Will the Southern Poverty Law Center Brand the Roman Catholic Church a 'Hate Group'?

In 2013, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) branded the Ruth Institute (RI) a "hate group," and has stood by this decision ever since. Last month, the credit card processing company Vanco Payments canceled its partnership with RI seemingly over this issue. Also last month, the SPLC reiterated its attack on RI, claiming to quote RI Founder and President Jennifer Roback Morse. In actuality, the quote they presented to justify labeling Morse a "hater" came from another source — the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Since the SPLC applied the "hate group" label to RI, "I don't see why they wouldn't also have to say that the Catholic Church is a hate group," Chris Gacek, senior fellow for regulatory policy at the Family Research Council (FRC), told PJ Media in an interview. "Except that it would be totally suicidal at this time."

"Absolutely, I think that's right," Roback Morse herself told PJ Media in another interview. But she argued that the reason the SPLC will not brand the largest Christian denomination a "hate group" has nothing to do with them being "afraid of the Catholic Church."

While Roback Morse admitted she does not know the SPLC's motivation, she explained, "The fact is, inside the Catholic Church, there are many shall we say gay allies. There are people inside the Church who are trying to change the Church's teaching."

"If I were the SPLC, attacking the Catholic Church would not be smart right now," the RI president added. "Better to let the Catholic Church unravel itself from the interior. But for all I know, at some point they may go after the Catholic Church and label it a hate group."

Indeed, Gacek's reasoning is sound. In its August update on the activities of "Anti-LGBT Hate Groups," the SPLC justified listing RI in this manner. "Over the years, Roback Morse has claimed that the gay rights movement is 'anti-human' and has used Catholic doctrine to assert that LGBT people are 'intrinsically disordered' and that they should remain celibate (or leave the 'gay lifestyle') and not act on their attractions."

Here is the section on homosexuality from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the authoritative statement of doctrine which Catholics must agree with:

Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.