Southern Poverty Law Center gets sued by Christians and Muslims and hardly anyone covers it

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 12.42.07 AM.png

The Southern Poverty Law Center has had a pretty nice week, getting $1 million from George and Amal Clooney and another $1 million from Apple in the wake of the Charlottesville riots. And from JP Morgan, another $1 million.

But it appears that some of that money may need to go for a legal defense fund now that a conservative Christian organization is suing it for including its name on a hate group list (and on a hate map pictured above). And not only that, but a Muslim is suing the SPLC as well. 

What’s amazing isn’t so much the lawsuit from the Christians, which isn’t unexpected. It’s how, more than 24 hours since the story broke, mainstream media coverage of this story just hasn't happened. Considering how some of the best-known liberal groups or personages just dumped $3 million on the SPLC quite recently, don't you think a lawsuit against it would be news?

As for media -- this is one of those "conservative" news topics -- that have stepped in, Fox News began it this way:

A prominent evangelical ministry has filed a federal lawsuit against the left-leaning Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), saying it defamed the Christian organization as an “active hate group” because it endorses the biblical view of homosexuality.
The clash marks the latest chapter in a growing feud between those who embrace historic monotheistic beliefs, whether Christian, Jewish or Muslim, and progressive activists who have begun targeting mainstream Christian groups that hold traditional beliefs about sex and other issues. 

By the way, Fox is one of the very few media organizations that covered Maajid Nawaz’s lawsuit against the SPLC in June. I looked up who else covered it and I found more conservative-leaning outlets: The National Review, and the Washington Examiner.

Yes, there was a pre-lawsuit profile by the New York Times magazine. Other than that, there was a lot of silence from the other MSM.

Back to the evangelicals, Christianity Today might have had the better lede:

A venerable Christian ministry based in Fort Lauderdale recently saw its name listed on a CNN map of “all the active hate groups where you live,” as well as in local news reports as the No. 1 hate group in Florida.
D. James Kennedy Ministries shares sermons, devotionals, and religious liberty messages inspired by the late founder of Coral Ridge Presbyterian, a prominent Florida megachurch. In media coverage after Charlottesville, the Christian broadcaster was mapped alongside about 60 “hate groups” in the Sunshine State, using designations from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
“Enough is enough,” said Frank Wright, president of D. James Kennedy Ministries, which filed a lawsuit against the SPLC on Wednesday. The organization also sued GuideStar and AmazonSmile for their use of the SPLC list.

We’ve written about the Guidestar situation and the deeper questions as to whether something is hateful just because the SPLC says it is. And remember, back in 2012, a gunman who saw the Family Research Center’s name on SPLC’s hate list, walked into its Washington, D.C., headquarters and shot a guard. The guard prevented a massacre.

But the map is everywhere. In last week's podcast, tmatt noted that CNN printed it again as part of the Charlottesville coverage.

More from CT:

The suit alleges that the ministry’s inclusion on the list of hate groups amounts to defamation -- spreading false, harmful information -- as well as a trademark violation, misrepresenting the ministry in order to drum up fundraising support. Wednesday’s filing made the same claims against the charity-research site GuideStar for promoting the SPLC designation, seeking an injunction against further use of the “hate group” label and damages from both organizations.

The Sun-Sentinel, hometown newspaper for D. James Kennedy Ministries in Ft. Lauderdale, took 10 paragraphs to tell readers that the ministry is filing a lawsuit. Then:

In a full-page ad in Sunday’s Sun Sentinel, Kennedy ministries condemned the SPLC and the hate map. Earlier, it produced a half-hour video, “Profits$ of Hate: The Southern Poverty Law Center,” and an “expose booklet” entitled, “Special Report: The Southern Poverty Law Center Exposed!”
“Charlottesville just kind of brought everything to a head,” (ministry director of partner relations Matthew) Krepcho said. “People were going to the SPLC’s hate map … We had tried to expose the SPLC for their hate map prior to Charlottesville, but after Charlottesville we felt we needed to fund the ad.”

The SPLC hasn’t been answering the phones about the lawsuit so the Sun Sentinel was reduced to interviewing a local gay city commissioner who’s had it in for Kennedy Ministries for some time.

But the larger question is: With media digging up every possible angle on Charlottesville and its aftermath, why aren’t more outlets jumping on this Kennedy Ministries story? Earlier today (I’m writing on Thursday), the New York Times ran an opinion piece by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, another Muslim on the hate list, asking why the SPLC targets liberal Muslims.

Yet, when she mentioned Nawaz’s lawsuit, the Times linked her words to a piece by Mediaite because none of its own reporters had covered it.

Folks, let’s actually cover the news from both sides of the aisle instead of relegating important stories to the editorial columns. I’m hoping that with this Kennedy Ministries lawsuit, a lot more reporters will take a second look at the SPLC now that you’ve got the Muslims and the Christians opposing it.

Then again, I may have a long wait.

MAIN IMAGE: The famous SPLC "hate groups" map.

Please respect our Commenting Policy