August 17th, 2012
03:06 PM ET
Shooting sparks controversy over 'hate' designation for conservative group
By Michael Pearson, CNN
(CNN) - It's an online gallery of hate.
Here on the Southern Poverty Law Center website is Blood & Honour, a racist skinhead group with members who killed two homeless people they deemed inferior, according to police. A quick scroll away is the World Church of the Creator, which calls nonwhites "mud races" and preaches "racial holy war" that has, according to authorities, inspired some members to commit violent crimes.
Then there's the Family Research Council.
The SPLC says the conservative Washington policy group is listed as a hate group because "it has knowingly spread false and denigrating propaganda" about lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.
The designation, in place since 2010, has ignited a fierce debate after an apparently politically motivated shooting Wednesday at the FRC's Washington offices.
Conservatives see FRC attack as part of broader war
A Virginia man who authorities say harbors "strong opinions with respect to those he believes do not treat homosexuals in a fair manner" is accused of shooting the manager of the council headquarters, wounding him in the arm.
The suspect was carrying 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches, leading investigators to link the attack to recent comments by the restaurant chain's CEO defending traditional marriage and the Family Research Council's staunch defense of traditional marriage.
While the SPLC defended its label Thursday, saying it was about the "demonization" of gays and a long history of anti-gay activism, the FRC and its conservative allies struck back.
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"I believe the Southern Poverty Law Center should be held accountable for their reckless use of terminology," FRC president Tony Perkins said.
In response, SPLC senior fellow Mark Potok said the FRC was looking to make gains from the tragedy.
"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."
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The FRC, through spokesman P.J. Duffy, declined to comment for this article.
Outside opinions were, predictably, mixed.
Tufts University political science professor Jeffrey Berry said the council is a mainstream, if very conservative, public policy shop - one of a multitude in Washington.
"I'm not comfortable calling them a hate group," he said.
"There's probably some things that have been said by one or two individuals that qualify as hate speech. But overall, it's not seen as a hate group," said Berry, who has written extensively about the influence of ideological and public policy groups in Washington.
Peter Montgomery, a blogger for the liberal think tank People for the American Way, said he backs the SPLC's designation.
"If you ask me, 'Does the FRC promote hatred towards gays and lesbians?' I would say yes it does," he said. "The FRC is not the KKK. But that doesn't also mean they deserve a free ride from being called out on their hateful rhetoric."
The FRC opened its doors in 1983, three years after founder James Dobson, then of Focus on the Family, held a prayer session with eight Christian leaders at a Washington, D.C., hotel, according to the FRC's official history.
"FRC's immediate goal was to counter the credentialed voices arrayed against life and family with equally capable men and women of faith," the group writes in its history.
According to its mission statement, the FRC "champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society."
"Properly understood," the mission statement continues, " 'families' are formed only by ties of blood, marriage, or adoption, and 'marriage' is a union of one man and one woman."
According to IRS data, the group received nearly $12 million in revenue in 2009, the latest year for which data is available.
It works on a variety of topics, including anti-abortion policy, traditional marriage, educational choice, religious liberty and family tax policy.
What has raised the SPLC's ire is the Family Research Council's stance on homosexuality. The council calls it "by definition unnatural."
"We oppose the vigorous efforts of homosexual activists to demand that homosexuality be accepted as equivalent to heterosexuality in law, in the media, and in schools," according to the council's website.
"Attempts to join two men or two women in 'marriage' constitute a radical redefinition and falsification of the institution and FRC supports state and federal constitutional amendments to prevent such redefinition by courts or legislatures."
The group says it also supports programs to help people overcome "unwanted" same-sex attractions.
But the SPLC says the group goes further than simply promoting a conservative Christian perspective. It spreads lies in pursuit of its own political agenda restricting the rights of homosexuals, the group argues.
Among other things, the SPLC says the council uses dubious science to convince Americans that gays pose a threat to their way of life, particularly that gays are a threat to children.
In 1999, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an FRC analyst co-wrote a booklet called "Homosexual Activists Work to Normalize Sex With Boys."
In the document, which is not available on the FRC website, the authors reportedly argued that "the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the "prophets" of a new sexual order," according to the SPLC.
The group also was heavily involved in the effort to prevent the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy prohibiting military service by openly gay men and women. Among other things, Perkins said, the change would force the military to pay for sex-change operations.
In 2010, the FRC was widely denounced after blogger Joe My God published documents that appeared to show the FRC provided $25,000 for lobbying efforts to defeat a congressional resolution expressing opposition to a proposed law in Uganda, which called for the imprisonment of gays and lesbians and the death penalty for those accused of spreading disease and other acts of "aggravated homosexuality."
