This week, 25 donor networks worth more than $1 billion launched the “Hate Is Not Charitable” campaign, to cut off funds from organizations marked as “hate groups” by the far-left smear factory the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Behind the campaign’s catchy title lies a humongous problem: the SPLC routinely demonizes mainstream conservative and Christian groups as “hate groups,” listing them with the Ku Klux Klan.
Amalgamated Bank, whose charitable foundation spearheaded the effort, did not respond to multiple requests for comment from PJ Media. PJM attempted to ask why the 25 donor networks trust the discredited smear factory, especially given its recent decision to fire its co-founder amid claims of sexual harassment and racial discrimination. A former employee took to the New Yorker to call the organization “a highly profitable scam.”
“It’s irresponsible for the Amalgamated Foundation to copy and paste SPLC’s propaganda about peaceful, mainstream Christian groups in a misguided campaign to attack their funding,” Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel and vice president of U.S. advocacy at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), told PJ Media.
“It is appalling and offensive to compare peaceful Christian organizations like Alliance Defending Freedom with violent and racist groups,” Tedesco explained. “The Southern Poverty Law Center attacks on ADF are false and mischaracterize our work. But that’s exactly what the SPLC does.”
Indeed, the SPLC has marked ADF an “anti-LGBT hate group.” This nonsense overlooks the Christian law firm’s excellent track record — it won nine Supreme Court cases since 2011, earning first place on Empirical SCOTUS’s “top performing firms” for First Amendment cases.
Tedesco also quoted two ADF opponents who criticized the SPLC’s ridiculous “hate group” smear. Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), affirmed that ADF lawyers have “integrity, compassion, character, empathy, honor, and concern for their fellow humans.” Nadine Strossen, a former president of the ACLU, wrote, “an organization whose work I admire and support, the Southern Poverty Law Center, has labeled ADF a ‘hate group.’ I respectfully dissent.”
“The SPLC treats Christian organizations the same as abhorrent groups like the KKK and the America Nazi Party just because we promote millennia-old beliefs about marriage and human sexuality that are shared by millions of people of many faiths and of no faith at all. That lack of moral clarity should concern us all,” the ADF lawyer declared.
Tedesco noted the Dees firing, saying, “this discredited organization is embroiled in a controversy of its own making.” In addition to firing its co-founder, “the SPLC also faces multiple lawsuits over the false information it spreads to shut down those with whom they disagree. The SPLC even recently paid $3.375 million to settle a threatened defamation lawsuit by Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz, whom it falsely labeled an anti-Muslim extremist. That slander put Mr. Nawaz’s life in danger.” The SPLC “hate group” labels also inspired a terrorist attack in Washington, D.C. in 2012.
“For these and many other reasons, investigative journalists, charity watchdogs, and commentators have been raising the alarm for years that SPLC is activist, partisan, and unreliable,” he explained. “It’s time for Amalgamated, the media, major corporations, and social media companies to cut ties with the SPLC. They’ve lost what little moral authority they ever had and have devolved into nothing more than a partisan progressive hit operation.”
Indeed, the SPLC faces multiple lawsuits, including a defamation suit from D. James Kennedy Ministries (DJKM). John Rabe, DJKM’s director of creative production, called the SPLC “a deeply discredited organization that is clearly grinding a far-left-wing ax.”
“We have a federal lawsuit pending against the SPLC because of its false and defamatory claims about us. It has similarly smeared numerous other Bible-believing organizations that are simply upholding the unanimous (and unambiguous) historical position of the Christian church on issues of marriage, sexuality, and gender,” he said.
Noting the Dees firing, Rabe added, “As Jesus said, ‘every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit’ (Matthew 7:17) and ‘each tree is known by its own fruit (Luke 6:44).'”
He quoted former SPLC employees calling the group “a virtual buffet of injustices,” and recalling, “we’d cast a glance at the inscription from Martin Luther King, Jr., etched into the black marble [on the SPLC building]—‘Until justice rolls down like waters’—and intone, in our deepest voices, ‘Until justice rolls down like dollars.’”
“It seems rather short-sighted and bigoted—not to mention being a terrible business decision—to alienate tens of millions of believing Christians based upon the recommendations of the hucksters at the Southern Poverty Law Center,” Rabe concluded. “And it is dismaying to see a major bank furthering the false claims of the SPLC.”
He pressed, “Are those who believe the historic, biblical teachings of Christianity not welcome at Amalgamated Bank? It is difficult to avoid any other conclusion.”
Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Roman Catholic nonprofit the Ruth Institute, called the donor network’s effort “pathetic.”
“The SPLC cannot convince people outside the Left-wing echo chamber that their ratings have any validity whatsoever. So they turn to their friends on the upper floors of the banking industry to impose their peculiar definition of ‘hate’ on everyone else,” Morse told PJ Media. “They are admitting their intellectual case is a house of cards. All they have left is raw muscle.”
“I hope people see through this power grab, and keep donating to these fine groups, matter what these Board-Room Bullies end up doing,” she concluded.
The Ruth Institute, which Morse described as “a non-profit that equips Christians to defend the family and build a Civilization of Love,” received the SPLC “hate group” label because it quoted the Catechism of the Catholic Church on sexuality. If the SPLC were to be consistent, it would have to brand the Catholic Church, an institution with one billion members, a “hate group.”
Not every group slammed by the SPLC is Christian, however. ACT for America, a conservative nonprofit that fights radical Islamic terrorism, has faced multiple attacks in the past month, all of which trace back to the far-left smear factory.
“The idea that a campaign would rely solely on a discredited and unethical organization like the SPLC for their research speaks volumes about the lack of credibility and ethics of those leading the campaign,” Thomas Hern, grassroots director for ACT for America, told PJ Media.
Again, Amalgamated Bank did not respond to multiple requests for comment by press time. The “Hate Is Not Charitable” campaign cited a series from the website Sludge. That series also slammed the National Christian Foundation (NCF) for donating $56.1 million to conservative and Christian “hate groups.”
When Newsweek asked about the donations, NCF spokesman Steve Chapman said, “NCF is a national network of givers who are working to further the generosity movement in the areas they care about the most. Like other donor-advised fund sponsors, NCF helps thousands of generous people give to the charitable causes they care about, and we help them do so in the most efficient and effective manner possible.”
“In 2018, we sent $1.7 billion in grants to more than 26,000 charities who are bringing clean water to the thirsty, homes to the homeless, food to the hungry, healing to the hurting, and much more,” Chapman added. “We are solely focused on helping people give generously and wisely to their favorite charities.”
NCF, ADF, DJKM, the Ruth Institute, and ACT for America are carrying out charitable work, and the SPLC is wrong to smear them as “hate groups” or supporters of “hate groups.” The SPLC faces at least four direct defamation and wire fraud lawsuits, with the potential for many more.
Given the firing of Morris Dees and the complaints coming out of the woodwork, it seems likely the SPLC will continue to unravel, and at least one of these lawsuits will strike home the way Maajid Nawaz’s lawsuit did. It is high time the SPLC changed its ways, and groups like Amalgamated Bank should be ashamed of taking its falsehoods as gospel truth.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.