Dustin Siggins is an Associate Editor for The Stream and a public relations consultant. He previously was the PR Director and DC Correspondent for LIfeSiteNews, the world’s largest pro-life and pro-family daily news website. He has been published across the political spectrum, and has appeared on numerous local and national radio and TV programs.
Readers of the Register are undoubtedly familiar with the influential leftist group Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). According to the Media Research Center's Dan Gainor, SPLC was “once a legitimate civil rights organization” that has become a “leftist propaganda shop.”
Today, they use their influence to malign organizations that don't kowtow to new definitions on marriage, sexuality, and gender as “hate groups.”
Recently, ABC News and NBC used SPLC to label the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) as a hate group. ADF, which has won a number of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and represents clients whose religious liberty is at stake, has received support from conservatives, including a U.S. Senator who reminded ABC that “disagreement is not the same as discrimination and it’s not the same as hate.”
Some of the implications of SPLC's influence – which from 2007 to 2014 included being an official partner of the FBI – are obvious. Many conservatives hold them accountable for at least a shooter who went after the Family Research Council in 2012, and another shooter who targeted GOP Members of Congress. In 2015, they won a court case that put a reparative therapy group out of business. Under President Obama, they pushed LGBT propaganda onto military service members.
However, there are two other implications that are often overlooked:
1. SPLC's definition of a “hate group” could risk the legal status of mainstream religious groups like the Catholic Church. LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief John-Henry Westen told me he thinks this is the goal. “SPLC point is to criminalize the Catholic Church and similar Christian faiths that disagree with SPLC’s ideological views, especially those on human sexuality,” said Westen in an e-mail.
According to SPLC, a hate group has “beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” Additionally, “Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing.”
These broad definitions clearly encompass the Church, which teaches the truth about sexuality and gender through many mediums, individuals, and groups.
2. To some liberals, blaming SPLC for certain violence against conservatives may be seen as hypocritical, since pro-life activists refuse to take blame when violence is committed against abortionists. Conversely, conservatives condemn how liberals blame peaceful and prayerful pro-lifers for violence against abortionists while turning a blind eye to any role The New York Times might play in ambushes of police officers or any role SPLC might have played in the aforementioned 2012 and 2017 shootings.
However, Gainor says it is consistent to hold SPLC's feet to the proverbial fire, telling me that “there is an enormous difference between conservative complaints about Planned Parenthood and what the SPLC pretends to do.”
“Conservatives are right in calling out Planned Parenthood,” said Gainor in an e-mail. “It pretends to be pro-woman and then uses taxpayer dollars to destroy ... babies. The SPLC simply uses its extremist ideology to identify anyone who dares to simply disagree as a hater and, by so doing, may put them at risk of harm.”
Gainor’s argument implies three good points – first, pro-life complaints about Planned Parenthood are doubly valid because the abortion company is publicly funded. Second, pro-lifers’ views are based on the truth of human life, while SPLC’s “hate group” designation is used to promote lies about human sexuality.
Perhaps most importantly, SPLC says disagreement on the truths of sexuality and gender is hate. Pro-lifers say murdering innocents is… well, murder. And then we pray for everyone involved.