Michael Farris

Hate group leader Michael Farris is attempting to exploit ADF’s hate group designation. Alliance Defending Freedom is designated as an anti-LGBT hate group for good cause. Yet, on Thursday Farris sent out an email titled “Fighting the ‘hate’ label.” Now you might think that their choices are:

  1. Factually dispute the designation as a hate group with Southern Poverty Law Center or;
  2. Mend their ways. 

Instead, they have a different strategy:

  1. Blame the media.
  2. Claim victimization.
  3. Smear and defame SPLC.
  4. Completely fog the issue.
  5. And, of course, ask for money.  

We’re at an all-time low in terms of the public’s trust in major media. …

I do not know whether or not that is true. If so, it is the result of right wing demagoguery and the pathological liar who currently occupies the Oval Office.

Last week, ABC and NBC News showed their true colors when they copied and pasted as fact false charges from the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

Discredited? Only in the minds of people who agree with the hateful anti-LGBT rhetoric of groups like ADF, Family Research Council and Liberty Counsel, to name a few. SPLC is accustomed to this nonsense. They have received it from supporters of the Klan and neo-Nazis.

The outrageous headline, falsely labeling Alliance Defending Freedom a “hate group,” was in response to an appearance by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions at our annual ADF Summit on Religious Liberty.

Media correctly reported that Sessions was addressing what SPLC considers to be a hate group. They are supposed to do that. Outrageous means that Farris doesn’t like the facts. As for Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, he was probably perfectly comfortable. He likely has sheets in his Alabama closet with eye-holes and a mouth-slit.

In his speech, Attorney General Sessions expressed the Trump Administration’s commitment to preserving and protecting religious freedom as our Founding Fathers intended — “that every American has a right to believe, worship, and exercise their faith in the public square.” General Sessions, an outstanding leader with decades of public service, appealed to our tradition of freedom for all, quoting heroes like Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Does that sound like a message of hate to you? Of course not!

First of all, Sessions was speaking to, not for, ADF. More importantly, we might know if Sessions is being quoted accurately if the press had not been excluded. The American people paid for Sessions’ time and expenses to address a private organization. We were foreclosed. Beyond that, nowhere in the Constitution is there expressed any right to “exercise their faith in the public square.” Free Exercise means just that; the right to believe and worship (or not) as one chooses. Free Exercise does not mean the right to harm others by inflicting their religious beliefs onto them.

ADF’s problem is that they frame religious liberty as the right to discriminate against people they disapprove of.

Farris is correct in one sense. In this country we do have a “tradition of freedom for all.” It is unfortunate that ADF does not respect that tradition when it come to gay and trans Americans. Alliance Defending Freedom is a hate group. In the name of Christianity they do harm to LGBT citizens.

Ever since William Jennings Bryan became a special prosecutor in the Scopes trial (1925) we have been subjected to fundamentalist Christian blowhards and demagogues. We keep fighting them off — but they keep coming.

The simple truth is that ADF is one of the most respected and successful Supreme Court advocates in America, having won seven cases at the high court in the last seven years, including a 7-2 win just last month.

Winning Supreme Court cases and the margin of the ruling in Trinity Lutheran is irrelevant to whether or not ADF is a hate group.

The SPLC, however, ignores all of this. They despise that we, and millions of other Americans like you, support marriage between one man and one woman. And they can’t stand that we defend people like Jack Phillips and Barronelle Stutzman, whose sincere religious faith will not allow them to create artistic expression that celebrates same-sex weddings.

Of course SPLC’s determination doesn’t involve any of that. SPLC’s president, Richard Cohen explained it quite succinctly exactly one week ago:

“The Alliance Defending Freedom spreads demonizing lies about the LGBT community in this country and seeks to criminalize it abroad. If the ADF had its way, gay people would be back in the closet for fear of going to jail. It was inappropriate for Attorney General Sessions to lend his credibility to the group by appearing before it, and it was ironic that he would suggest that the rights of ADF sympathizers are under attack when the ADF is doing everything in its power to deny the equal protection of the laws to the LGBT community.”

More about ADF from SPLC can be found here.

So they publically <sic> attack us, vilify us, and falsely label us as a “hate group.” They want to take us out — to marginalize us and to marginalize you.

But the SPLC doesn’t just focus their attention on us. They attack anyone who opposes their leftist agenda. They’ve begun targeting veterans, Catholics, Muslims who oppose terrorism, and even nuns.

The “we are all victims” hula. SPLC hasn’t “attacked” anyone. They have correctly and transparently designated ADF a Hate Group. Nowhere in Farris’ diatribe is there so much as a quote from SPLC’s evaluation of ADF with Farris supplying counterpoint. These are issues of fact — not opinion. If SPLC has the facts wrong then those are easily rebutted.

I will not stand by and let this happen.

The goal of this “hate group” label is simple: silence and shame anyone who disagrees with them. They want to portray a conference dedicated to religious freedom as a sinister gathering of extremists. And they want to discredit ADF and our beliefs about marriage — beliefs that the Supreme Court still recognizes as decent, honorable, and reasonable.

The goal is to get them to stop their hate. It is all pretty simple. ADF is not the Klan. There is no point in putting them out of business. The quite reasonable approach is that ADF can continue to litigate for religious liberty without shaming and marginalizing LGBT people. ADF is doing to LGBT people what they falsely accuse SPLC of doing to them. Shrinks call it “projection.”

Here it comes in stages. Bullshit leading up to asking people to give them money.

That’s why we’ve demanded a retraction from ABC News. That’s why we’ve been forced to spend significant resources and devote countless hours to combatting these baseless charges.

“Significant resources” my ass. If SPLC is as discredited as Farris claims then this is all unnecessary. Sending out some email and paying their PR flack to seed the echo chamber (which they have done quite successfully) is what they do in every circumstance.

That’s why I’m asking for your help.

If you care about the future of religious freedom in America and believe it is worth preserving, please stand with us today.

We will not be silenced. We will not stop protecting religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and marriage and the family. We will not stop serving you and defending our brave clients. And God willing, together, we will not stop winning these important legal battles and making a positive impact on our culture.

Thank you for giving generously.

In truth they are probably quite pleased that the media have accurately quoted SPLC. It has given them a cause for which they can ask for alms for the poor.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.