On Thursday, Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), declared the Family Research Council (FRC), a Christian non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the family, more dangerous than the Ku Klux Klan.
“We’re always believed it’s important to take on groups like the FRC that have a foothold in the mainstream,” Cohen wrote. “In many ways, they’re more dangerous to our country than hatemongers who wear robes and hoods.”
Cohen attacked the FRC following this past weekend’s “Values Voter Summit,” the organization’s annual event. This particular summit attracted unusual attention because President Donald Trump addressed it, becoming the first sitting president to do so.
Cohen blasted the gathering as “a rogue’s gallery of far-right extremists,” and upbraided Trump for “shamefully lending the legitimacy of the White House to hate groups like the Summit’s host, the Family Research Council, and its president, Tony Perkins.”
The SPLC has long marked mainstream conservative and Christian organizations “hate groups,” listing them along with racist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan. This is the first time the organization actually called the FRC worse than the KKK, however.
What makes these “far-right extremists” so dangerous? In the case of the Family Research Council, it mostly boils down to their embrace of traditional Christian sexual morality, from an emphasis on the family to an opposition to same-sex marriage.
The SPLC doesn’t just brand Christian groups “hateful” for supporting biblical sexuality — it also advocates for homosexuality and transgenderism in schools, and has done so for years.
Furthermore, the leftist organization has continued to brand FRC as a “hate group,” even after that very labeling caused a terrorist attack against the Christian organization.
In August 2012, Floyd Lee Corkins II opened fire at the FRC headquarters in Washington, D.C., intending to murder everyone in the building, and place Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwiches by their bodies. Corkins pled guilty to committing an act of terrorism and was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2013.
During an FBI interrogation, the terrorist admitted he targeted FRC because it was listed as an “anti-gay group” on the SPLC website.
Despite this clear connection to terrorism, the SPLC refused to admit fault and refused to remove the FRC from their “hate” list.
Ironically, one year earlier, the leftist group had pushed the spurious claim that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was responsible for the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), because Palin’s political action committee published maps with Democratic districts in crosshairs. PolitiFact rated this ridiculous claim “false.”
This year, the SPLC was connected to a second terror attack — the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.). The shooter, Bernie Sanders supporter James Hodgkinson, “liked” the SPLC on Facebook. The SPLC had repeatedly attacked Scalise for a speech he gave to a white supremacist group, even after Scalise apologized and condemned the group (and was called a “sellout” by former KKK leader David Duke).
The SPLC has attacked far more people than just the SPLC and Scalise, however, and all sorts of attacks have been unleashed on other Christian groups listed as “hateful.”
At the end of August, Vanco Payments withdrew its service from the Ruth Institute, taking away that organization’s ability to process donations online. In listing the Ruth Institute as a “hate group,” the SPLC actually quoted from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, prompting questions as to whether or not it would have to mark the largest Christian denomination on Earth a “hate group.”
In June, the charity navigation website GuideStar adopted the SPLC “hate group” list, marking each profile of the targeted organizations as a “hate group.” This action inspired the first of three lawsuits against the SPLC, launched by the Christian nonprofit Liberty Counsel.
In December, D. James Kennedy Ministries was denied access to Amazon’s charity connection service, Amazon Smile, because it was listed as a “hate group” by the SPLC. They also filed a lawsuit against the SPLC for defamation.
The leftist group has admitted that qualifications for inclusion on the “hate list” are “strictly ideological.” SPLC leaders have also declared that their intention is to “destroy these groups completely.”
Last month, 47 nonprofit leaders signed a letter denouncing the SPLC, warning that the “hate list” is not reliable.
“Anyone who opposes them, including many Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and traditional conservatives is slandered and slapped with the ‘extremist’ label or even worse, their ‘hate group’ designation,” the leaders wrote. “At one point, the SPLC even added Dr. Ben Carson to its ‘extremist’ list because of his biblical views (and only took him off the list after public outcry).”
Other recent examples also back up the argument that the SPLC is carless in its alleged defamation. This very week, the group removed Stonewall Elementary School from its list of Confederate monuments, which it warned would cause “turmoil and bloodshed.” The school was named after a literal stone wall nearby, not after Stonewall Jackson.
In August, the group removed the innocent historic town of Amana Colonies from its “hate map.” While the SPLC eventually removed Amana Colonies, it first defended the “hate” label because a white supremacist website claimed to have had a book club in one of the town’s restaurants.
In a series of three videos, the anti-terror group Quilliam International revealed the SPLC’s ever-changing reasons for listing Muslim Maajid Nawaz as an “anti-Muslim extremist.” One of the reasons the SPLC gave for targeting Nawaz? His visit to a strip club for his bachelor party. Nawaz is the third person suing the SPLC for defamation.
In his speech to the Values Voter Summit, President Trump championed the Judeo-Christian values at the center of America. “George Washington said that ‘religion and morality are indispensable’ to America’s happiness, really, prosperity and totally to its success. It is our faith and our values that inspires us to give with charity, to act with courage, and to sacrifice for what we know is right,” the president declared.
His speech emphasized the love and charity Americans have displayed in responding to the Las Vegas shooting; the hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico; and the fires in California.
Trump’s discussion of the shooting proved particularly memorable. “In the wake of such horror, we also witnessed the true character of our nation,” he said. “A mother laid on top of her daughter to shield her from gunfire. A husband died to protect his beloved wife. Strangers rescued strangers, police officers — and you saw that, all of those incredible police officers, how brave they were, how great they were running into fire.”
The president emphasized love, charity, and sacrifice, tying them to the Christian faith at the center of organizations like the Family Research Council.
By contrast, the SPLC compared conservative Christians like Ted Cruz to the Islamic State, arguing that Cruz and Trump represent a movement to turn America into a theocratic society. Black former Vanderbilt professor Carol Swain told PJ Media just how wrong these arguments are.
“We’ve reached a point where Christians are being persecuted,” Swain said. “Organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center have labeled Christians haters because they’re trying to follow the teachings of their religion.” In response, conservative Christians “go into organizations and make it so that we’re not oppressed for living by our faith.”
Unlike the SPLC, FRC has never been connected to a terrorist attack. If any organization is to be compared to the KKK, perhaps it should be the one labeling Christian groups “hate groups” merely for following the dictates of their conscience.