On Friday, the global video platform Vimeo banned a Christian non-profit group, citing the far-left smear factory the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The SPLC had accused the American Family Association (AFA) of being a “hate group,” placing it on a list with notorious white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan. According to the SPLC, AFA is an “anti-LGBT hate group” largely because it espouses traditional Christian doctrine on marriage and sexuality.
“Vimeo has essentially characterized the Christian faith as ‘hateful’ because the Bible teaches that sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is sinful. Yes, that includes homosexual activity,” Ed Vitagliano, AFA’s executive vice president, told PJ Media in a statement. “This has been Christian teaching for 2,000 years. Vimeo’s religious bigotry is appalling, and we reject the company’s heavy-handed censorship.”
Vimeo told AFA the Christian group cannot have an account on its website “if you are a member of a terror or hate group,” AFA President Tim Wildmon explained in a note to members on Friday. AFA protested that it was neither a terrorist group nor a hate group, but Vimeo responded with a letter citing the SPLC.
As I explain in my book Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the SPLC began as a noble civil rights organization, getting innocent people off of death row, but co-founder Morris Dees changed the organization, pivoting toward bankrupting the Ku Klux Klan. This strategy brought in the big bucks, and the SPLC easily defeated true hate groups in court.
After bankrupting the KKK and similar hate groups, the SPLC began to look for fresh fields to conquer. It began to accuse more mainstream conservative and Christian organizations of being “hate groups” like the KKK. The SPLC also exaggerated the threat of lone individuals, defunct organizations, and sad blogs by calling them “hate groups” and using them to pad the numbers to keep raising money.
Last year, former employees came clean about being “part of the con,” exaggerating “hate” to bilk donors. Dees was fired and other SPLC leaders stepped down amid a racism and sexism scandal. The organization has yet to release the results of an “internal review” it promised last March.
Even some prominent liberal leaders have criticized the SPLC for branding the Christian nonprofit law firm Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) a hate group. The SPLC’s “hate map” inspired one deranged man to break into the Family Research Council, intending to kill everyone in the building. Luckily, his attack was foiled and he was convicted on terrorism charges. The SPLC faces defamation lawsuits due to its “hate group” attacks, and it has paid millions in damages after branding a Muslim reformer an “anti-Islamic extremist.”
Despite all this, legacy media outlets, Big Tech, Corporate America, and Democrats widely cite the SPLC as the gold standard when it comes to identifying “hate groups.” Amazon has excluded SPLC-accused “hate groups” from its charity platform. Apple has partnered with the SPLC in fighting “hate.” Hyatt Hotels has blacklisted SPLC-accused “hate groups,” as has the event-hosting platform Eventbrite. Last year, The New York Times, the Miami Herald, and the Tampa Bay Times repeated SPLC talking points and successfully pressured Mar-a-Lago to cancel a gala with the conservative group ACT for America.
In January, an SPLC staffer testified before Congress, urging Big Tech and the government to blacklist and silence “hate groups” in an effort to combat white supremacist terrorism. It appears Vimeo listened. Vimeo did not respond to PJ Media’s request for comment.
Vimeo is not a small platform. A competitor to YouTube, the video platform has 170 million monthly viewers, 90 million registered members, and 715 million monthly views. Vimeo’s selling point is an ad-free experience.
While YouTube considers the SPLC a “trusted flagger,” it has not yet banned organizations outright just because the SPLC accuses them of being “hate groups.”
AFA may go too far in saying that Vimeo has declared Christianity itself “hateful” by blacklisting AFA, but the SPLC has come remarkably close to just such a declaration. The SPLC swears up and down that merely defining marriage as between one man and one woman does not make an organization a “hate group” in its view. Yet this is a particularly flimsy denial. When the SPLC condemned the small Catholic non-profit the Ruth Institute as a “hate group,” it cited as evidence a sentence that was taken directly from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The SPLC has indeed targeted organizations that hold to a traditional biblical definition of sexuality — that all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is sinful and that males cannot become females and vice versa — for the “hate group” label, a label that carries particular weight due to the SPLC’s history with the KKK.
Whatever the SPLC claims, its “hate” accusations really do target conservative Christians for their beliefs on sexuality.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.