Jeff Sessions had nothing good to say about the Southern Poverty Law Center as he announced the creation of a brand new religious liberty task force, directly under his Department of Justice supervision. The Attorney General’s vow on Monday to “protect and promote religious liberty” made Christians ecstatic.
Sessions was wearing his poker face and had to be a little sneaky, likely so he won’t tip off the target of an ongoing or pending investigation, but he hinted that if it hasn’t started already, a probe of SPLC by the Federal Bureau of Investigation may be coming soon.
It isn’t right, he says, that “one group can actively target religious groups by labeling them a ‘hate group’ on the basis of their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center has made a practice of labeling many Christian organizations ‘hate groups,’ in recent years.
Another hint he may investigate SPLC, which some conservatives have been calling a “left-wing smear group,” came when Sessions noted, “a dangerous movement, undetected by many, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom.”
Sessions promised the injustice will be “confronted and defeated.”
Mr. Sessions emphasized the 180 degree turn around from the policies of Barack Obama’s administration. The job of the new task force will be to “develop new strategies, involving litigation, policy, and legislation, to protect and promote religious liberty.”
Before, federal agencies, including the DOJ, often embraced and gave unwarranted credence to the unjustified “hate group” designations the SPLC slapped on faith and family-oriented groups.
“When you’ve got an organization in the United States that is illegitimately targeting groups because of their Christian views and you have agencies in the federal government that are legitimizing that data, that is a recipe for disaster,” reflects retired Lt. General Jerry Boykin.
He serves as executive vice president for the Family Research Council. Based on his knowledge of the way government operates, Boykin’s guess “is that Sessions is setting the FBI or some outlet of the Justice Department to take an objective look at this whole concept of hate labeling, its impact, its origins, and its legitimacy.”
Although the DOJ didn’t respond one way or the other to a specific question about whether or not then they will be investigating the SPLC, leaders in the Christian community are encouraged by Sessions’ remarks.
As described by Mat Staver, chairman of the Liberty Counsel, “I think that by the attorney general making this statement today, warning against this dangerous movement, we can predict that the attorney general and the DOJ will take active steps regarding the SPLC.”
He also wants to see the DOJ look into their nonprofit status. “They are storing hundreds of millions of dollars in their coffers and millions in secret offshore accounts. That’s not the typical practice of a nonprofit.”
Liberty Counsel is currently in litigation with a “charity navigator website” called GuideStar, that refuses to promote the Christian legal nonprofit because the SPLC designated them a “hate group.”
Religious groups are not the SPLC’s only target but they are the favorite one. “The SPLC has targeted religious groups particularly,” Boykin asserts. “That’s why we at FRC were targeted.” FRC was designated as a hate group for supporting “traditional Christian sexual morality.”
After they were marked by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the FRC was the victim of a “terrorist attack” in 2012.
Troubled Floyd Lee Corkins II, armed with a 9mm pistol and 50 rounds of ammunition, entered the lobby of their Washington, D.C. headquarters and shot 46-year-old Leonardo Johnson in the left arm. Johnson and others managed to subdue the gunman until police arrived.
Currently, nearly 60 separate organizations are contemplating legal action against the SPLC in the wake of a recent settlement.
The SPLC made the mistake of picking on a target favored by liberals. Maajid Nawaz is a Muslim. When they attacked him as “an anti-Muslim extremist” for “condemning jihadists,” it ended up costing them $3.375 million.
Boykin explains that the settlement with Nawaz proves “that this is illegitimate.” They only do it, Boykin asserts, because they are in it for the money. “They’ve made a lot of money doing it and they don’t want to stop.”
“This whole hate labeling is a scam,” Boykin insists. “They’ve demonstrated that it was a scam.”
Over at D. James Kennedy Ministries, director of creative production John Rabe found the Attorney General’s words “heartening.”
Their television ministry is already suing both SPLC and Amazon “after Amazon refused it access to the Amazon Smile charity program due to the SPLC ‘hate group’ marker.”
Rabe also noted the connection between the SPLC lies and the shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise (R-La.) last year. “The SPLC’s deceit,” he notes, “may have possibly played a role in the shooting of a U.S. Congressman last year.”
James Hodgkinson shot Scalise after “liking” SPLC’s Facebook page comments that “repeatedly attacked Scalise.”
Rabe is glad to see that “perhaps the DOJ is turning from the partisan political maneuvering on behalf of the left that it became known for during the Obama Administration and instead taking a renewed interest in the rule of law and the Constitution.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center claims they don’t label anyone as a “hater” just for “believing that marriage should be between one man and one woman” but they designated Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson as “an extremist” instead, for exactly that reason. They were forced to apologize.
They didn’t learn much from the experience, they turned right around and labeled Ruth Institute as a hate group simply because “the organization cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church,” which, the Institute explains, is “a religious document binding on 1 billion people.”