The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Editorial: Family Research Council Levels Dishonest Attacks at SPLC

By Mark Potok on September 5, 2012 - 8:24 am, Posted in Anti-LGBT, Editorial, Extremist Propaganda

Editor’s Note: The ongoing religious right attack on the SPLC, originally framed last month to suggest that the SPLC bore responsibility for a shooting at the Family Research Council because it had earlier named the FRC a “hate group,” has continued to expand to the point of absurdity. That was shown again last Friday, when Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel said on a radio show that any media that cited the SPLC’s hate group listings “will also have blood on its hands.” What follows is a response to the original criticism launched by the FRC.

Do words have consequences?

For years, we at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) have argued that they do. When conspiracy-minded Islamophobes claim that Muslims have a secret plan to force America into a medieval-style caliphate, Muslims in the streets get hurt. When angry nativists assert that Mexicans are plotting to “reconquer” the Southwest, some Americans respond by attacking Latinos.

And when the religious right spreads false and defamatory propaganda like the completely baseless notion that gay men molest children at rates far higher than their heterosexual counterparts, LGBT people end up, much more frequently than most people realize, at the wrong end of a baseball bat.

For the last three weeks, the SPLC has been under attack by a number of groups that fit into that last category. After an apparently politically motivated man wounded a guard at the Family Resource Council (FRC) in Washington, these groups launched a coordinated assault on the SPLC, accusing it of responsibility in the attack because it had earlier named the FRC a “hate group.”

At a well-attended press conference the day after the Aug. 15 shooting, FRC President Tony Perkins said that the alleged attacker, Floyd Corkins, “was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center.” He added, “I believe the Southern Poverty Law should be held accountable for their reckless use of terminology.”

A day later, Islam-basher and Obama-hater Jerry Boykin, Perkin’s recently hired deputy at FRC, took his boss’ rhetoric a few steps further. The SPLC, Boykin said, is an “anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, Marxist organization” staffed by “an evil group of people” who are “dangerous.”

The idea seemed to be that the SPLC was hypocritical — that after years of suggesting that organizations that demonize minority groups are ultimately contributing to violence against those groups, the SPLC had been caught doing exactly what it criticized in others. We had “recklessly” labeled the FRC as a hate group merely, as Perkins told Fox News, “because we defend the family and stand for traditional, orthodox Christianity.”

Did Perkins have a point? Was the SPLC’s criticism morally or functionally equivalent to the conduct we criticized, admittedly in harsh terms, coming from the FRC and like groups?

I think not. The SPLC’s listing of the FRC and several of its allies as hate groups was not based on its opposition to same-sex marriage or its belief that the Bible describes homosexual sex as a sin, as Perkins claims. As we said clearly when we began listing them in 2010, and have repeated on countless occasions since, we were calling out these groups “based on their propagation of known falsehoods — claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling.”

What kinds of falsehoods? Demonizing lies like the claim that gay men routinely molest children — that pedophilia, as Perkins once said, “is a homosexual problem.” And lest the FRC claim otherwise, this is no one-time claim; the group has made this assertion repeatedly, in slightly different forms, for years. It once even claimed that gay activists seek “to normalize sex with children” and “to eventually recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets’ of a new sexual order.”

The oft-repeated pedophilia charge is utterly bogus. “Despite a common myth, homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men are,” says the American Psychological Association, one of many scientific groups to point this out. Elsewhere, the APA adds, “There is no scientific support for fears about children of lesbian or gay parents being sexually abused by their parents or their parents’ gay, lesbian or bisexual friends or acquaintances.”

And what kinds of name-calling? The FRC regularly portrays LGBT people as sick, evil, perverted, and a danger to the nation. It talks about their “dark, perverse” ways and their “sordid sex lives.” It attacks their “transient, promiscuous and unfaithful relationships,” and insists that gay people are “fundamentally incapable” of providing good homes for children — a claim flatly contradicted by virtually all relevant scientific authorities. Gay rights activists, Perkins said in 2011, are “intolerant,” “hateful” and “vile,” and are pursuing an “agenda” that “will destroy them and our nation.” An FRC official has said he wanted to “export homosexuals from the United States.” That same official, speaking on national television in 2010, advocated the criminalizing of gay sex.

