Conservatives targeted by the Southern Poverty Law Center have spoken out, criticizing the organization's "hate map."
In recent years, the definition of what constitutes a "hate group" has shifted for the SPLC. To see this shift, one needn't look further than the latest list compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Some of the groups are run by mainstream conservatives, or Christian groups many of whom haven't taken kindly to being mentioned in the same breath as legitimately hateful organizations.
On Wednesday, the SPLC released their 2021 hate map, which includes 733 groups they deem to be spreading hate. Among them are D. James Kennedy Ministries, an evangelical Christian group, ACT for America, which claims as its mission "to ensure the safety and security of Americans against all threats foreign and domestic while preserving civil liberties guaranteed by the US Constitution," and the Family Research Council, which works to preserve and strengthen the American family.
In response, leaders and attorneys for the aforementioned groups have spoken out against the SPLC, with DJKM going so far as to file a lawsuit.
"The ministry has sued SPLC for defamation, libel, and slander," attorney David Gibbs told FOX News, "because we are not a 'hate' organization, and our case is currently before the Supreme Court to decide whether the Times v Sullivan standard should be reconsidered."
"We believe that greater accountability will create more civility in public discourse," said Gibbs," adding that, "SPLC’s hate map is dangerous and intended to destroy organizations which they arbitrarily decide to include."
The SPLC has faced numerous lawsuits in the past, including one wherein they paid $3.275 million to Maajid Nawaz for labeling him and Quilliam as "anti-muslim extremists."
ACT for America founder and chairperson Brigitte Gabriel, whose group was also labeled anti-muslim, slammed the SPLC as "an insincere, untrustworthy, slanderous, money-sucking machine," suggesting they have "perfected the art of smearing their opponents in a way that defies all sense of logic and objectivity."
"Not only are those they often target not actually hateful, but often, actually fighting against hatred and standing for true human rights," she added.
The SPLC's hate map has had real world consequences for those included on the list. In August 2012, Family Research Council was targeted by a terrorist who, according to FOX News, had found the organization on the hate map, and was "planning to shoot everyone in the building and put a Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich by each victim's head."
The terrorist's plan was thwarted by a security guard, and he was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison.
The SPLC defines a hate group as "an organization or collection of individuals that – based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities – has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics."
They add that, "An organization does not need to have engaged in criminal conduct or have followed their speech with actual unlawful action to be labeled a hate group."
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