The Southern Poverty Law Center has been trying to marginalize Christian beliefs for a while. Now, Christians are pushing back.
D. James Kennedy Ministries in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has sued the SPLC for labeling it as an "active hate group" because it holds to traditional Christian views on homosexuality and marriage.
Why would a Christian ministry be a hate group?
As sexual orientation and gender identity have become "civil rights" issues on the front lines of the culture wars in the United States, people and organizations, particularly churches, that do not support LGBTQ lifestyles are increasingly under fire from mainstream media and organizations like the SPLC, who claim these religiously-based beliefs are bigoted and discriminatory.
Christianity, at its core, is about love. By designating a Christian organization as a hate group, the SPLC is pursuing a culture in which disagreement with the mainstream equals hate.
“It’s completely disingenuous to tag D. James Kennedy Ministries as a hate group alongside the KKK and neo-Nazis,” Kennedy Ministries spokesman John Rabe said to Fox News. “We desire all people, with no exceptions, to receive the love of Christ and his forgiveness and healing. We unequivocally condemn violence, and we hate no one.
“It’s nothing more than an attempt to bulldoze over those who disagree with them, and it has a chilling effect on the free exercise of religion in a nation built on that," Rabe continued. "We decided not to let their falsehoods stand.”
I've never heard of D. James Kennedy. Why should I care?
The SPLC's attacks on Christian organizations are significant to all Christians. The SPLC has a storied history of taking up noble causes and using the law to bring justice and fight legitimate hate. The SPLC did significant damage to the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s, for example.
Because of that history, the SPLC is an influential voice in shaping public perception of organizations. Categorization as a hate group by the SPLC leads to increased animosity and opposition from the culture at-large. For churches, that opposition can hinder them from serving communities both at home and worldwide.
Religious freedom is a form of free speech, and irresponsible attacks from the SPLC and others on religious expression aren't likely to stop with churches. Aggressively suppressing the views of certain groups, especially when you have to twist their message in order to do so, is a slippery slope.
“These false and illegal characterizations have a chilling effect on the free exercise of religion and on religious free speech for all people of faith," a statement from Kennedy Ministries read. "After having given the SPLC an opportunity to retract, we have undertaken this legal action, seeking a trial by a jury of our peers, to preserve our own rights under the law and to defend the religious free speech rights of all Americans.”