FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) may have to pay out big money after calling a Christian ministry a hate group.
D. James Kennedy Ministries (DJKM), a Protestant organization, is taking the SPLC to court, claiming defamation and religious persecution after it was added to the SPLC's Hate Map which also lists racist organizations like the Nation of Islam, White Nationalists and Neo-Nazis.
The map currently names 917 organizations throughout the United States as "hate groups," breaking them down into various groupings like anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT, anti-Muslim, Black Separatist, Christian Identity, General Hate and others.
Originally founded to help people who had been victims of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and other white racist organizations in the early 1960's, the SPLC has embraced LGBT ideology and consistently fought against Christian values.
The DJKM has earned the ire of the SPLC because of its outspoken advocacy of marriage between one man and one woman, among other things.
Dr. Frank Wright, president and CEO of DJKM, calls the SPLC's accusation "a terrible wrong," calling the group "willfully deceitful" for labeling DJKM a hate group "solely for subscribing to the historic Christian faith."
"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," he declares, adding, "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."
Both Amazon and Guidestar are also included in the lawsuit, also calling DJKM a hate group. GuideStar, an organization that provides public records for non-profit organizations gets its "hate group" information from the SPLC and Amazon prevented DJKM from participating in its AmazonSmile program due to GuideStar's rating.
The lawsuit asserts the SPLC "acted knowingly, intentionally and with actual malice in publishing the Hate Map that included the ministry and in publishing the SPLC transmissions to GuideStar that included the ministry," adding its conduct "was beyond the reckless disregard for the truth standard required by Alabama law for punitive damages."
Both GuideStar and the SPLC claim the lawsuit is frivolous and will ask the court to dismiss the case.