SPLC Gets Conservative Crowdfunding Site Shut Down
On Wednesday, the conservative biblical crowdfunding site Funding Morality will shut down, thanks to the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The crowdfunding site raised money for pro-life causes and some of its more prominent cases included the support for Mark Judge, Brett Kavanaugh's high school friend, and Father Paul John Kalchik, a priest forced into hiding after burning an LGBT cross flag. A judge instituted a $3.2 million fine and ordered the website and its parent nonprofit to shut down, finding it had violated a previous order in 2015. That claim is inaccurate, according to the website's co-founder.
In 2015, the court ordered that Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) must shut down, because it allegedly violated consumer fraud laws by promising that men and women who suffer from unwanted same-sex attraction may overcome their orientation through therapy. Arthur Goldberg, JONAH's co-founder with Elaine Berk, told PJ Media that JONAH never promised clients it could change their sexual orientation. In fact, before JONAH referred clients to therapists, the clients signed affidavits noting that no guarantee to success was provided.
Even so, the SPLC filed the first-of-its-kind lawsuit to get JONAH shut down, and a court order shut down the organization in 2015. The SPLC later claimed that Goldberg continued JONAH's activities through a new organization, the Jewish Institute for Global Awareness (JIFGA). Goldberg set the record straight on this.
"JIFGA’s purpose was to be a religious and educational arm to explain the seven Noahide laws," he told PJ Media. The seven laws, delivered from God to Noah, are considered the backbone of universal morality, supported by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. They involve prohibitions against idolatry, blasphemy, murder, theft, sexual immorality, and removing meat from a live animal. The final law is a requirement to establish a system of justice.
"Funding Morality was a project of JIFGA, a crowdfunding site for people who follow biblical values. Given the problems today with the internet, where religious items or things that may not be considered politically correct are knocked off so many different websites, we started this so there would be an outlet for people who are faith-based," the co-founder told PJ Media.
Indeed, the largest crowdfunding website GoFundMe has exiled some conservatives seeking donations, including a fundraiser to defend the South Bend, Ind., cop who recently fatally shot Erik Logan, creating a crisis for 2020 Democrat Pete Buttigieg. GoFundMe did not just cancel that fundraiser — it accused the fundraiser of supporting a "hate crime." GoFundMe also canceled a fundraiser by JihadWatch founder Robert Spencer. The SPLC has falsely accused JihadWatch of being an "anti-Muslim hate group."
Among Funding Morality's many projects, Goldberg recalled having "several pro-life projects," in addition to the fundraisers for Mark Judge and Father Kalchik.
"Because of the Kavanaugh hearings, Mark Judge lost his apartment, his job, and had legal fees to pay," Goldberg said. Nowadays, "he’s still in the process of getting his life back together. I sometimes refer to him as unintended roadkill." In the case of Father Kalchik, "GoFundMe knocked him off and Church Militant approached us."
As Church Militant reported, other fundraising projects focused on providing pro-life seminars for black American pastors, supporting a Catholic seminarian, a consecrated religion and persecuted priests such as Fr. Jeff Windy and Fr. Paul Kalchik. One crowdfunding push aimed to overcome the stigma Christian street cleaners in Pakistan experience in daily life.
Two new campaigns aimed to provide funding for pro-life research that did not receive university funding. One project involved searching for a surgical technique to transfer an embryo/fetus in the case of an ectopic pregnancy. Another attempted to complete a detailed study of the potential physical and behavioral consequences of abortion.
Funding Morality helped users donate "several hundred thousand" dollars to these and other causes in the aggregate, Goldberg told PJ Media. By getting Funding Morality shut down, the SPLC effectively defunded conservative and biblical projects that have few options.
"They’re proud of it. That’s my impression. It appears they’re very proud of the fact they got it shut down," Goldberg said.
Indeed, when the order came down in June, the SPLC published a blog post entitled, "Judge orders ‘conversion therapy’ provider to permanently cease operations once again."
"The court previously had ordered JONAH to shut its doors and stop promoting conversion therapy because a jury found that its program was fraudulent and unconscionable – in violation of New Jersey’s consumer fraud law," the post quoted SPLC Deputy Legal Director David Dinielli as saying. "The ruling this week – concluding that defendants have violated that court order – confirms that the court meant what it said.
"Conversion therapy necessarily is fraudulent because it is based on the lie that LGBTQ people can and should be fixed. Along with our clients and other allies, we will not stop until we eradicate these dangerous practices in New Jersey and around the country," he concluded.
Goldberg objected to the term the SPLC used to demonize JONAH's therapy referrals. "Conversion therapy is not even a term of art. It’s a misnomer. It’s a pejorative term that talks about emotional trauma and physical trauma," he told PJ Media. JONAH did not recommend or carry out so-called "conversion therapy." It gave people "references for therapy for underlying issues which may result in same-sex attraction."
As ex-gay leader Christopher Doyle explains in his book The War on Psychotherapy, "One of the strategies that far-left advocacy and gay activist organizations use to smear professional psychotherapists assisting clients distressed by sexual and gender identity conflicts is to intentionally conflate professional therapy with religious practice and/or unlicensed, unregulated counseling. They do this by labeling all efforts—therapeutic, religious, or otherwise—to help clients distressed by sexual and gender identity conflicts [as] ‘conversion therapy.'"
The SPLC dismisses the idea that troubled men and women who suffer from unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion can overcome their unwanted desires and identities. Goldberg told PJ Media he has met "hundreds and hundreds of former homosexuals," but the SPLC denies "the existence of such a thing" in order to "invalidate" its critics.
Unfortunately, the court and the jury ignored testimony that JONAH clients signed a disclaimer that JONAH made no promises about overcoming unwanted attractions. "Each plaintiff signed documents, submitted into evidence, that no guarantees as to success were provided by defendants. Nevertheless, these were ignored by the Court and the Jury," Doyle explains in the book.
As for the claims that JIFGA represented a resurrected version of JONAH, Goldberg insisted that was "totally false."
"The mission is different, the purposes are different, the functions were different," the co-founder said. He noted, for example, that JONAH used to have Sabbath weekend gatherings for guys struggling with same-sex attraction, but JIFGA never did anything like that.
JONAH gave "almost daily referrals to people who said, 'I need help.'" JIFGA, on the other hand, referred a few people to therapists for other types of counseling. "It had nothing to do with SSA," Goldberg explained.
Yet Goldberg summarized the SPLC's argument as "anything is and must be related to gays."
Thanks to the SPLC's deceptive arguments, a conservative crowdfunding website is shutting down, along with one Jewish therapy referral agency and a Jewish nonprofit group advocating basic moral standards.
Goldberg told PJ Media he will appeal the decision and keep fighting.
Follow Tyler O'Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.