Do these kinds of words have consequences?

The SPLC recently analyzed 14 years of national hate crime data. We found that gay people were twice as likely to be attacked in a violent hate crime as black or Jewish people; more than four times as likely as Muslims; and even more likely than that compared to Latinos or whites. While it’s impossible to prove that the violence is related to any particular verbal attack, it seems obvious that public demonization of a discrete minority does help to legitimize the attacks.

Words do have consequences. But is the FRC’s propaganda and schoolyard name-calling really the same thing as the SPLC listing the FRC as a hate group? Is suggesting that gay men are child molesters — one of the worst things you can say about a human being today — really the same as making a fact-based criticism of a particular group?

The answer seems obvious. Pointing out the lies and slander of the FRC and some of its friends in the interest of attempting to bring some measure of civility to our political dialogue is not remotely the same as promulgating those lies. The idea that the activities of the FRC are equivalent to those of the SPLC is simply more propaganda from an organization that specializes in propaganda.

  • aadila

    The vast majority of minors who engage in prostitution are economically at risk. Usually they are runaways, and statistically end up being lured to prostitution around four days after being on the streets. This is true for both males and females.

    If we want to end the exploitation of human beings we need to begin with eradicating poverty and building compassionate ways to help them. This is especially true for children that are at risk, either by being abused at home or due to circumstances beyond their control.

    American society is in my opinion, grotesquely self interested, greedy, self righteous, and morally confused. None of these characteristics particularly help us to advance as a species.

  • Ian

    Nobody is suggesting that some children in some situations are not victimizers, but it is inconceivable to extrapolate from that to claim that all child prostitutes are victims. And only moral idiots think that a man who buys sex from a child is a victim.

    It is not “a sad situation for the […] john”. Someone who feels even the slightest urge to buy sex from a child and, instead of asking for help, follows up on that urge is not a “victim”. And the child who he buys sex from, no matter how much you think they “lead them on” or “temp them”, is not a “victimizer”.

    I would not want to be inside the head of anyone who thinks otherwise.

  • aadila

    Erika is correct, as usual. This is because she relies upon transparent and factual data.

    I would like to add that the vast majority of offenders against children are white people.

    This too is objective fact, like it or not.

    Heterosexual white people are really more destructive to God’s plan than most people think.

  • Erika

    Shane, writing things which is demonstratably false is not conducting research – it is making stuff up.

    Its also very easy for a well funded group to get completely bogus research even from legitimate sounding groups. The now defunct Center for Tobacco Research (formerly more honestly known as the Tobacco Industry Research Counsel) also claimed to be publishing legitimate “scientific research” from peer review journals. Of course, what they didn’t tell you was that they engaged in selective publication – namely when their paid scientists reached conclusions showing that smoking was dangerous, they shredded those studies. When the conclusion cast doubt on the dangers of smoking they published it. In other words, it was a pure industry front group who engaged in deliberate deception using creditible scientists (see also global warming denial which uses the exact same tactics – and the pharmaceutical industry is infamous for using selective publication to tout the effectiveness and safety of medications).

    And what the Family Research Counsel does isn’t even that – because they do not use legitimate scientists or social scientists and then use selective publication. They simply make things up – which real world statistics prove are demonstratably false. They use people who have specific agendas who simply make things up.

    The actual numbers are overwhelming – the vast majority of sex crimes against children involve male perps and female victims. The vast majority of sex crimes against children with male victims involve men who are married and engage in sexual realtions with adult women.

  • Kim

    I just wanted to let the SPLC know how grateful I am as a gay woman to all of the work that they do on the behalf of ALL minority groups in the United States.

