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August 19, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Though it bills itself as a hate watchdog, the work of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) actually enflames rage with potentially deadly results, an employee of two conservative groups targeted by SPLC argues in a new op-ed.

Jessica Prol Smith is senior news writer and editor for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who previously did the same for Family Research Council (FRC). Over the weekend, USA Today published an op-ed in which Smith declares SPLC a “hate-based scam that nearly caused me to be murdered.”

In August 2012, Floyd Lee Corkins II entered FRC’s lobby, armed with a SPLC list of “hate groups” and planning to, per his own confession, “kill as many as possible and smear the Chick-fil-A sandwiches in victims' faces, and kill the guard.” Nobody was killed thanks to the intervention of security guard Leo Johnson, who was wounded. As Smith recalls, she was “trapped on the sixth floor” during the attempt.

“It has always been easier to smear people rather than wrestle with their ideas,” she wrote. “It’s a bully who calls names and spreads lies rather than thoroughly reading a brief’s legal arguments or challenging the rationale underlying a policy proposal. The SPLC has chosen to take the easy path — to intimidate and mislead for raw political power and financial benefit.”

“For years, former employees revealed, local journalists reported and commentators have lamented: The Southern Poverty Law Center is not what it claims to be,” Smith continued. “Not a pure-hearted, clear-headed legal advocate for the vulnerable, but rather an obscenely wealthy marketing scheme. For years, the left-wing interest group has used its 'hate group' list to promote the fiction that violent neo-Nazis and Christian nonprofits peacefully promoting orthodox beliefs about marriage and sex are indistinguishable.”

Smith then recounts the case against SPLC, from its political biases to internal strife that has come to light over the past year.

SPLC has long been controversial for its history of labeling mainstream Christian and/or conservative organizations – including Alliance Defending Freedom, Family Research Council, the Ruth Institute, the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and Jihad Watch – “hate groups” to be blacklisted from various online platforms and services. The organization has managed to pressure companies like Mastercard and GoFundMe to (temporarily, in some cases) deny services to conservative figures and groups.

Over the past year, it has also been forced to make a public apology and pay $3.4 million in defamation damages to Maajid Nawaz’s Quilliam Foundation, ousted co-founder Morris Dees for “inappropriate conduct,” and endured testimony from insiders that the organization is a “highly profitable scam” and that Dees saw “civil-rights work mainly as a marketing tool for bilking gullible Northern liberals.”

Despite its record, Facebook, Google, and Amazon have all partnered with SPLC to varying degrees to help determine which users to exclude and content to restrict on their platforms.

In response to Smith’s article, SPLC issued a statement doubling down on the claim that ADF and FRC are both “hate groups” for their positions on LGBT issues. The statement does not address Corkins having used one of SPLC's lists to select potential shooting targets.

“If the SPLC thought that its hate would intimidate or silence me and my colleagues, they’re sadly mistaken,” Smith concluded. “I’m lucky — blessed, really — that I didn’t take a bullet for my beliefs back in 2012. But the center’s ugly slander and the gunman’s misguided attack have sharpened my resolve and deepened my faith in my Savior, who commands my destiny and shields me from the schemes of man. The same is true for my colleagues.”