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The Alliance Defending Freedom is calling out two news organizations in Arizona for making “defamatory” claims copied from the far-left and terror-linked Southern Poverty Law Center.

“For the sake of its own integrity and the safety of Arizonans, 12 News and The Arizona Republic should issue an apology to ADF and retract their defamatory stories,” ADF said in a statement Wednesday.

The news organizations copied from SPLC its description of ADF as a “hate” group.

The Republic headlined its story: “Here are the 18 hate groups that operate in Arizona, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center,” describing ADF as one of the “anti-LGBT organizations.”

KPNX-TV in Phoenix said SPLC “also lists the Alliance Defending Freedom … as being [an] anti-LGBTQ hate group.”

Get the Whistleblower Magazine’s revelations about SPLC in “The Hate Racket,” the story of how one group fools government into equating Christians and conservatives with Klansmen and Nazis – and rakes in millions doing it.

In response, ADF communications director Kerri Kupec said her group “is one of the most respected and successful Supreme Court advocates in the legal profession, having won seven cases at the high court in the last seven years.”

“SPLC spends its time and money attacking veterans, nuns, Muslims who oppose terrorism, Catholics, Evangelicals, and anyone else who dares disagree with its far-left ideology,” she said. “Meanwhile, ADF works every day to peacefully preserve and affirm free speech and the free exercise of religion for people from all walks of life and all backgrounds, because we believe freedom is for everyone.”

Kupec said the two news organizations “have committed journalistic malpractice.”

“In an Aug. 14 story entitled ‘What are Arizona’s hate groups?,’ 12 News correspondent William Pitts relied entirely on slanderous and scandalous accusations against Alliance Defending Freedom made by the Southern Poverty Law Center as the basis for his story. On the same day, Arizona Republic reporter Cydney Henderson essentially copied and pasted SPLC data distributed to Arizona media outlets,” the statement said.

“For both of these media outlets to malign ADF by parroting a false description from a radically partisan, violence-inciting organization like SPLC and call it ‘news’ is a discredit to their news organizations and to the journalistic profession.”

She said the stories were “recklessly ill-timed,” since Tuesday was the five-year anniversary of an attempt at mass murder by Floyd Lee Corkins, who “entered the lobby of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., with the intent to kill as many employees as he was able.”

Corkins cited SPLC as his inspiration, and when he was convicted of domestic terrorism, SPLC was linked through his testimony.

WND has reported conservative organizations targeted by SPLC’s “hate” designation have begun to respond.

Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit that advocates for civil and religious rights, has sued GuideStar, an online report on nonprofits, over its use of SPLC’s “hate” labels, explaining the actions resulted in death threats to employees and other harm.

GuideStar some weeks ago added to its reports on nonprofits a “hate” label issued by SPLC, prompting a lawsuit from Liberty Counsel.

GuideStar recently asked that the case be dismissed, but Liberty Counsel, in a court filing, argued the issue of damages from the “hate” label has not been resolved.

“As a result of the false and defamatory ‘hate group’ designation, Liberty Counsel staff have received death threats, and Liberty Counsel has been forced to incur significant expense to enhance and increase its security,” the group said in the new court filing.

“Liberty Counsel has been forced to provide additional security because of the significant threat that GuideStar’s false and defamatory statement has caused. Violent extremists have relied on the false and defamatory statement to commit acts of terrorism and violence against innocent people who merely happen to hold a different viewpoint on certain issues than GuideStar,” Liberty Counsel said.

Liberty Counsel pointed out that SPLC “hate” designations already have been linked to two attempted mass murders: the attack by Corkins on the Washington office of Family Research Council and the shooting attack this summer near the capital that severely injured Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La.

Liberty Counsel explained: “It is clear this case should continue. GuideStar intended to damage Liberty Counsel’s reputation in the mind of the public and especially current and potential donors. This politically motivated label has exposed Liberty Counsel to potential violence and even death threats, causing additional expense increasing security to protect its staff from an attack similar to the one against the Family Research Council in 2012.”

After GuideStar labeled about four dozen mostly Christian and conservative organizations with the SPLC’s “hate” labels, a portion of the groups wrote a letter, and GuideStar pulled the labels from its website. But GuideStar said it still would provide that information if asked.

Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, said GuideStar CEO Jacob Harold “presented the ‘hate group’ label as ‘fact’ in an attempt to harm Liberty Counsel.”

