Citing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the National Center for Life and Liberty of the D. James Kennedy Ministries (DJKM) filed suit against the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on Tuesday for “trafficking in false or misleading descriptions of the services offered under the ministry’s trademarked name; and for defamation pursuant to Alabama common law arising from the publication and distribution of information that libels the ministry’s reputation and subjects the ministry to disgrace, ridicule, odium, and contempt in the estimation of the public.”
Frank Wright, the CEO of the ministries, explained why it is suing the SPLC:
We embarked today on a journey to right a terrible wrong. Those who knowingly label Christian ministries as “hate” groups solely for subscribing to the historic Christian faith, are either woefully uninformed or willfully deceitful.
In the case of the Southern Poverty Law Center, our lawsuit alleges the latter.
At issue is the SPLC’s inclusion of Wright’s ministries in its “hate” map along with the KKK and various Nazi groups. Thanks to the unblinking and uncritical acceptance of that “hate map” as legitimate by various members of the media, it has damaged the ministries. That’s why included in the lawsuit is Amazon and the charity guidance group GuideStar. Each has taken SPLC’s designation of DLKM seriously and blocked it from listing it at AmazonSmile and removed it from Guidestar’s list of approved ministries.
These false and illegal characterizations have a chilling effect on the free exercise of religion and on religious speech for all people of faith. After having given the SPLC an opportunity to retract, we have undertaken legal action, seeking a trial by a jury of our peers, to preserve our own rights under the law and to defend the religious free speech rights of all Americans.
Wright expressed his frustration with the SPLC’s designation and the uncritical acceptance of it by people who should know better. This has nothing to do with “hate,” said Wright:
This is about everything that stands in opposition to the hard left liberal agenda. If you favor sanctity of human life, you’re a hater. [If you’re opposed to illegal] immigration, you’re a hater. [If you’re in] favor of immigration reform, [you’re a hater].
The one thing that, quite frankly, is infuriating is that apparently you can fly fuel-laden airplanes into tall buildings and not be considered a hater [by the SPLC]. You can make Christians kneel on the beach and slice their heads off and not be a hater.
But if you say anything against the violence of Islam, [you’re a hater].
The lawsuit states, “It is the SPLC’s intent that the people who receive the information that SPLC publishes about the ministry will rely on SPLC’s information as fact and will base their charitable giving decisions on that information.” The lawsuit includes GuideStar for “knowingly accept[ing] defamatory information from the SPLC regarding the ministry and knowingly, intentionally, and purposefully republish[ing] that defamatory information with the intent that the people who receive the republished SPLC information from GuideStar will rely on that information as fact for the purpose of making their charitable giving decisions.”
Although the instant cause of SPLC’s inclusion of DJKM in its “hate” map is due to its position on LGBT issues, the matter reflects a much greater issue: the First Amendment right to worship as citizens see fit. From the lawsuit:
Because the ministry’s position on ‘LGBT’ issues is inextricably intertwined and connected to the ministry’s religious theology, and because SPLC and GuideStar have declared the ministry to be a hate group due to the ministry’s stand on LGBT issues, what occurred here is that SPLC and GuideStar have discriminated against the ministry because of its theology and its religious beliefs.
It’s even deeper than that, according to Judge Roy Moore. Moore was recently interviewed by Jerry Newcombe of DJKM, and Moore made it clear what the foundational issue really is:
The Southern Poverty Law Center has had Ben Carson on their hate list. They’ve had Tony Perkins [of the Family Research Council] on their hate list.
The truth is: they’re the ones that hate. They hate God, and they hate the acknowledgement of God.
Image: Screenshot of an SPLC advertisement