Alliance Defending Freedom has successfully litigated some of the most high profile religious liberty cases
I have written often, and recently, about the corrosive effect of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s highly-politicized “hate” and “extremist” lists.
Politico also recently focused on the problem, which I described in Southern Poverty Law Center “extremist” lists used “to silence speech and speakers”, including this quote from the Politico article:
William Jacobson, a law professor at Cornell and critic of the SPLC, says the group has wrapped itself in the mantle of the civil rights struggle to engage in partisan political crusading. “Time and again, I see the SPLC using the reputation it gained decades ago fighting the Klan as a tool to bludgeon mainstream politically conservative opponents,” he says. “For groups that do not threaten violence, the use of SPLC ‘hate group’ or ‘extremist’ designations frequently are exploited as an excuse to silence speech and speakers,” Jacobson adds. “It taints not only the group or person, but others who associate with them.”
The following additional part of my interview was left on the cutting room floor:
While there may be other groups who compose lists of alleged hate groups, SPLC is by far the most prominent. Unfortunately, very often who gets placed on an SPLC hate list is very subjective and done from the perspective of SPLC’s liberal and Democratic leanings. For example. Dr. Ben Carson was once on the “extremist” list, but only was removed after my website called attention to it. Dr. Rand Paul also was once on an SPLC “extremist” list. That SPLC would put such mainstream conservatives and libertarians on its hate lists, but not similarly situated liberal or Democratic politicians, demonstrates an ideological bias.
Similarly, SPLC continued to describe the person who shot Congresswoman Gabby Giffords as right wing, long after it was provenhe was not motivated by politics and if anything expressed liberal leanings.
SPLC also smeared a conservative black female professor as an “apologist for white supremacists” because of her review of a film about racism.
Time and again I see SPLC using the reputation it gained decades ago fighting the Klan as a tool to bludgeon mainstream politically conservative opponents.
Prior posts by me include these posts, among many, demonstrate that SPLC exaggerates and shows anti-conservative political bias in creating these lists:
- Southern Poverty Law Center Completes Its Descent Into Madness (regarding SPLC attack on Sarah Palin)
- Confirmed – SPLC Exaggerated About Klan In Rhode Island
- Neo-Nazis in Rhode Island? SPLC exaggerates again
- SPLC’s hatewatch gives cover to hate
- SPLC Demonizes Supporters of Traditional Marriage
- Southern Poverty Law Center Still Peddling Lie That Giffords Shooter Was Right-Winger
Today brought another example of how SPLC lists are picked up by mainstream media, as if authoritative. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is a group that successfully has litigated major religious rights cases, including the Supreme Court victory in the Trinity Lutheran case.
I didn’t realize it, or at least forgot, that ADF is on one of SPLC’s lists, a pattern of SPLC singling out and demonizing Christian groups that disagree with same sex marriage or otherwise seek to uphold what they view as traditional Christian values.
So when Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared before ADF, ABC News created a headline accusing the group of being a hate group:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered a speech to an alleged hate group at an event closed to reporters on Tuesday night, but the Department of Justice is refusing to reveal what he said….
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Alliance Defending Freedom is a legal advocacy group founded in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1994 that “specializes in supporting the recriminalization of homosexuality abroad, ending same-sex marriage and generally making life as difficult as possible for LGBT communities in the U.S. and internationally.”
The group is representing Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who is challenging the state’s nondiscrimination protections after he was found in violation of the law for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in 2012. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the case in June 2017….
In a recent blog post on its website titled “Hate-group labelers are the ones spreading hate,” the Alliance Defending Freedom called the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “hate group” designation a “lie.”
“We at ADF condemn all such manifestations of true hate,” the post reads. “They have no place in our society.”
According to David Dinielli, the deputy legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s LGBT Rights Project, however, the label is “rightfully earned,” and the speech raises questions about whether Sessions will uphold laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination.
Sure, people might dig deep in the ABC News article to see that ADF disputes the charge, but the headline is what everyone sees first, and carries the biggest impression.
NBC News had a similar headline:
ADF issued the following statement:
“ABC News has committed journalistic malpractice. For ABC News to essentially cut and paste false charges against Alliance Defending Freedom by a radically left-wing, violence-inciting organization like Southern Poverty Law Center is a discredit to ABC News and to the profession. Americans’ trust in media is cratering, and the blatant bias and lack of professionalism that ABC attempted to pass off as news can only serve to confirm and intensify that distrust.
“Alliance Defending Freedom is one of the most respected and successful Supreme Court advocates in the legal profession, having won seven cases at the high court in the last seven years. Southern Poverty Law Center spends its time and money attacking veterans, nuns, Muslims who oppose terrorism, Catholics, Evangelicals, and anyone else who dares disagree with its far-left ideology. Meanwhile, ADF works every day to preserve and affirm free speech and the free exercise of religion for people from all walks of life and all backgrounds because we believe freedom is for everyone.
“For the sake of its own integrity, ABC News should issue an apology to Alliance Defending Freedom and retract the defamatory story it published Wednesday.”
— Alliance Defending Freedom (@AllianceDefends) July 13, 2017
The Federalist has Sessions’ speech to ADF, which starts:
Thank you for that introduction. And thank you for the important work that you do every day to uphold and protect the right to religious liberty in this country. This is especially needed today.
While your clients vary from pastors to nuns to geologists, all of us benefit from your good work—because religious liberty and respect for religion have strengthened this country from the beginning. In fact, it was largely in order to enjoy and protect these rights that this country was settled and founded in the first place, as those in this room especially know.
David French at National Review, who attended the ADF conference, calls on national media to stop citing SPLC as an authority, Media Beware: The Southern Poverty Law Center Has Become a Dangerous Joke: Reporters should stop using it as a source.
What’s the solution? The media should stop using it as a source — unless the SPLC again starts focusing on its original valuable mission of exposing and combating racist terrorists and white supremacists. Enough is enough. The SPLC has lost its integrity. Media outlets who use the SPLC to assess Christian speech expose only their own bias and incompetence. There is no justification for its vicious hate.
French’s suggestion is wise. News organizations need to stop aiding and abetting SPLC’s political smear campaign.
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