Council as a "hate group," SPLC focuses on old comments about homosexual men being more likely to abuse children. "The SPLC designation was based on the FRC's distortion of known facts to demonize gay men as child molesters and similar false claims and had nothing to do with the FRC's support of 'natural marriage' or its belief that homosexuality is a sin," the group's website explains.

In a response sheet, the Family Research Council made its position plain. "FRC has never said, and does not believe, that most homosexuals are child molesters," the sheet declares. "However, it is undisptuated that the percentage of child sex abuse cases that are male-on-male is far higher than the percentage of adult males who are homosexual. This suggests that male homosexuality is a risk factor for child sexual abuse."

Another key SPLC issue is the old FRC position for recriminalizing homosexuality. Boykin also noted that his organization does not support that — "no more than we would recriminalize adultery or fornication." FRC considers homosexual activity, adultery, and fornication as wrong, but would not criminalize sex acts by consenting adults.

"That statement was made in 1998. We do not discuss that today," the current FRC executive director explained. "We do take a biblical view on all this, but we don't say anything that provocative."

"We have been very clear that we take a stand on marriage as being one man and one woman," Boykin said. He explained that FRC takes a "biblical stand on sexuality," which does not just forbid homosexual activity, but heterosexual activity outside of marriage as well.

But "the Left has absolutely no tolerance for a biblical or a conservative view," the FRC executive director argued. He noted the irony of both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama entering office opposing gay marriage, while conservatives are attacked as "haters" for taking that position now.

"We're not falling victim to the political correctness that is demanded, we're holding to a deeply-held religious belief," Boykin declared. "They're now going after us in a sort of bullying way because we hold to those beliefs."

The FRC executive director also attacked Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for "establishing a religious test" to disqualify Trump's nominee Russell Vought. Sanders said that because Vought wrote that Muslims and other non-Christians would "stand condemned" before God, he "is really not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about."

"What would he have done if that was a Muslim?" Boykin asked. "Would he have grilled him on Quranic restrictions on homosexuality and women? Is it just Christians? I think the answer is yes, it is just Christians."

The FRC executive director warned that by adopting SPLC's list of "hate groups," GuideStar might be violating their 501(c)3 nonprofit status. "They are clearly going after organizations with a different view, and they are using data from an organization that was connected to domestic terrorism in federal court," he said.