In the aftermath of what might be characterized as a domestic terror attack against the Family Research Council (FRC), conservative religious groups are demanding that organizations listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as hate groups no longer be called hate groups.
Wednesday, Floyd Lee Corkins II entered the FRC's Washington DC headquarters lobby and shot an unarmed building operations employee who prevented the gunman from gaining further access into the building and shooting others. Corkins allegedly carried a box of ammunition and 15 Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in his backpack and had volunteered for an LGBT community center.
FRC President Tony Perkins pointed to the Southern Poverty Law Center as a possible cause of the shooter's motives, saying the nonprofit that studies hate crimes gave Corkins a "license to shoot an unarmed man" and characterized the Southern Poverty Law Center as engaging in "reckless rhetoric." LGBT groups were quick to condemn Corkins' actions, but did not join Perkins in demanding that the designation be lifted from groups that use propaganda to falsely demonize homosexuals.
Perkins complained in a press conference that the hate designation was frequently cited by media in the coverage of the "Chick Fill-a Appreciation Day" where Christians patronized the restaurant for its CEO's stance against same sex marriage.
As reported here on Wednesday, Perkins and his FRC may have lobbied Congress to oppose the United States' denouncing Uganda's controversial "kill the gays" bill. The New Civil Rights Movement details FRC' lobbying efforts in this regard and provides archives of statements from FRC that have since been scrubbed from the FRC website. FRC has engaged in numerous other activities condemning gays, even suggesting that homosexuality be criminalized.
As to Perkins' suggestion that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) gave Corkins a "license to shoot," SPLC says the claim is outrageous. Mark Potok, Senior Fellow of SPLC wrote,
For more than 40 years, the SPLC has battled against political extremism and political violence. We have argued consistently that violence is no answer to problems in a democratic society, and we have strongly criticized all those who endorse such violence, whether on the political left or the political right.
But this afternoon, FRC President Tony Perkins attacked the SPLC, saying it had encouraged and enabled the attack by labeling the FRC a “hate group.” The attacker, Floyd Corkins, “was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center,” Perkins said. “I believe the Southern Poverty Law Center should be held accountable for their reckless use of terminology.”
Perkins’ accusation is outrageous. The SPLC has listed the FRC as a hate group since 2010 because it has knowingly spread false and denigrating propaganda about LGBT people — not, as some claim, because it opposes same-sex marriage. The FRC and its allies on the religious right are saying, in effect, that offering legitimate and fact-based criticism in a democratic society is tantamount to suggesting that the objects of criticism should be the targets of criminal violence.
As the SPLC made clear at the time and in hundreds of subsequent statements and press interviews, we criticize the FRC for claiming, in Perkins’ words, that pedophilia is “a homosexual problem” — an utter falsehood, as every relevant scientific authority has stated. An FRC official has said he wanted to “export homosexuals from the United States.” The same official advocated the criminalizing of homosexuality.
Perkins and his allies, seeing an opportunity to score points, are using the attack on their offices to pose a false equivalency between the SPLC’s criticisms of the FRC and the FRC’s criticisms of LGBT people. The FRC routinely pushes out demonizing claims that gay people are child molesters and worse — claims that are provably false. It should stop the demonization and affirm the dignity of all people.
"[Wednesday]'s attack is the clearest sign we've seen that labeling pro-marriage groups as 'hateful' must end," said Brian Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). "The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled the Family Research Council a 'hate group' for its pro-marriage views, and less than a day ago the Human Rights Campaign issued a statement calling FRC a 'hate group'—they even specified that FRC hosts events in Washington, DC, where today's attack took place. [...] For too long national gay rights groups have intentionally marginalized and ostracized pro-marriage groups and individuals by labeling them as 'hateful' and 'bigoted' — such harmful and dangerous labels deserve no place in our civil society and NOM renews its call today for gay rights groups and the Southern Poverty Law Center to withdraw such incendiary rhetoric from a debate that involves millions of good Americans."
In a press release, Bill Keller of LivePrayer.com threatened to file a $100 million lawsuit against SPLC if it did not take Keller's ministry off the hate map for Florida (Keller's group is not listed for anti-gay hate; it is listed under general hate). Quoting Keller's press release:
Keller said, "The sad shooting the other day at the Family Research Council by a man who supports the radical homosexual agenda, was clearly fueled by the left wing group, the Southern Poverty Law Center. I receive at least 4-5 death threats a month for taking a Biblical stand on issues like homosexuality, the false religion of Islam and other cults, and the fact life begins at conception and choosing to end that life is nothing more than legalized infanticide."
Keller went on, "Groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center give license to individuals who oppose a Biblical worldview to take whatever actions they deem fit, even acts of violence, to silence those they disagree with. Sadly, this intimidation has worked, because there are very few like myself who are willing to go into the mainstream media and promote Biblical Truth that a large percentage of society now rejects."
Keller concluded, "In the year 2012, if you take a Biblical stand, the media and groups like the SPLC identify you as a 'hate group.' Because the anti-God secular media gives a platform to radical organizations like the SPLC, it opens the door for people who reject Biblical Truth to commit acts of violence against those individuals and organizations who have been demonized by them."
Keller said that if the Southern Poverty Law Center does not take his name and his ministry off of their 'hate map' in the next 72 hours, his attorneys will be filing a $100 million dollar defamation suit in Federal Court against the organization.
The Huffington Post reports that Keller is becoming increasingly "notorious for his vehemently anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT stance."
Keller is also critical of the Church of Jesus Christ of Modern Day Saints (the Mormon church), which he says was "born out of the pits of hell." He has maintained a website called "A Vote for Romney is a Vote for Satan" for years. At that site, Keller writes:
I have been warning you for years now about this cult born out of the pits of hell and responsible for sending millions of souls to eternal damnation. For the nearly 200 years this cult has been in existence they have strived for mainstream acceptance. They are the most devious of all the cults since they have always tried to portray themselves as 'just another Christian group' when in fact, they are no more Christian than a Muslim is! Their deception starts with their name, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Sounds like a Christian church doesn't it? Some Mormons have recently changed their name to simply Community of Christ to disguise even better who they are in an attempt to lure people in. [...] Those who follow the false teachings of this cult, believe in the false jesus of the Mormon cult and reject faith in the one true Jesus of the Bible, will die and spend eternity in hell. Romney getting elected president will ultimately lead millions of souls to the eternal flames of hell!
Because of the Southern Poverty Law Center's work on identifying hate groups, which was noted by the FBI, the shooter at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin earlier this month was linked to white supremacist groups.