The story was picked up by several news organizations and still appears in Internet denunciations of the group. In a 2010 statement, the FRC said that it did not support the Uganda bill or the death penalty for gays and lesbians.
In a statement published at the time, the group said it only wanted lawmakers to "remove sweeping and inaccurate assertions that homosexual conduct is internationally recognized as a fundamental human right."
Not long after that controversy, the SPLC added the FRC to its list of hate groups.
The FRC has been a "font of anti-gay propaganda throughout its history," the SPLC wrote.
However, unlike many of the groups listed in its "intelligence files," it does not accuse the group of any violent or illegal acts.
At the time of its designation as a hate group by the SPLC, the FRC called the label "slanderous" and "character assassination" in an open letter published in Washington newspapers.
"This is intolerance pure and simple," the ad read. "Elements of the radical Left are trying to shut down informed discussion of policy issues that are being considered by Congress, legislatures and the courts."
After Perkins' comments Thursday, the debate began to take off.
In The Washington Post, columnist Dana Milbank noted the controversy.
"I disagree with the Family Research Council's views on gays and lesbians," he wrote Thursday. "But it's absurd to put the group, as the law center does, in the same category as Aryan Nations, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Stormfront and the Westboro Baptist Church."
On the conservative website Newsbusters, a commenter posting as "Blonde Gator" said calling an organization a hate group doesn't make it true.
"Just because the FRC has a mission statement which doesn't align with your own agenda, does NOT make them a hate group," Blonde Gator wrote.
Elsewhere, a blogger going by the name of "Senator Blutarsky" said the designation lowered the bar for what constitutes hate.
"The Great Chicken War showed that in 2012, all one need do is subscribe to a conventional understanding of Christian teaching, and boom! You're a bigot," the commenter wrote, referring to the Chick-fil-A controversy.
On the website for "Truth Wins Out," which describes itself as a nonprofit "fighting anti-gay lies and the ex-gay myth," blogger Wayne Bessen wrote that the SPLC was "100% correct" in labeling the council as a hate group.
"As someone who reads Perkins' anti-gay fundraising letters - make no mistake about it - this group loathes LGBT people with a special passion," he wrote.
One commenter on the site said the shooting "was Lady Karma finally come a-calling on the FRC."
"GLBT people have put up with their hatred, beatings, burning, rapes, murder ... for centuries now," said the poster, writing as "Merlyn." "But the second something like this happen we are blamed and groups like the FRC ramp up the volume of their calls to incarcerate us. I'm not saying I approve of what the shooter did, but all things considered, the FRC got off very lightly."
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FRC is the same group that gave Joe Walsh an award for protecting the family when he is $100K behind on his child support. How's that being pro-family?
the gays and their agents are now acting just like muslim extremists. they would rather start seeing people klled who dont accept and convert to their beliefs. and dont expect help from the government because they love to coddle gays for their votes.
Did you show the same disdain for the man who was responsible for six deaths at the Sikh temple?
I'm sorry, i did not know it was the Gays who had the rights and christians that were oppressed. In over half of the states, Gays do not have the same rights as straight people. That is absurd. Gays don't want christains to have less rights, they want equal rights to them. And why should they not? And don't use Leviticus as an argument or Romans, both of those arguments I have seen been blown apart
Guys and Lesbians have protect your fredom!
The FRC is a hate group in every way. Let us not forget Nazi Germany, when good people sat around and watch the Nazi Machine take over Germany. The right wing destroyed Germany and they are doing the same today in our country. Warning: Please lets stand up for our country the United States of America before its too late.
I'm sorry about the violence at the FRC, I'm certain the guy had mental issues.
Yes, he did. It's called "being a liberal." worst disease one can attract.
the gays are the new hate group pal
Hate group???lol. I've done significant research on this group and although not agreeing with their opinions, they are far from a hate group. It's also interesting that in this case the shooter is mentally deranged(which I do believe is true) but in many previous cases was inspired by the Limbaugh's of the world. At least be consistent...............
Why does the Extrme Right beleive liberalism is a mental disease and those people should be not be allowed to have any say in anything?
@nmmel: Because it's been easily proven over and over and over and over and over and over and over... I'm sure you get the picture
Yes, let's look at Nazi Germany, who had the strongest economy in the world, the ONLY workable national healthcare system, state ran banks (which means they were out of Jewish hands), and frankly, had the safest streets in the world. Yes, why don't we talk about how awful Nazi Germany was.
No it hasn't, Liberalism gave us SS, Medicare, Medicaid, Equal rights for Blacks and Hispanics and Asians as whites, Electricity in the south via the TVA, welfare, end of Don't Ask Don't Tell, women equal pay laws.
