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

Religious Right Hurls False Accusations at SPLC

By Mark Potok on April 29, 2013 - 2:31 pm, Posted in Anti-LGBT, Extremist Propaganda

They just can’t stop lying. They claim to represent Christianity and the celestial love for mankind that Christ embodied, but when it comes to whomever they regard as their enemies here on planet Earth, the crudest of libels will do.

The latest example of the religious right’s endless series of falsifications, slanders and baseless demonizations came last Friday from Janet Porter, the former Janet Folger who heads the Faith2Action website, is an Obama-bashing “birther,” and really, really dislikes gay people. On a YouTube video, Porter claimed that the Southern Poverty Law Center had named the Concerned Women for America a hate group, published its president’s address, and “invited” people to “visit” her.

“Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America is concerned,” Porter says in a voice that telegraphs worry on her latest propaganda video. “The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled CWA as a hate group and they published her personal information and address and invited people to ‘visit’ her.”

A small problem for the big-mouthed spinner of tall tales: The SPLC has never listed the CWA as a hate group. The SPLC never published any personal information or address for Nance. And the SPLC never suggested that anyone visit her. Even Nance knows that. In the fundraising E-mail that was Porter’s source, Nance says another “liberal organization” labeled CWA a hate group, though she never says which one and only the SPLC publishes such a group list. And she attributed the publication of her address and the invitation to visit her merely to “the anti-CWA crusade.”

Porter’s bald-faced lie is one of a barrage aimed at SPLC that has come from the religious right in recent days and weeks. This morning, Rick Manning, the vice president of Americans for Limited Government, published his own scurrilous bit of yellow journalism on his group’s NetRightDaily website under the racy headline, “Southern Poverty Law Center tied to domestic terrorism.”

The centerpiece of Manning’s attack is a video published by the Family Research Council (FRC) last week that shows a man who wounded a security guard at its headquarters telling investigators that he got the FRC’s name from the SPLC list of hate groups as it appears on our website. That is apparently true, although it is false, as some on the religious right have claimed, that the shooter, Floyd Lee Corkins, found the street address of FRC on our website before carrying out the Aug. 15, 2012, attack. In fact, we never publish addresses of the groups we criticize.

But that was enough for Manning, who wrote that the SPLC is “now directly tied to a terrorist act” and has been “certified in federal court as being directly responsible for an act of domestic terrorism.” Certified? Directly responsible? Well, not really. But for people like Manning, any wild-eyed claim is apparently acceptable.

Manning was only the latest on the far right to try to get mileage out of the video taken from the court record and publicized by the FRC, which has blamed the SPLC’s hate group designation for the August attack on its guard. Last week, Tom Trento of an anti-Muslim group called United West published an exhaustive, five-part series soberly titled, “Southern Poverty Law Center Exposed!” Amid Trento’s overheated descriptions of the SPLC’s “pro-gay agenda,” “pro-Islamic jihad agenda” and “anti-American activities,” the series’ core is an interview with Tony Perkins, the head of the FRC and a man who has consistently lied about the reasons why SPLC listed the FRC as a hate group in the first place.

Perkins has claimed in repeated appearances on national television and in print that the SPLC lists the FRC because it opposes same-sex marriage and believes the Bible describes homosexual behavior as a sin. As he knows — in part, because I debated him on MSNBC over these very matters and, in part, because we have refuted his claim dozens of times in the national press — that is entirely false. But it serves his purposes to say so, because the real reason we list the FRC — that it regularly propagates known and defamatory falsehoods — is a little harder to criticize. Those falsehoods include the claim, repeated again and again over the years by Perkins and his fellow gay-bashing zealots, that gay men molest children at far higher rates than straight men do; that pedophilia, in Perkins’ 2010 words, is “a homosexual problem.” Or how about this, from an earlier FRC pamphlet: “One of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets’ of a new sexual order.” Yeah, right.

Perkins, Manning, Porter and the rest of them — the attacks on the SPLC in the last week or so have been too numerous to count — seem to think it’s fine to concoct utter falsehoods in their efforts to defame LGBT people. But when the SPLC takes them to task for those lies, their response is to attack perfectly legitimate criticism by saying the critics are responsible for any mentally ill or otherwise unhinged person who decides that the matter needs to be settled at the point of a gun.

Perhaps it would be better — surely, it would be more Christ-like — for these groups to quit demonizing gay people and affirm the dignity of all people. But that might be too much to ask from those who are happy to lie in defense of their cause.

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  • MARK TRAINA

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    FACT: The SPLC makes it very easy to separate the FAR LEFT from the “RIGHT”!

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  • http://hunteratrandom.blogspot.com Hunter

    As a general comment, people like Porter seem to live in a universe where belief trumps fact. For most people, daily life doesn’t usually involve dealing with unpleasant truths, and for Porter and her ilk, they can survive in a fantasy world with little trouble. Perkins, on the other hand, is a con artist from the get-go. His reaction when challenged on his lies is instructive: he changes the subject. His major assets are a high degree of fluency — the “gift of gab” — and being completely unencumbered by any sense of morality.

