WASHINGTON, D.C., November 25, 2013 ( – The FBI has a partner in its fight against so-called hate crimes – the anti-Christian Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). 

On its hate crimes website, the FBI lists “Resources” for those who wish to examine hate crimes further. Resources include the Justice Department Civil Rights Division, “Federal Civil Rights Statutes,” and the SPLC. 

The SPLC says it is “dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry,” and works to “track the activities of hate groups and domestic terrorists across America.” According to its “Hate Map,” the SPLC claims there were 1,007 hate groups in the U.S. in 2012.

But while some organizations are actual hate groups, such as the New Black Panther Party, others are reputable Christian organizations listed as such for merely supporting traditional Christian values on issues such as marriage.

According to Chris Gacek, a Senior Fellow for the Family Research Council (FRC), which is listed as a hate group by the SPLC, “The FBI has to be very careful about the sources it cites and directs its staff to use.  It is not acceptable to offer up data on ‘hate’ from a highly political organization like the SPLC which has not been subject to rigorous scrutiny and neutral assessment standards.”


Last year, a disturbed gay activist stormed into FRC’s national headquarters in Washington and opened fire with a gun, injuring a security officer. The shooter specifically cited the SPLC in a videotaped admission, saying he used the SPLC’s “Hate Map” to find the FRC. SPLC called accusations it was culpable for the shooting “outrageous.”

The shooter planned to target other socially conservative groups after attacking the FRC, but was subdued by security at the FRC headquarters. 

The FBI endorsed the SPLC in February of 2007, under former President George W. Bush.

Under federal law, according to the FBI, “[a] hate crime is a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias….Hate itself is not a crime—and the FBI is mindful of protecting freedom of speech and other civil liberties.” However, the SPLC’s definition of a hate group is far more expansive than the FBI’s crime definition.

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“Hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics,” according to the SPLC’s website. It also says that “[h]ate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing….Listing here does not imply a group advocates or engages in violence or other criminal activity.”

In 2012, the FBI counted a decrease in hate crimes of nearly seven percent. However, the SPLC reported that over 1,000 hate groups existed in 2012, a slight decrease from 2011. However, they wrote that “as President Obama enters his second term with an agenda of gun control and immigration reform, the rage on the right is likely to intensify.” The SPLC claims the number of hate groups went up by over two-thirds from 2000 to 2012, which stands in contrast to the Census Bureau’s report, based on police reports covering over 90% of the American population, which showed that in 2009 the number of hate crimes reported dropped nearly 20% from 2000.

The SPLC’s attacks on social conservatives have been opposed by many organizations that support traditional marriage, across racial and religious boundaries.

The federal government’s relationship with the SPLC has increased since its 2007 collaboration, including an invitation from the Department of Justice for a SPLC co-founder to present on diversity in 2012. The military has also used the SPLC for information and data on equal opportunity.

“It is becoming clearer that military installations and the DOD's equal opportunity oversight organization are doing similar things” as the FBI, said Gacek. “The Restore Military Religious Freedom coalition is discovering more evidence that the DOD has a widespread problem that must be corrected.” 

The FBI declined to comment for this story, and the SPLC did not return a request for comment. 


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