Is the American Family Association really a hate group? AP needs to tell both sides of the story

The Associated Press highlighted a weekend prayer rally hosted by Louisiana Gov. — and potential Republican presidential candidate — Bobby Jindal:

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Gov. Bobby Jindal continued to court Christian conservatives for a possible presidential campaign with a headlining appearance Saturday at an all-day prayer rally described as a "global prayer gathering for a nation in crisis."
The rally attracted thousands to the basketball arena on LSU's campus but drew controversy both because of the group hosting it, the American Family Association, and Jindal's well-advertised appearance.
Holding his Bible, the two-term Republican governor opened the event by urging a spiritual revival to "begin right here, right here in our hearts." He was scheduled to speak again later Saturday afternoon.
While people sang, raised their hands in prayer and gave their personal testimonies inside the arena, hundreds more protested the event outside.

The American Family Association figures heavily — and negatively — in the AP report.

There's this reference:

Outside the prayer event, critics held a protest, saying the American Family Association, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has classified as a hate group, promotes discrimination against people who are gay or of non-Christian faiths.

And this one:

Jindal hasn't commented directly on the views of the American Family Association, which has linked same-sex marriage and abortion to disasters such as tornadoes and Hurricane Katrina.

How does the American Family Association respond?

The AP story doesn't say, although that information is readily available on the association's website:

Author:  Patrick Vaughn, Legal Counsel - AFA
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) calls the American Family Association (AFA) a “hate group” because AFA promotes traditional Biblical views on homosexuality and marriage. SPLC does not have a standard for who they label as a “hate group.” They apply the label to whomever they want to dehumanize and attack. Surprisingly, President Obama stated the same position on homosexual marriage that AFA holds when he first ran for President, but SPLC did not call him a hater.

Meanwhile, a 2014 letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director James Comey and signed by the leaders of 15 conservative and/or Christian groups — such as the Family Research Council, the Traditional Values Coalition and the Alliance Defending Freedom — complained about the FBI Hate Crimes website listing the SPLC as a resource. 

That letter argued that the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled many organizations as hate groups because "they are ardent defenders of marriage and sexuality as defined by the Christian and Hebrew Bible." The letter also accused the SPLC of "stalking and bullying" its political opponents.

In a blog post last week titled "What to expect when you're interviewed by AP," the wire service's standards editor, Tom Kent, cited a commitment to telling all sides of a story:

If there are other points of view besides yours on the subject at hand, we’ll look to obtain those as well and include them in the story.

Unfortunately, the story on the prayer rally headlined by Jindal fails to live up to that high standard.

If AP truly intends to serve as an unbiased news source, it can — and must — do better.

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