Over 40 pro-family groups recently signed a letter to the charity database site GuideStar after it labeled dozens of organizations as “hate groups” based on a list compiled by the controversial Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
“The ‘hate group’ list is nothing more than a political weapon targeting people it deems to be its political enemies. The list is ad hoc, partisan, and agenda-driven,” the correspondence read.
GuideStar added a banner atop the info pages of 46 nonprofits, which reads, “This organization was flagged as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.”
Among those tagged as “hate groups” include Family Research Council, the American Family Association, Liberty Counsel, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, the Immigration Reform Law Institute, the Jewish Institute for Global Awareness and the American College of Pediatricians.
Guidestar CEO, Jacob Harold, told the Associated Press that the company decided to add the warnings as a response to the increase of “hateful rhetoric” among Americans. He said that the organization decided to utilize SPLC’s list and trust their determinations.
“[W]e are making a judgment to trust that third party,” Harold outlined. “We feel that’s quite defensible.”
However, he said that the company was also considering moving the warning to a not-so-prominent location on each page, as GuideStar can’t personally state with certainty that every organization labeled is indeed motivated by hate.
Those included on SPLC’s list state that the designation is defamatory.
“The SPLC’s primary goal is to achieve the political submission of its opponents, but its practice of sustained demonization in one’s community—which is what a ‘hate map’ is all about—inflames passions of hatred and animus against its targets,” Wednesday’s letter read.
It noted that SPLC’s hate map had been cited in 2012 when gunman Floyd Corkins went to Family Research Council’s headquarters with the intent to kill. Corkins was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
“In 2012, a shooter entered the Family Research Council headquarters in Washington, D.C., to ‘kill as many as possible’ because SPLC had identified FRC as a ‘hate group,’ and the killer-to-be relied on SPLC’s website to identify targets, according to his sworn testimony,” the correspondence outlined.
“The SPLC continues to list on its website people such as House Majority Whip Steve Scalise who was recently shot by James T. Hodgkinson who ‘liked’ SPLC’s Facebook page,” it continued. “Does it not concern you that within the past five years, the SPLC has been linked to gunmen who carried out two terrorist shootings in the DC area?”
GuideStar now says that it will remove the labels, but only out of its claim that staff had received threats from those upset about the designations.
“Dismayingly, a significant amount of the feedback we’ve received in recent days has shifted from constructive criticism to harassment and threats directed at our staff and leadership,” it remarked in a statement. “We acknowledge there is a deep, nuanced conversation to be had with Americans of all political, cultural, and religious backgrounds regarding how we address—and identify—hate groups.”
The banners are expected to be removed this week, although GuideStar says it will still provide the information if there is an inquiry.
“If anyone’s guilty of hate, it’s the organization defining it!” said FRC’s Tony Perkins in a blog post on the matter. “SPLC’s own Mark Potok made no bones about the group’s ultimate agenda, saying, ‘Sometimes the press will describe us as monitoring hate crimes and so on. … I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups, to completely destroy them.'”
“And they think Christians are the threat?” he asked. “What’s worse, SPLC is quite open about the fact that their labels are completely arbitrary [as the group once said], ‘Our criteria for a ‘hate group,’ first of all, have nothing to do with criminality or violence… It’s strictly ideological.'”