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Charity database backpedals: stops labeling pro-family groups as ‘hate groups’

Claire Chretien Claire Chretien Follow Claire

June 26, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The charity database GuideStar will stop labeling conservative non-profits "hate groups" after it faced backlash for doing this based on classifications from a left-wing organization linked to domestic terrorism. 

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) labels groups that support man-woman marriage and oppose gender ideology "hate groups." The man who planned a massacre at the Family Research Council (FRC) and shot the group's security guard said he picked FRC because the SPLC labeled it "anti-gay." The man who shot Rep. Steve Scalise, R-LA, earlier this month "liked" the SPLC on Facebook; it issued a statement shortly after the shooting condemning it. 

GuideStar, "the world's largest source of information on nonprofit organizations," labeled 46 groups in its database "hate groups" because they are designated as such by the SPLC. FRC, American Freedom Defense Initiative, the Immigration Reform Law Institute, the American College of Pediatricians, the National Task Force for Therapy Equality, and the American Family Association were among the 46.

This prompted conservative leaders to ask GuideStar to stop using the "hard-left activist organization" as its arbiter of "hate."

"The SPLC has no bona fides to make such determinations. It is not a governmental organization using a rigorous criteria to create its lists, and it is not a scientifically oriented organization," a group of conservative leaders wrote in a June 21 joint letter to GuideStar's president. "The SPLC is merely another 'progressive' political organization. ... The SPLC’s primary goal is to achieve the political submission of its opponents, but its practice of sustained demonization in one’s community – which is what a 'hate map' is all about – inflames passions of hatred and animus against its targets."

"Does it not concern you that within the past five years, the SPLC has been linked to gunmen who carried out two terrorist shootings in the D.C. area?" the leaders asked. "We think it is a reasonable point that an aggressive political partisan like the SPLC should not be allowed to be the judge and jury of its opponents’ character and motivations."

On June 23, GuideStar announced it reversed its decision to use the SPLC's "hate" label.

"We have heard from both supporters and critics of this decision, many of whom have presented reasonable disagreements with the way in which this information was presented," GuideStar said in a statement. "We acknowledge there is a deep, nuanced conversation to be had with Americans of all political, cultural, and religious backgrounds regarding how we address — and identify — hate groups."

"We have decided to remove the SPLC annotations from these 46 organizations for the time being" out of "our commitment to objectivity and our concerns for our staff’s well being," it said. "Dismayingly, a significant amount of the feedback we’ve received in recent days has shifted from constructive criticism to harassment and threats directed at our staff and leadership."

The change "will be implemented during the week of June 26, 2017."

"We are generally encouraged by GuideStar's decision to remove the labeling of non-profit webpages like ours based on characterizations made by the ... SPLC, a bitterly partisan political organization that has been linked in federal court to a domestic terrorist shooting," said Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, executive vice president of FRC. "The SPLC continues to list on its website people such as House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was recently shot by James Hodgkinson, who 'liked' SPLC's Facebook page."

"We must add that FRC is greatly dismayed that GuideStar and its staff have received verbal attacks and threats since news broke that a number of mainstream conservative organizations had been tagged by GuideStar with the SPLC's 'hate' label," Boykin continued. "We encourage GuideStar to report these threats to the authorities."

Boykin said FRC does "not take such matters lightly" because "we at FRC know directly what it is like to be on the receiving end of threats and life-threatening violence."

"We note that our interactions with the GuideStar staff have been cordial – even though we disagreed with its new policy," he added.

"Over many years, we have come to know our constituents very well and have no doubt that they, as followers of the Lord Jesus, share our condemnation of threats and violence. This goes to our larger point about the SPLC. It is the SPLC that creates a toxic environment of hostility and animus toward those they seek to silence," concluded Boykin.

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