And because of your beloved libtard policies, now we're awash in non-white, third world criminals, r-a–p–i-s–t–s and murderers. Ever since the "equal rights movement" (The white ge-no-ci-de movement, aka bowel movement), crime has skyrocketed over 500%. If they were equal in capability, there wouldn't be as great a crime rate. Let's also look at the fact (and it is a PROVEN fact) that blacks have barely more than half of the learning capabilities of whites. This is why they are criminals. It's not that they don't know any better, it's just that it's all their capable of. Before the bowel movement, they stayed in their place and left people alone, because they knew what was good for them. Explain to me how an America with a black on white murder rate of 126-1 is better than the 40's or 50's again?
It´s kind of Ironic the same laws that protect gays and minorities could also be used
to protect the FRC .
It cannot be any other way. Free speech is free speech.
You know there are severe societal divisions when one person's hate group is another person's defender of faith and virtue.
The FRC's statement that their being called a hate group "is intolerance pure and simple" is ironic considering their terrible persecution of gays. They may claim their anti-gay propaganda is in defense of the family, but they seem unaware that the family as they define it represents only 1 in 7 households in the U.S. Like it or not, the world is a changin'.
Shocking....I would not assume there are so many gay people out there. Is it because of the harmful radiations, food additives, chemicals that made people with gay genes to be more prominent? Is that way we have more cancer folks and gay people too instead of just overexposure in the media? I mean, 100 years ago, we barely know what is going on here.
Its call single moms, single dads, families that are not nuclear families only, divorces, getting raised by aunts, uncles, disfunctional households.
Persecution of gays? What do they do, rip up sequined jackets in front of them and break Elton John CDs?
SPLC and the FRC in a pi$$ing contest to see which is the biggest hate group. Really does it matter you are both hate groups?
And just who does the SPLC hate? The KKK, Nazis, and the FRC? Yeah it matters when the people they hate are all evil.
They are a hate group; but only through cowardly provocation and degradation.
All they deserve in return is the same disrespect and contempt that they show towards those they would discriminate against.
There are most certainly varying degrees of "hate" and it would require a willing hypocrisy and ignorance to treat intolerance and prejudice in terms of black and white or good and evil.
SPLC has it right. Perkins of course really hates himself and transfers his hate to out gays. It's the American tragedy. It has been played out over and over again but some of your people are not quick on the uptake. (witness the witless posting here)
This article spends a lot of time focusing on calling out the FRC as a supposed "hate" group. Wait a minute!! – Who did wrong here??? It's not an FRC employee who pulled out a gun, but someone who HATES the FRC. Hmmmm..... who is the person of "hate" in this story. It was not the manager who did the shooting but he was the victim. HELLO????
This post was about how the FRC accused the SPLC calling them a hate group the reason why this shooting happened and is the FRC really a hate group. Context is important
The sad fact is hate begets hate. What goes around comes around.
Individualized Hate vs. Inst.itutionalized Hate
Know the difference
The article however, was not about the shooter. It was about questions concerning the FRC being called a hate group.
Get it? Not about the shooter.
Nonetheless, you make a good point in a clumsy way: this was manifest hate on both sides of the issure. Shame, shame.
Da'nyse: if it seems so to you, then someone has misguided you, as Gays do not seek to deny anyone’s rights. The issue is rather that they want the same special social privileges granted to other people who marry. They are in fact, no threat to traditional marriage, only the target of those who find it profitable to persecute an identifiable group, whether Jews, Gays or Muslims, or anyone else different from themselves.
People who believe in God have small brains.
That must be why your name is so short.
Let's be honest all of Christianity just like Islam is about hate! What about love thy neighbor? Does it say love thy neighbor if he is not gay or have the same belief as I do?
Oh, come on -Ray, you know.... it's that whole *HATE the sin, love the sinner* or some such malarkey.
Why is it considered Hate if they disagree with your position? Gays disagree with Christians is that Hate also?? By your definition I believe it is.
Gays don't want to deny Christians equal rights. Big and very obvious difference.
Ray Christ could not have been more clear on how we are to be and hate is not an option. Jesus went so far as to say if you think negative thoughts towards another you are guilty of murder. This he did to make a point clear that hate in sin.
Qu eers want to deny all humanity life. Qu eers the folks who brought AIDS to the innocent of the world
It seems to me that gays want to deny Christians their rights. You can't force your way into a church that doesn't want you, and you can't invalidate someone elses beliefs by overriding them with yours.
To Fred will you explain The Army of God for me? If you have never heard of them Google them.