    I hope the hateful bigots at the FRC do not succeed in intimidating your group into silence. That is exactly what they want. By exposing the FRC and Tony Perkins for what they are a HATE GROUP… SPLC makes it harder for Perkins to gain footing as the ‘good Christian’ he masquerades around the country as. And SPLC’s efforts are working. In the past year several cable news hosts have started calling Perkins out on his bogus ‘we have 30 years of social science that show us that…(gays are evil)’ claims.

    Keep up your great work SPLC.

  • aadila

    Rev 7:5: “No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.”

    As we see from this verse, 144,000 Christians are truthful people. That’s not very many for a group that considers itself followers of God. There are 2 billion Christians in the world today, so if will whip out a calculator that means 1,999,866,000 Christians are liars and not worthy to be taken with Christ at the Rapture. In other words, 99% of Christians are liars and defiled with women, according to the Bible.

    So I would guess that 99.9% of what you believe is a lie. The 0.1% that is truthful is the part about loving others as you love yourself. That part is missing for you. So whose work are you really doing here: God or the Devil? As stated in Romans, the enemy loves to seduce 99.9% of Christian groups like FRC to defile the word of Christ. And you are right with that 99.9%.

    As God to take the hatred from your heart. It might save you.

  • Sam Molloy

    Thanks, Rey

  • Kiwiwriter

    Shane, have you read what the SPLC has to say about FRC’s ridiculous claims?

    Can you back up FRC’s claims?

    And if they’re “a million miles from the right wing extremist groups that are truly dangerous to society,” could you define those for us?

    And how has fighting racism and the ugliness and pain it creates in its path be “irrelevant to society at large?”

    Come on, Shane…green this room with the offerings from the truck-garden of your mind.

  • Sam Molloy

    Shane, the FRC publishes opinion as fact, and I am of the other opinion on most of it. I don’t fall in lockstep with the SPLC or the NRA or certainly the RNC but support them in general because they are the only ones doing what they do. The SPLC could keep the Hate Group designation for overtly violent groups and institute a new label for groups like the FRC, something with some of the humour evidenced in the latest Intelligence Report.

  • Reynardine

    Given their incendiary rhetoric and the kind of violence, to a degree legalized, they have incited against people in Jamaica and Uganda, frequently with lethal results, the FRC can’t be called anything but a hate group.

    Ian, Sam: I’ve dealt with psychiatrically disturbed juveniles. They are both victims and victimizers, vulnerable and dangerous. Most of those I dealt with had done the Life on the Streets thing by the time they were fifteen. Helping them is high-risk, but rewarding when one succeeds. And no, on no account should anyone be engaging in commerce with them.

  • Shane

    The FRC may be going too far in trying to place blame for a shooting on the SPLC. I think their point is that the SPLC’s labels are unfair, inaccurate, and incendiary, which they are. Let’s face it, the SPLC’s labeling of the FRC as a hate group is absurd. They are not a violent group, and they are a million miles from the right wing extremist groups that are truly dangerous to society. The FRC publishes accurate, research-based information on homosexuality. It may be offensive, but, to my examination, it is all true. Truth does not equal hate. This is why the SPLC is only taken seriously by far left liberals. It has become irrelevant to society at large.

  • Sam Molloy

    Ian, I’m not talking about children. It’s a sad situation for both the hustler and the john, that’s all I’m saying.

  • Dick Lancaster

    American Psychological Association? Do they actually conduct scientific studies? That’s like doing reporting.

  • Ian


    “NWOslave, those are ‘hustlers’, some of whom are under 18. They are not innocent victims of child molesters. If anything they victimize their clientele.”

    Go to hell. Honestly, go to hell.

    “Us Gay people[…]”

    Don’t speak for me or anyone else ever again on any topic, whether that topic is your child rape apologetics or anything else.

  • Sam Molloy

    NWOslave, those are “hustlers”, some of whom are under 18. They are not innocent victims of child molesters. If anything they victimize their clientele. Most of their customers are married and identify as straight. Us Gay people know what they are and mostly have no interest in being hustled. In case you live where this does not go on, (a cornfield maybe) the movie “Johns” seems to be a reasonably accurate portrayal of this ancient phenomenon.

