News & Politics

SPLC Uses Anniversary of Islamic Terror Attack to Demonize Conservative Christians

FILE - In this July 11, 2016, file photo, a makeshift memorial continues to grow outside the Pulse nightclub, the day before the one month anniversary of a mass shooting, in Orlando, Fla. Survivors and victims’ relatives are marking the second anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting with a remembrance ceremony, a run, art exhibits and litigation. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

Four years ago yesterday, a radical Islamic terrorist opened fire in Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others. He pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) during the attack, and ISIS later claimed responsibility. Yet, because Pulse is a gay bar, leftists have memory-holed the terrorist’s intentions and blamed “anti-LGBT hate” for the heinous attack. On Friday, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) used the anniversary of the shooting to demonize conservative Christians and the Trump administration.

“The Pulse murders occurred during Pride Month in a nightclub that acted as a haven for LGBTQ people in Orlando to celebrate their whole selves. Anti-LGBTQ hate groups and some members of the radical right, in a sickening display of bigotry, praised the gunman after the attack,” the SPLC’s Lecia Brooks wrote in a post commemorating the anniversary.

“It’s clear that the LGBTQ community remains under threat — the 2019 SPLC Year in Hate and Extremism report showed a nearly 43% spike in anti-LGBTQ hate groups. Groups that vilify the LGBTQ community, the report found, represented the fastest-growing sector among hate groups in 2019, rising from 49 in 2018 to 70 the following year,” Brooks added. “LGBTQ hate even has a home in the halls of the White House: The Trump administration has welcomed members of these hate groups who have designed new, oppressive policies.”

So, who are these nefarious “hate groups” who would celebrate radical Islamic terrorism and yet somehow weaseled their way into the Trump White House, which is — shall we say — not the biggest hub for radical Islam?

Well, the SPLC’s “anti-LGBTQ hate group” category is rather elastic, by design. The SPLC, which grew to prominence by suing the Ku Klux Klan and related racist hate groups into bankruptcy, has weaponized that history to defame its political opponents by accusing them of being “hate groups” like the KKK. It has a financial incentive to do so — SPLC co-founder Morris Dees discovered that “reporting on” “hate” is a fabulous fundraising tool. In fact, former SPLC employees have explained that much of the “hate” tracking is a scam, as the SPLC exaggerates the threat of mostly defunct “hate groups” in order to bilk donors.

“Anti-LGBTQ hate groups” include mainstream Christian law firms like Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which has won nine cases at the Supreme Court since 2011. The SPLC’s category includes the Ruth Institute, a Roman Catholic nonprofit dedicated to helping the victims of the Sexual Revolution. Upon accusing the Ruth Institute of being a “hate group,” the SPLC seized on RI’s statement that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,” which is a direct quote from the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church. Yet the SPLC has not marked the Catholic Church a “hate group…”

The SPLC’s list of “anti-LGBTQ hate groups” also includes the Family Research Council (FRC), a conservative Christian nonprofit in Washington, D.C. In 2012, a deranged man opened fire at FRC, aiming to kill everyone in the building and place a Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich by each person’s head. His attack was foiled, but he got the idea to target FRC due to the SPLC’s list of “anti-LGBTQ hate groups.”

SPLC ‘Hate’ Report Takes Aim at Donald Trump Ahead of 2020 Election

When the SPLC demonizes the Trump administration for working with “anti-LGBTQ hate groups,” it is often referring to ADF and FRC. Trump has spoken at FRC’s annual conference and he has nominated former ADF employees to serve as judges or in his administration. He has also reversed former President Barack Obama’s subversion of basic biology by reaffirming the reality of biological sex over transgender identity in various forms of law.

When the SPLC demonizes the Trump administration for “hate,” the far-left group is using guilt-by-association to suggest that the president is inciting violence, based on the fact that Trump has championed commonsense policies with which the leftist activists disagree.

So, is it true that “anti-LGBTQ hate groups … praised the gunman after the attack?”

No one at ADF, FRC, or RI praised the radical Islamic terrorist.

Shortly after the attack, however, Donnie Romero, then pastor of the Stedfast Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, praised the terrorist.

“These 50 sodomites are all perverts and pedophiles, they’re the scum of the Earth and the Earth is a better place now and I’ll take it a step further,” Romero said in a sermon published online by the Dallas Morning News. “I’ll pray to God like I did this morning, and I will again tonight, that God will finish the job that that man started.”

The SPLC responded by including Stedfast Baptist Church on its list of “anti-LGBT hate groups.” In this one instance, the “hate group” accusation may be true.

No Christian should spout this kind of horrific vitriol. To claim that a mass shooting leaves the world a “better place” is, quite simply, beyond the pale.

But notice the SPLC’s sleight of hand in all of this. The SPLC had not previously accused Stedfast Baptist Church of being a “hate group.” It leveled that accusation after Romero’s disgusting “sermon.” None of the mainstream conservative Christian organizations the SPLC demonizes as “anti-LGBTQ hate groups” praised the shooter, and Trump certainly did not.

Furthermore, Brook’s statement about the Pulse nightclub shooting did not once mention the true motivations of the shooter. As it turns out, the gay bar wasn’t the terrorist’s intended target — Disney World was, and he didn’t even search for “gay nightclubs,” but merely for “nightclubs.” He pledged allegiance to ISIS during the attack, and ISIS claimed responsibility for it afterward.

Yet the SPLC has completely ignored the true motivation behind this radical Islamic terrorism. In fact, the SPLC routinely brands people who warn against radical Islam “anti-Muslim hate groups” or “anti-Islamic extremists.” One such “extremist,” Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz, sued the SPLC for defamation and won $3.375 million. The SPLC routinely works with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which has troubling ties to Hamas.

The SPLC should stop distracting from the radical Islam behind the attack, or at least acknowledge that was the true motivation behind this heinous evil.

Even worse for the SPLC’s narrative, Chick-fil-A — often demonized as a force of “anti-LGBT hate” — fired up the grill on a Sunday to serve free chicken to people as they gave blood to help the victims. Conservative Christians do not “hate” LGBT people, even though we disagree with their alternative sexual morality.

The Pulse Nightclub shooting was a horrific terrorist attack, and Americans should remember it. But we should remember it as it actually was, rejecting the SPLC’s twisted interpretation.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

5 Reasons the SPLC Is Profoundly Wrong About Two Notorious Christian ‘Hate Groups’
Will the Southern Poverty Law Center Brand the Roman Catholic Church a ‘Hate Group’?
The SPLC’s Fall From Grace: How a Civil Rights Group Became a Threat to Free Speech