Da'nyse, seriously, gays are not arguing they want to be in the churches that don't want them, they want to have legally recognized marriages, which in most states they cannot.
Just as with Hitler who claimed to be a Christian the Army of God justifies their nonsense. Christ was very different from the religeous people of his day. Love was the theme
Sorry Tufts professor you are a disgrace your school if you are not aware of the lies the FRC SPREADS DAILY.....
it sounds like a better organized KKK.
The KKK in suits.
I agree, it seems to me the right wing hides behind religion, while they spread their message of hate and bigotry. Wake America don't be Nazi Germany!
The FRC is a hate group in the same way that Nazis were a hate group. Nazis thought dog was on their side too.
Prayer changes things .
What does it change? Where is GOD?
My father cut off his finger with a table saw will you pray for him so that it will grow back?
Many such severed digits are reattached thanks to the knowledge God has granted mankind because someone asked in prayer. Too bad your "dad" did not avail itself of medical attention. God bless
Ray are you interested in why such prayer would not be answered or were you just poking fun at payer answers?
Not god or prayer but science.
In the Old Testament, God wouldn't even let a disfigured person come before him to worship God because God finds the sight of the disfigured revolting. So not only does prayer not change anything, God doesn't want your prayers if you've been handicapped and really need them.
Without God and prayer there would be no science. Science is not the opposite of God, God gave science to mankind. God bless
prayer does not work because there is no god and you are only talking to your self. god never has regrown a finger and never will.
admit it, RAY. You just miss his finger up your ass.
Ray, in current times I have never seen such a prayer answered. It would be nice if it happened every so often. I have never prayed for a limb to come back because of my lack of faith. My prayer would relate to everything but that missing limb staring me in the face. Because of my lack of faith I will never really know if God would have answered prayer.
There are studies that actually show prayer has a positive result. The results are in areas that leave doubt as to cause and effect.
You are referring to some old priests restriction on temple worship. Jesus blasted these guys for that nonsense.
If it's right wing, it's definitely a hate group, probably even terrorist.
If it's left wing, it's definitely a hate group, probably even terrorist.
See, jaja? Bullshi t cuts both ways.
Have we gone beyond the ability to just talk to each other?
If wewant to survive as a species we had better learn how fast.
The day is here,
I agree religion divides people.
I agree. As they say, the hour is late, the night is very long.
I think if the verious elements could come together in honest discussion, many minds would change, and the issue would soon be resolved. But discussion is lost when reason is forsaken in favor of mindless recitation of dogma and sweeping generalizations.
Our future as a species on the planet may well depend on our being able to have such discussions.
FRC is a hate group that actively works to deny basic rights to people. They are America's Taliban who work to impose their religious values o n the rest of us. A pox o n them and their corporate and billionaire supporters.
Let me get this straight: you're wishing a pox on a group with a different opinion than your own, and THEY'RE the hate group? I'd sure hate to see you angry!
Qu eers got no rights to perversion. Qu eers the folks who gave the world AIDS
Pervert...Aids started b/c someone got bled on by a Chimpanzee in Africa. Chimps have HIV in them, it just doesn't infect them anymore
After thoughtful review of your comment I have come to the conclusion it's BULL SH IT. Qu eers the people who gave the world AIDS
The long history of the SPLC speaks for itself. It has stood up against bigotry, even in the south, when it was dangerous to do so more than a half century ago. They are both partison and credible. Conservatives have always dispised them and their causes.
Did you do some research maybe Pervert? Maybe look into the fact that right now colored women are having the most increase of AIDS in this country. Or maybe do some scientific research. Also spell my name right, its two L, not 1. AIDS is a viral infection, not the gay disease. Believing otherwise goes against all the science on HIV and AIDS out there
This is from the Avert Website Pervert "It is now generally accepted that HIV is a descendant of a Simian Immunodeficiency Virus because certain strains of SIVs bear a very close resemblance to HIV-1 and HIV-2, the two types of HIV. " and "The most commonly accepted theory is that of the 'hunter'. In this scenario, SIVcpz was transferred to humans as a result of chimps being killed and eaten or their blood getting into cuts or wounds on the hunter"
Qu eers have been liars for so long they wouldn't know Truth if it bit you on the ass. Ground zero = one sick Canadian qu eer with hundreds of human and animal contacts, including chimps. Qu eers the people who gave AIDS to the world.
Pervert I got science on my side. I'm a medical researcher and have a biochemistry degree. I know what the *beep* i'm talking about. The science agrees with me, not you. Your spotting conspiracy theories. AIDS was found in humans in 1959 in a male in the Democratic Republic of Congo. So its not something that started in Canada.