  • aadila

    The reason why FRC keeps attacking a non-violent group dedicated to preserving human dignity is because they are all seduced by Satan.

    It is for this reason they use the Holy Bible in order to bear false witness against their neighbors, because they wish to defile the Word. Satan knows that Christians represent the largest group of people that can still be seduced into turning against God, so he works in the minds of people like Tony Perkins to convince as many Christians as possible to disobey God’s word.

    The way to tell if this is true is to verify if Tony Perkins’ words and actions are in accordance with Christ’s teachings. Since Christ preached love, and Tony Perkins is dedicated to spreading lies about others, Tony Perkins can only be doing the work of the enemy in the name of Jesus, the savior.

    We are called upon to ”judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24) and failure to do so is to be negligent in a crucial aspect of our Christian calling. By perpetuating lies instead of looking honestly at the facts, the FRC is surely offending God and committing sins equal to those they acscribe to non-believers.

    The are like lukewarm water and God will spit them out. They bring upon themselves the woes of hypocrisy as Pharisees and their perjury. Outwardly they may pay lip service to the gospel but inwardly serve only to tear down the Kingdom of God. They are like whitewashed tombs, beautiful on the outside, but full of dead men’s bones.

    Romans 7:13: But how can that be? Did the law, which is good, cause my death? Of course not! Sin used what was good to bring about my condemnation to death. So we can see how terrible sin really is. It uses God’s good commands for its own evil purposes.

  • Reynardine

    Folks, it’s Friday.

  • krissy

    As Leviticus notes about scapegoats-“The goat will bear upon itself all their iniquities …” Leviticus 16:22

  • krissy

    Being gay is like being black in the Jim Crow South. Anywhere you go you are treated like a dog and it doesn’t matter if you are a model minority or not. Its sad and it has to change. It really has gotten harder for gay people in the past 15 years because groups like the FRC have made gays their target.

  • Roger B.

    I knew when I was watching a news report on the shooting at FRC and they were talking to perkins that he was posturing to launch a rediculous counter arguement about how innocent the FRC is in all of this. I did not until that point realize The FRC was listed as a hate group since I only recently subscribed to the SPLC newsletters. I have known of the SPLC for many years and have always had the utmost respect for their work and courage in the face of all the hate and backlash they recieve. Dittos for me as well on the peace prize going to the SPLC.
    I have been on the recieving end of the hatred towards gays so many times I can’t count them all, so it is with a great deal of gratitude and respect that I support the SPLC and all they do. I will also support more with money when I am able.
    The thing that amazes me is how poisonous these hate groups are and how a lot more people seem to be buying into their lies and hatred.
    Please keep up the good work.

  • Charles Dan Austin

    SPLC is the U.S. Constitution in action for all of those little people like me who do their best to support it and not only does it deserve the Nobel Peace Prize but also the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Medal of Honor.

  • Ann

    To the SPLC: Keep up the good fight.

    All that you do is much appreciated:


  • Karen Stewart

    The Family Research Council has been spreading lies about LGBT people since the 1980s. It is horrible and it has always hurt my heart to think that anyone could think such things, much less advertize them as truthful.

    SPLC isn’t responsible for any attacks on anyone. The SPLC is the anthesis to violence. This is a classic case of a bunch of right wing kooks trying to shoot the messinger.

  • Roger Nehring

    We are longtime supporters of SPLC and are grateful for your work in holding hatemongers up to the light.
    Thank you.

  • Reynardine

    Well, Shai, it was most convenient for them, but we can’t jump to conclusions.



  • Linnea

    I second Adam’s call for SPLC to win a Nobel Peace Prize. Nobel Committee, are you paying attention?

    I never cease to be amazed at how readily people swallow this crap. Even my dad, who is pretty enlightened otherwise, believes the BS about homosexuals abusing children at higher rates than straights.