“This ‘hate group’ label is false, defamatory, and dangerous,” he said. “There are unstable people who have listened to this reckless rhetoric and used it to justify physical harm and even attempted murder because of these false, politically motivated labels. GuideStar is playing with fire, and other innocent lives will be hurt by its reckless allegations. Liberty Counsel is not a ‘hate group’ and opposes violence.”

Liberty Counsel explained what SPLC senior fellow Mark Potock previously said about his group’s labels.

“Our criteria for a ‘hate group,’ first of all, have nothing to do with criminality or violence or any kind of guess we’re making about ‘this group could be dangerous.’ It’s strictly ideological,” Potock said.

He continued: “Sometimes the press will describe us as monitoring hate crimes and so on. I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups, to completely destroy them.”

SPLC’s rhetoric has gotten it into trouble before.

Liberty Counsel noted that in 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Disciplinary Counsel for the Executive Office for Immigration Review “sharply rebuked and reprimanded attorneys representing the SPLC and its allies for employing the SPLC’s ‘hate group’ label to denigrate a conservative advocacy group.”

“It concluded that employing the label against groups with which it disagrees ‘overstepped the bounds of zealous advocacy and was unprofessional.’ It continued that such behavior is ‘uncivil’ and ‘constitutes frivolous behavior and does not aid the administration of justice,'” Liberty Counsel said.

WND reported last month when SPLC’s president, Richard Cohen, defended his group’s attacks on Christians.

He wrote in a Huffington Post commentary that Christians deserve the designation because they “sow the seeds of hate” for, among other things, adhering to a biblical perspective on homosexuality.

But the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability warned GuideStar its use of false SPLC claims to undermine Christian organizations was damaging its credibility.

SPLC sits in judgment of Christians and others, labeling as “haters” those who disagree with its pro-homosexual and open-borders agendas. In fact, SPLC put Dr. Ben Carson in that category before facing a backlash and abruptly backtracking.

Paul Bedard documented in his Washington Secrets column that some of the groups targeted by SPLC now are unleashing a public counteroffensive, accusing the organization of “fueling hate, killing free speech and even encouraging terrorist-style attacks on those it doesn’t agree with.”

Earlier, the Alliance Defending Freedom demanded an apology from ABC News for quoting SPLC in a slam of ADF.

Bedard explained the new effort led by the Family Research Council includes a video and a tweet-storm that took aim at SPLC’s so-called “hate map,” which identifies groups it says promotes hate and extremism.

SPLC lumps together groups such as the Ku Klux Klan with conservative nonprofits that promote traditional marriage, enforcement of immigration laws and other policies to which it objects.

SPLC was linked to the attempted mass murder in 2012 at FRC’s Washington, D.C., office. Floyd Corkins II confessed to the FBI he was motivated by the so-called “Hate Map” on the SPLC website that listed FRC as a “hate group.”

WND reported a video showed Corkins entering the FRC offices and confronting Leo Johnson.

FRC repeatedly has explained it adheres to a biblical perspective on homosexuality but is not “anti-gay.”

SPLC also was linked to the June attack on congressional Republicans at a baseball practice before a charity game. SPLC admitted the shooter, James Hodgkinson, “liked” SPLC on Facebook, Liberty Counsel said.

SPLC previously contended Scalise “promoted white supremacy and supported a ‘hate group,'” Liberty Counsel noted.

Liberty Counsel also pointed out that Gatehouse Media, which owns the Florida-based News Chief, The Walton Sun and The Destin Log, similarly published a “defamatory article” that labels LC with the SPLC’s “hate” marker.

“The SPLC’s caustic and false rhetoric is dangerous because it creates a ‘Hate Map’ listing so-called ‘hate groups’ that includes nonviolent, pro-family, Christian, or conservative organizations,” Liberty Counsel said.

“Gatehouse Media has committed a grave harm and injustice to both the public and to Liberty Counsel,” said Staver. “Including Liberty Counsel in the context of the Charlottesville violence using the same ‘hate group’ label is defamatory and dangerous. Any responsible journalist would know that this false label has resulted in at least two attempted mass murders targeting people and organizations that are nonviolent. Liberty Counsel opposes violence. I condemn the racist and violent people and groups in Charlottesville and elsewhere. Not once did any journalist with Gatehouse reach out to us to verify their trash story. This article is the epitome of ‘fake news.'”

Get the Whistleblower Magazine’s revelations about SPLC in “The Hate Racket,” the story of how one group fools government into equating Christians and conservatives with Klansmen and Nazis – and rakes in millions doing it.

 

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