  • http://hunteratrandom.blogspot.com Hunter

    Sean — I’d like to know where you got your figures on hate crimes against Christians. The figures I found from the FBI (as of 2011) list anti-Catholic and anti-Protestant hate crimes combined as accounting for slightly under 9% of religion-based hate crimes, lower than crimes against Muslims, and far below the figure for anti-Jewish crimes. This doesn’t strike me as “prevalent.”

    http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cj.....es/table-1

  • Sean

    I’m not familiar with this woman, but the SPLC does have a double standard with regards to how it defines a hate crime. Hate crimes against Christians are prevalent, but don’t seem to be reported her.

  • EightBits

    Understand not everyone thinks of the bible as the ‘Word’.
    It has an extreme deficit when it comes to actual facts.

    Most I hear from remark that it is their belief that controls that ‘proves’ their stand that this is the true word of god.
    Really?

    There is no healing when people fundamentally, religiously, mentally, and emotionally – think they are superior to someone else. You can’t heal that. When someone thinks God gave them the right to be “Right”. Once religious dogma enters the brain, all intellectual activity ceases…

  • aadila

    Anyone care to wager that Tony Perkins listens to showtunes behind closed doors?

  • Linnea

    *Sigh* Mark Potok and his colleagues have far more patience with the religious right than I do… at least publicly. I’m sure this sort of thing drives them crazy. But they can take pride in it, too… they’ve nailed these wingnuts and have them squirming. The Tony Perkinses of this world have very likely known all along that the things they’ve said about GLBT people are lies, and now that someone has called them out on it, they’d rather keep lying than acknowledge their errors and apologize. That speaks volumes about them, way more than any words they can say. So much for the commandment about not bearing false witness…

  • concernedcitizen

    David you said, “They are right to say that there’s nothing Christian about their behavior. Unless lies are suddenly a Christian virtue.”

    I concur.

  • Mark Potok

    Just for the record, we actually did not push the theory that the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas was behind the murders of Mark Hasse and Mike and Cynthia McLelland. The whole ABT brouhaha around the case was prompted by two things: 1) the Texas Department of Public Safety memo, sent in December, a month before the first killing, warning that the ABT planned major retaliation against the authorities because of the November 2012 racketeering case brought against 34 ABT members including four of their top leaders; and, 2) the Dallas Morning News reports, beginning the morning after Hasse’s January killing and continuing for weeks afterward, saying that Hasse had been “heavily involved” in ABT prosecutions and that officials were investigating that tie.

    What we did was simply try to explain to reporters who asked what ABT was, how it differed from the larger national Aryan Brotherhood gang, and the nature of racist prison gangs in general. The idea that we diverted investigators from the real killer is ludicrous — does anyone really believe that on-the-ground investigators in Texas take their investigative cues from a civil rights organization in Alabama? Well, okay, a few nuts on the extreme right do, but no one with two brain cells to rub together could actually believe that.

    In a similar vein, much of the far right press and blogosphere has accused SPLC (me, in particular) of pushing the narrative that the Boston bombers were domestic right-wing types (before they were caught). Though, again, this fits the narrative of the right — SPLC is merely a fundraising racket, etc. — it’s totally false. In fact, I went on national TV repeatedly to say that the only thing the targets (marathon runners and observers) had in common was that they were American (or perceived to be; I know one of the deaths was of a Chinese woman), and that suggested the attackers might be jihadists. I played down the idea that Massachusetts’ celebration of Patriots Day on the day of the bombing had anything to do with it; I pointed out that the day that counts for the radical right is April 19 (anniversary of Waco and the OKC bombing), not the third Monday in April when Massachusetts marks the day. On at least a few of the TV shows, I also suggested that it seemed more likely they were domestic jihadists, not foreign operatives, based on the relative crudeness of their plot. Even Bill O’Reilly, who bizarrely sees himself as nonpartisan and objective, got this totally, 100% wrong — he ran a whole segment attacking me for pushing the “left wing” narrative that the attack came from the radical right. Our CEO even wrote O’Reilly a note saying he owed me an apology and a retraction. It isn’t exactly shocking to report that the Fox News host has offered neither.

    The right in this country apparently despises truth in all its forms.

    Mark Potok

  • SinghX

    Tony Perkins entire existence is based upon his ability to conjure up scenarios based upon opinions by those who pay him regardless of the truth; he just has to say what he’s told with a straight face…oh, and sound convincing!
    It’s how he makes his living.

    He and Ralph Reed are one in the same–they couldn’t do an honest days work in America, so, figured out a way to become part of the religious con game; mouth pieces for radical fundamentalist. No one can possibly believe believe a word of what they say as both have been reputed time and again…their entire existence revolves around their fabricated “reputation” as the “good christian” and, that’s it! Other than that, they have nothing else to offer society.