  • aadila

    Mitch you are right of course, my data shows NWO is not accurate in his 50%-50% division at all. Also it is a clear fallacy on attributing prostitution clientele to gay people. But the real issue is pars pro toto (part for the whole) because even if a given demographic sample adheres to NWO’s argument, that is in no way indicative of broader society. My advice is don’t bother with that idiot’s comments which are intended only to inflame. NWO is probably a pedophile.

  • Reynardine

    Adamhill, there is also a difference in the quality of the rhetoric. Though describing violence at need, SPLC does not advocate it, even by dogwhistle; it is First, Fifth, Sixth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth remedies advocated here, not Second.

  • adamhill

    The distinction between the negative terminology used by the SPLC and that of groups like the FRC is simple: the first is based on facts and the second is based on lies. It’s great to see the SPLC continuing to respond to this latest attack by again straightforwardly and thoroughly communicating the truth about these kinds of organizations and the criteria by which they correctly become labelled hate groups. It’s not surprising that the FRC and its supporters are responding to this incident by continuing to deploy lies and distortions, because that’s all they have and all they are.

    You guys should win the Nobel Peace Prize.

  • Mitch Beales

    NWO’s calculations are based on the assumption that homosexual men and heterosexual men are equally likely to patronize underage prostitutes and that women do not patronize prostitutes at all. I’m sure NWO can provide support for these assumptions as solid as the support provided for the other suppositions in its posts.

  • Ian

    Sorry, double post.

    It’s a bit hypocritical for me to ask your source while not giving my own.

    Myth #2 in the “Intelligence Project” article linked in Potok’s post has more info. Here’s the link again:

    If you want a more specific source for that quote, I’ll look it up sometime later.

  • Ian


    Adult men who molest boys are usually heterosexual or asexual in their relationships with adults.

    Do you have a source for your claim that half of child sex workers are male? I’m not saying you’re lying – though even if the claim is true, it’s beside the point, since boy victim + male offender does not automatically mean gay offender – I’m just curious what the citation is because I haven’t seen that number before..

  • Reynardine

    Well, NWO, your so-called reasoning is flawed, as usual. I’d like to see you construct a Venn diagram.

  • Aron

    Oh boy. NWOslave is back. This will be fun.

  • NWOslave

    It isn’t false to say, “gay men molest children at rates far higher than their heterosexual counterparts.”

    Underage prostitution alone shows it as factual. Roughly 1/2 of all under age prostitutes are boys. Gays make up 1% to 2% of the population, which means gays are 5,000% to 10,000% more likey to engage in underage prostitution. How is this not a fact?

  • Aron

    I’m not really in a mental state to write very much, as I was just handed some particularly jarring news, but I too would like to tip my hat in respect to the amazing work you folks do.

    I just wish there was more that I could do besides donating money. Because at the moment, I sadly lack enough spare money to financially help you out :(

  • Identity-H

    I stand with the SPLC. I appreciate the work you do and I am not fooled by the cheap propaganda that FRC and it’s allies are attempting to spin.

    I know what FRC and a lot of the other hate groups were doing, but didn’t know the term until I saw it on this set of comments and Googled it. DARVO (Deny the accusation-Attack the confronter-Reverse roles of Victim and Offender). Thanks to the community here.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Boykin has been insane for a loooooong time. It’s amazing he wasn’t kicked out of the army on a mental health discharge. Maybe because his delusions are based on a popular religion.

  • Gregory

    I will also add my voice to those who support the work done by the SPLC. I think it also important that those who stand with the SPLC to do the same, as this thread will soon be flooded with predictably scripted outrage from the FRC sockpuppets.

    Supporting marriage equality for LGBTs doesn’t make me gay, any more than supporting civil rights made me black, supporting equal rights made me a woman or standing against apartheid made me a communist. Standing against the FRC does not make anyone anti-Christian but it does make them anti-ignorance. These are all distinctions that they will not understand.

  • Ian

    According to the FRC and their allies, below is a list of the shootings we should expect next:

    They should call the FBI right away.

