Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) talked to the Christian Broadcasting Network on Wednesday about ABC News irresponsibly labeling a Christian civil liberties organization as a "hate group."
"When ABC News came out and said there are individuals from the Trump administration meeting with a 'hate group,' it immediately makes you think, 'OK. What is this hate group?'" the senator said. "And I look at the 'hate group' and it's Alliance Defending Freedom, and I think, "That's not a hate group, that's a religious liberty group.'"
"That's a group of attorneys just focused on how do you actually get religious liberty for every faith, or for people of no faith," he explained. "That's not a hate group."
The Alliance Defending Freedom is a Christian nonprofit group that seeks to defend “religious freedom, sanctity of life, and marriage and family."
"So initially," he continued, "my challenge back to ABC News and their editorial team was, 'Let's all be responsible on what we're calling hate and what we're calling free speech, And just be able to honor differences of opinion.'"
"For those of us who are in government, or those individuals who are in the leadership in journalism," he said, "we should be more responsible with the language we use."
"And to me," he concluded, "just a general reminder to say, be careful in how you write your headlines."
The Alliance Defending Freedom is demanding an apology from ABC News, who referred to them as an "alleged hate group" because of a designation given by the left-wing biased Southern Poverty Law Group. The SPLC has been criticized for rating right-of-center groups with mainstream views as radical or extremist "hate groups."
The report attempted to cast Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a suspicious light because he met with the group. Sessions, the article read, “delivered a speech to an alleged hate group at an event closed to reporters on Tuesday night, but the Department of Justice is refusing to reveal what he said.”
The SPLC labeled the nonprofit as a hate group because they specialize "in supporting the recriminalization of homosexuality abroad, ending same-sex marriage, and generally making life as difficult as possible for LGBT communities in the U.S. and internationally.”
ADF spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said, “For the sake of its own integrity, ABC News should issue an apology to Alliance Defending Freedom and retract the defamatory story it published Wednesday."