    Now, I say this not to dismiss nay of his lying, cheating ways or the horrific mess he’s paid to create; but this is how he make a living. His “business” is not much different than the predatory business practices of Romney. Perkins’ business is to con the bottom feeder fundamentalist who can’t figure out how to survive in modern society by pretending to “help” them as he gleans profits from the all disasters he creates. It’s his niche. He’s a con man.

  • Edward E

    Maybe this is why they want the 10 commandments posted everywhere- they can’t seem to remember them.

  • concernedcitizen

    Sam did you just tell us that you’re a reasonable gay Christian?

    I don’t know of anything in the Bible that states Gays are not Christians or that they don’t belong in Church, etc.

    Gays and Lesbians have been targeted by the same narrow minded ugly mud slinging bags that go after minorities and anyone else who bred outside of their family twigs.

  • concernedcitizen

    Well David Cary Hart, I can only imagine that the employees are sitting there shaking their heads and wondering how free speech has been so terribly interpreted to mean lie, lie, lie to destroy those who stand against you…

    It’s disgusting to see how people like Manning go to war with no honor, no code, and no self-respect. But what’s worse are those that follow in those footsteps.

    It is the duty of all good citizens in this country to keep an eye on hate and those that promote it. Believe me they are keeping an eye on the rest of America who does not believe in their fatalist propaganda, those that go to a different church, those that have different skin colors, dress different, love differently, etc., etc…

    The SPLC is merely a target for them because it is an organization made up of people who care and who in fact would like to see a better world, a better America.

    Being the target of these groups pays a certain tribute and honor to the SPLC; these groups wouldn’t be targeting the SPLC if they didn’t believe them to be a threat to their existence.

    So with keeping that in mind rally up the SPLC supporters and tell them to give and donate a little more…may the threat against hate grow strong…

    And may the force be with the SPLC and all of their supporters. :)

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GargamelGold?feature=mhee Critical Dragon1177

    Mark Potok,

    I think these guys are just desperate to slander the SPLC since you guys do such a good job exposing them. The Silver lining to all this, maybe that SPLC is doing what it first set out to do.

  • http://www.slowlyboiledfrog.com David Cary Hart

    Sam:

    I honestly don’t think that is the case. Lumped in with Westboro Baptist Church are just (IIRC) 14 other anti-gay hate groups. I would note, for example, that neither National Organization for Marriage nor Focus on the Family are designated as hate groups. Even Liberty Counsel gets a pass (much to my amazement and chagrin).

    If I compiled the list, it would be several score. SPLC is far more, well, tolerant.

  • http://skippingtothepiccolo.com David W. Shelton

    Sam, I really don’t think that’s necessary. The SPLC does not have a beef with Christian organizations and churches, and knows full well that there are gay Christians and educated Christians regarding LGBT issues.

    Their beef — and mine — is that political organizations and hate groups like the AFA, FRC, and others are using their “family” and “christian” label to distort, lie, and demonize — all to benefit their own agenda. They are right to say that there’s nothing Christian about their behavior. Unless lies are suddenly a Christian virtue.

  • Reynardine

    To the types called Right Wing Authoritarianism, A. Everything they don’t like is the same thing; B. It’s all part of a conspiracy to destroy them (the pure and sole incarnation of “decency”); C. Therefore, any tactic they use is “fair”, and any tactic used by the other side is villainous. If this sounds like a mental disease, well…

  • Dan Zabetakis

    I think the phrases “directly tied” and “directly responsible” are probably actionable. I’m not sure, but doesn’t the SPLC know some lawyers who might be able to do something about this?

  • http://www.holybulliesandheadlessmonsters.blogspot.com a.mcewen

    I think SPLC has made it clear that it doesn’t call out all Christians nor does it lump all Christians in with Fred Phelps. But if I can play devil’s advocate, I would wish that the Christians who don’t want to be associated with folks like Phelps are more vocal about their disagreement with that bunch.

  • Sam Molloy

    I doubt if this would appease the extreme Right, but the SPLC could try a little harder to acknowledge the existence of reasonable, even Gay, Christians instead of lumping us in with nuts like Fred Phelps.

  • http://www.slowlyboiledfrog.com David Cary Hart

    I have written about this a few times. You missed the preposterous editorial in the equally preposterous Washington Examiner.

    the FRC seems to have settled on the defamatory “SPLC has been linked with terrorism in federal court.” They keep repeating it over and over again.

    Today’s hit piece out of FRC claims that SPLC mislead investigators in the Kaufman County murders. It’s just nonsense. Even if SPLC was incorrect about AB’s responsibility. So what? It was clearly offered as a theory.

    I am thoroughly disgusted with this BS. I cannot begin to image how SPLC staffers feel.