The Pacific Justice Institute, representing Family Research Council (FRC), is pressing fundraising software company MobileCause to cease reliance on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) contentious “hate group” list or face a lawsuit over discriminatory practices against the conservative religious organization.
Last month, MobileCause terminated its agreement with FRC about an hour before one of FRC’s “Pray Vote Stand” broadcasts, preventing FRC from reaching tens of thousands of its supporters. MobileCause CEO Victor Limongelli claimed in a September 2 letter that his company has “a corporate practice of not working with organizations on the SPLC list” but was “previously unaware” of the designation given to FRC. FRC has contracted with MobileCause since March 2018.
In its letter Tuesday to Limongelli, the Pacific Justice Institute noted that many of the 940 organizations on SPLC’s list of “hate groups” are Christian organizations that advocate Bible-based beliefs that sometimes places them in conflict with the views of others, such as those who advocate for special rights based on sexual behavior or identification.
“It does not take much research to find problems with the SPLC list of ‘hate groups,’” the letter states.
Among the respected conservative Christian organizations that SPLC has designated as a “hate group” are Alliance Defending Freedom, American Family Association, Liberty Counsel, and D. James Kennedy Ministries, which is awaiting a hearing in December before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals over its lawsuit against SPLC and Amazon for defamation. Pacific Justice Institute is also on the “hate group” list for being “anti-LGBTQ.”
“Terminating the contract under the guise of a discredited organization’s list of ‘hate group’s – a list that includes many Christian organizations – is just an excuse to discriminate on the basis of religion,” Pacific Justice Institute states in its letter.
The legal group also questions the timing of the contract termination, noting that it was done just one hour before it was scheduled to broadcast voter information to educate evangelical voters in preparation for the upcoming election.
“The circumstances in this case reveal another incidence of technology companies attempting to silence conservative voices while promoting their own social views (or the views of the SPLC on what constitutes a ‘hate group’), topics that have been raised at recent congressional hearings,” the legal group says.
That sentiment was also shared by Troy Miller, CEO of NRB, the nation’s preeminent association of Christian communicators, who said the incident was another demonstration of the power that tech companies have against increasingly marginalized conservatives. For the past decade, NRB has been monitoring, documenting, and advocating against threats of anti-Christian censorship and other free speech violations on the internet.
“Just like that, one company was able to prevent a broadcast with information about the 2020 election from reaching thousands of Christian voters,” Miller said. “Tech companies are pushing conservatives out of the public square and silencing them under the guise of ‘hate speech’ moderation. In reality, they are suppressing voices with which they disagree.”
Miller also re-iterated what numerous conservative leaders and organizations have been telling the public for years: “The Southern Poverty Law Center has devolved from an organization that once fought against real hate groups, such as the KKK, and has become a hate group itself.”
“SPLC is engaged in harmful defamation and vilification of mainstream conservative organizations,” he said. “Media and tech companies such as MobileCause need to stop relying upon SPLC’s inflammatory decrees.”
In concluding its letter, the Pacific Justice Institute asks “that MobileCause agree in writing to henceforth cease reliance on SPLC’s hate classification labeling in any way for any purpose.”
“In the unfortunate event that this cannot be resolved, we are prepared to file a lawsuit,” it concludes.
Notably, it was about eight years ago – on August 15, 2012 – that a terrorist shooter stormed FRC’s headquarters armed with a loaded semi-automatic pistol, 100 rounds of ammunition, and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches. The shooter stated that he “wanted to kill the people in the building and then smear a Chick-fil-A sandwich in their face … to kill as many people as I could.”
He was stopped upon entry, however, by FRC’s building manager, whose arm was shattered by one of the shooter’s rounds. In an interrogation video released by the FBI, the shooter admitted he picked FRC as a target from the SPLC website.