News & Politics

SPLC Uses Anniversary of Islamic Terror Attack to Demonize Conservative Christians

(AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

Five years ago on Saturday, 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 Saturday, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) used the anniversary of the shooting to demonize conservative Christians and efforts to restrain the excesses of the transgender movement.

In a fundraising email, the SPLC noted the horrific attack, saying, “Today, we remember those we lost. We grieve for their families and friends. And, we honor them by keeping up the fight against anti-LGBTQ hate.”

“In a sickening display of bigotry, several anti-LGBTQ hate groups and some members of the radical right praised the gunman after the Pulse attack five years ago. This year’s unprecedented legislative attacks on transgender people revealed that, unfortunately, anti-LGBTQ hate is still alive in state legislatures across the country,” the SPLC argued.

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The activist group bemoaned the fact that “an explosion of hateful, anti-trans legislation has threatened to make an increasing number of public spaces unsafe for transgender people. On the first day of Pride Month, Florida became the eighth state to target trans athletes with a sports ban.”

“Nationally, at least 17 bills targeting LGBTQ people have been passed already this year, out of over 125 that were proposed in state legislatures. The majority of these bills seek to prevent trans children from accessing lifesaving gender affirming care, ban trans people from using public restrooms or stop them from participating in sports,” the SPLC added.

The email concluded with a rallying cry, urging supporters to speak “up against misgendering, harmful disinformation and discriminatory legislation. That’s how we will continue to grow a national movement against anti-LGBTQ hate.”

So, was the Pulse Nightclub shooting an act of “anti-LGBTQ hate”? The shooter did kill members of the LGBT community, but evidence suggests that his victims’ sexual identities had nothing to do with the shooting.

As it turns out, the gay bar wasn’t the terrorist’s intended target — Disney World was, and he didn’t even search online for “gay nightclubs,” but merely for “nightclubs.” He pledged allegiance to ISIS during the attack, and ISIS claimed responsibility for it afterward. The SPLC did not once mention ISIS, radical Islam, or even the Islamic world’s horrendous recent history of violence against LGBT people.

Instead, the SPLC repeated a claim it has made many times in the past: that “several anti-LGBTQ hate groups” had “praised the gunman.”

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Is this true?

First, 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. As I explain in my book Making Hate Pay, SPLC co-founder Morris Dees discovered that “reporting on” “hate” is a fabulous fundraising tool. 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 from the SPLC’s list of “anti-LGBTQ hate groups.”

Yet no one at ADF, FRC, or RI praised the radical Islamic terrorist who carried out the horrific Pulse shooting.

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

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“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.

By claiming that “anti-LGBTQ hate groups… praised the shooter,” the SPLC suggests that many of the organizations it demonizes as “hate groups” celebrated the violence. Therefore, donors should pony up cash to support the SPLC’s vital efforts to stop this “hate.”

In reality, most of the conservative Christians the SPLC demonizes condemned the Pulse Nightclub terror attack. Conservative Christians do not celebrate radical Islamic terrorism.

Furthermore, there is absolutely no connection between the Pulse Nightclub Islamic terror attack and the new bills across the country that aim to prevent biological males from competing against females, to safeguard children from experimental “transgender” treatments, or to protect women’s privacy in intimate settings. “Anti-LGBTQ hate” does not drive this legislation, commonsense does.

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This is far from the first time the SPLC has attempted to weaponize the Pulse attack to demonize conservative Christians, and it likely won’t be the last. Americans must see through this deception. We should remember the Pulse nightclub shooting and lament the victims of this horrific radical Islamic terror attack. But we cannot allow nefarious actors on the Left to get away with blaming their political opponents for it.