By Christine Rousselle
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian legal organization that promotes life, marriage and religious liberty, has been removed from the “AmazonSmile” charitable giving program after being designated a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
AmazonSmile is a program that allows users to choose a nonprofit foundation to receive a small percentage of their Amazon purchases. ADF has been part of the program since its inception in 2013.
Recently, however, the group said it was told that this was no longer the case, due to the SPLC’s designation of the group as an “Anti-LGBT” extremist group.
Alliance Defending Freedom, which has won hundreds of legal victories, including seven cases at the Supreme Court, focuses on “defending religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family.”
ADF President and CEO Michael Farris sent a letter to Amazon May 3, explaining the kind of work his firm does. He said he was “surprised and disappointed” that his organization was removed from AmazonSmile, and that he found it “concerning” that the SPLC was behind this decision.
The SPLC has ADF listed on its website as a hate group alongside the Ku Klux Klan, racist skinhead organizations, and black nationalist groups.
“ADF recently drew the ire of SPLC because of its religious beliefs and advocacy,” said Farris in the letter. “Although the SPLC did good work many years ago, it has devolved into a far-left propaganda machine that slanders organizations with which it disagrees and destroys the possibility of civil discourse in the process.”
He also argued that the group has been “discredited” due to its tactics, and said that he hopes to meet with Amazon to explain why ADF is not a hate group and should be allowed to benefit from AmazonSmile.
Additionally, Farris offered to assist Amazon with the creation of a policy for AmazonSmile “that does not ban legitimate, well-respected, faith-based organizations like ADF.”
In an additional statement published on ADF’s website, Farris accused Amazon of “hiding” behind the SPLC, a group he says “fills its ever-increasing coffers by attacking veterans, Catholics, Muslims who oppose terrorism, and even nuns.”
“SPLC is not a neutral watchdog organization,” he said.
SPLC was founded in 1971 and originally monitored persons and groups fighting the civil rights movement. It began to track racist and white supremacist groups like neo-Nazis and affiliates of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1980s. It also claims to monitor other “extremist” groups like “anti-immigrant” and “anti-Muslim” groups.
More recently, the SPLC has listed mainstream Christian groups like the Family Research Council and Alliance Defending Freedom as “hate groups” for their “anti-LGBT” stance.
The Ruth Institute has also been included in this list by SPLC, and was also told that it was ineligible for the AmazonSmile program because of the designation.
Last year, the SPLC came under fire after it named Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Muslim who has spoken out against Islamic extremism, and Maajid Nawaz, a former Muslim extremist himself, on a list titled “The Field Guide To Anti-Muslim Extremists.” The page was eventually removed from the SPLC’s website this past April.
SPLC has also recently faced questions regarding its financial administration, after reports that the non-profit has transferred millions of dollars to offshore accounts and investment firms.