The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) this week admonished GuideStar, the widely used charity tracker, for its temporarily halted decision to attach “hate group” labels to organizations so designated by the controversial Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Dan Busby, President of ECFA, wrote a letter to GuideStar stating, “The practice by GuideStar of labeling any 501(c)(3) organization as a hate group undermines GuideStar’s credibility among nonprofit leaders as a neutral, objective source of information about the nonprofit sector.”
SPLC classifies NRB members Alliance Defending Freedom, Family Research Council, and several other conservative organizations as purveyors of hate like neo-Nazis and similar radical groups. While GuideStar removed the hate tags after objections from a number of those smeared and their allies, the charity information aggregator indicated it was doing so “for the time being” as it re-evaluated the situation. GuideStar also said it will provide SPLC’s designations to those who ask for them.
ECFA’s letter reminded GuideStar that it is relied on by nonprofits and donors “precisely because of its neutral and objective approach to providing information.” Noting that labeling “hate groups” is subjective, Busby added, “We believe it would be very damaging to the public service reputation of GuideStar for it to be viewed as just another advocacy organization.”
SPLC, which distinguished itself for its battles against the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists, has received increased attention recently for overreach in its hate designations. For example, a recent in-depth Politico article highlights questions as to whether “SPLC is overplaying its hand, becoming more of a partisan progressive hit operation than a civil rights watchdog.” In addition, this Sunday the nationwide Truths That Transform broadcast of D. James Kennedy Ministries will feature a special program titled “PROFIT$ OF HATE: The Southern Poverty Law Center.”
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: July 14, 2017