D. James Kennedy Ministries Sues SPLC over Hate Map

NewImageCoral Ridge broadcaster is first Christian group to take Southern Poverty Law Center to court over ‘anti-LGBT’ label.

Ain’t going to take it no more! And I’m sure there will be many more piling on. 

You cannot call ministries that hold to historic Christian beliefs as “hate groups”. Via CT

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.

Conservative Christian organizations have challenged the SPLC’s “anti-LGBT” category for years, but Wright’s is the first to take legal action—spurred by the controversial watchdog group’s increasingly vocal activism during Donald Trump’s presidency. The SPLC recently received a prominent boost from Apple, which pledged a $1 million donation and will launch a new feature to allow users to donate directly from iTunes.

D. James Kennedy Ministries—formerly called Truth in Action—claims that the SPLC falsely labeled it as a hate group with the intention to hurt its reputation and fundraising efforts, according to a 39-page lawsuit filed in federal district court in Alabama (where the SPLC is headquartered).

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.

Over the past week, several Christian groups on the list demanded apologies and retractions for being labeled hate groups in the Charlottesville coverage, including by CNN. ADF took particular offense since the news overlapped with the fifth anniversary of an attempted shooting at the FRC’s Washington office by a suspect who used the SPLC hate group list to target them.

The FRC applauded the suit, saying “The SPLC is inciting hatred against Christians, which has already led to violence. It needs to stop.”

The organization took out a full-page ad in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel to dispel the characterization, running an open letter under the headline: “D. James Kennedy Ministries Is Not A Hate Group.”

“We do not hate anyone,” Wright wrote. “We have been falsely branded by the SPLC for nothing more than subscribing to the teachings of the historic Christian faith. We are a nonprofit ministry whose deeply held Christian convictions energize our mission to faithfully proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

D. James Kennedy Ministries released a documentary last month focused on the SPLC’s work to “demonize” conservative and Christian groups, and offers donors a pamphlet entitled “The Southern Poverty Law Center: Exposed.”

Christian ministries and legal organizations on the SPLC hate map include:

  • Abiding Truth Ministries
  • Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF)
  • American Family Association
  • American Vision
  • Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM)
  • Citizens for Community Values
  • D. James Kennedy Ministries
  • Family Research Council (FRC)
  • Family Research Institute
  • Illinois Family Institute
  • Liberty Counsel
  • Mission: America
  • Pacific Justice Institute
  • Pass the Salt Ministries
  • Pray in Jesus Name Project
  • Ruth Institute
  • Save California
  • Traditional Values Coalition
  • World Congress of Families