  • aadila

    “There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle.”

  • Reynardine

    It is classic DARVO for abusers to accuse their victims of abuse, for the avaricious to accuse their victims of greed, for bigots to accuse theirs of bigotry, and it is most interestiing that we are being accused of murderousness.

    I note herein that I am not, personally, a fearful person. As the old song says, death must come to all that live between the earth and the sky, and I am approaching my LXIX birthday. But I sense a tide of blood and rage building that could overwhelm even children, and blight the futures of those who live long after I am gone. For this reason, if even modest good fortune comes my way, I propose to share it with you who fight that tide.

  • CoralSea

    Thank you, SPLC, for all of the work that you do in monitoring these truly hateful groups. As a non-Christian who was raised in a strict fundamentalist family, and who has family members who are “extreme” Christians (e.g., homeschooling because even their church’s school wasn’t “pure” enough, marrying daughters off to dad’s choices in husbands, evolution=evil, etc.) I am well aware of what some of these incredibly misguided people would do if they ever got into power.

    Many people still don’t understand that the leaders of many of these groups would advocate incarceration and/or execution (murder) for those who violate their strict understanding of the bible.

    I find it distressing, especially in cases like this, the lack of discernment on the part of members of the “general public” who don’t understand the difference between calling other groups out for their actions (in FRC’s case, persistent lies intended to demonize LGBT people), and the groups that perpetrate these actions. “Well, everybody is saying outrageous things now,” is a comment I often hear.

    I personally find it difficult to understand why they are so willing to give self-described “family-values,” religious folks a pass, or self-described “conservatives” who call for violent actions against others, despite incident after incident, and then say that they don’t want to “condemn” what is so obviously an orchestrated, sustained attack because they think that “the other side is doing it, too,” (e.g., a young man who volunteered at a gay advocacy center attempted to shoot up the FRC).

    While the attack on the FRC was unfortunate and should be roundly condemned, it is one incident weighed against the hundreds perpetrated by persons influenced by the pronouncements of the haters on the Right and some groups of the Religious Right.

  • Sted Mays

    Strange that Perkins and the FRC take no responsibility for their lies, inaccuracies, and political hatemongering toward LGBT, and, then, ironically, claim they are victims of exactly what they foment toward others. The bullying FRC is actually–again ironically–opening itself more widely to the very criticism it is launching against others.

    But all should condemn, and I believe have condemned, the crime of the deranged individual who committed despicably violent acts at the FRC. I pray that all those injured or traumatized in any way will heal and get justice.

  • Phila

    “The SPLC, Boykin said, is an “anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, Marxist organization” staffed by “an evil group of people” who are “dangerous.””

    Right, ’cause nothing’s more anti-Semitic than warning people about neo-Nazis. If Hitler were alive today, he’d probably write for this blog.

    Kidding aside, Boykin’s rhetoric is obviously a lot more hateful than the SPLC’s. Going by his own logic, I guess he must be trying to get people killed. That’s pretty much what you’d expect from a member of a hate group. (As is maudlin self-pity and an absolute lack of self-awareness.)

  • Reynardine

    In fact, at Right Wing Watch, Scott Lively is quoted as advocating that anyone advocating for gay rights should be greeted by a howling mob with tar and feathers. So again: whose blood?

  • Reynardine

    The CNP, I would point out, is virtually a shadow government, one which might well have been put in place if the last 9/11 plane had reached the Capitol.

  • Reynardine

    Let us consider: whose blood? Knowing the source of this charge, they may mean the blood of those who quote the SPLC, those who support it, its writers, its lawyers, its membership, those who post and comment here. This sounds like pre-emptive DARVO to me.

  • CM

    Perkins is also on the board of directors of the Council for National Policy, a secretive Christian Dominionist outfit that the SPLC has reported on in the past. I suspect much of the support for the FRC (and bashing of the SPLC) is emanating from there, but it’s hard to tell because they keep their membership list (and of course their donor list) secret.