Michael Farris

Hate group leader Michael Farris of Alliance Defending Freedom believes that his operation has God’s approval.

Via YouTube

Alliance Defending Freedom, the Christianist law firm, is a hate group. If the Southern Poverty Law Center ceased operations tomorrow, ADF would still be a hate group. ADF attacks the SPLC ad hominem leaving a simple question unanswered: What does the SPLC have wrong about ADF? ADF should be thankful. Consider how much money they have probably raised off of the SPLC.

No matter how much ADF twists and turns they are guilty of promoting anti-LGBT inequality and hate. That’s a fact.

Last December, for example, ADF was trying to undermine LGBT rights internationally and specifically at the United Nations. Shortly after that post they took down their highly offensive “I’m human, right?” website. But the hateful content did exist.

Yes, I know. ADF doesn’t really hate LGBT people. This very day they contacted me so that they could send me milk and Oreos. It’s not hate at all. They just want all of us to get reparative therapy. Is that really too much to ask for?

But I digress.

As you might have heard, Arizona has a program allowing private entities to design license plates. When people purchase those plates, $17 goes to the organization and the state keeps $8. ADF’s plate says “In God We Trust.”

When Arizonans purchase the ADF license plate they are told the money promotes the motto, First Amendment rights, “and the heritage of this state and nation.” They are not told that most of the money goes to a hate group. Since 2014, ADF has reaped nearly $900,000.

There is one legitimate concern in my opinion. The state should indicate who is getting money from the sale of license plates. Others have said that there is a potential Establishment Clause violation. But the motto is (unfortunately) on our currency. Others have asserted that the state should not be funding a hate group. I agree but I doubt that banning ADF is legally defensible. ADF will sue, raise countless thousands of dollars off of their victimization and probably win.

As for ADF’s response to all of this, I received an email Saturday titled Trigger warning: license plates ahead. ADF’s writers think that they are far more clever than they actually are. I’m not going to take the bait. Once again ADF claims victimization at the hands of LGBT people and the SPLC which means that people should send them money. “Please give your best gift today to protect your free speech and religious freedom.”

Donors are victims too:

The offense is so great that the group has launched a national media campaign to parrot the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) “hate group” smear of Alliance Defending Freedom. They want to censor and blacklist ADF and people like you who share the belief that free speech and religious freedom must be protected.

What set them off?

An Arizona state license plate that simply says, “In God We Trust.”

None of that is on point. The issue is not the message on the license plate. Rather, people are offended that the state is facilitating the funding of a rabid hate group without people realizing that they are doing so. They can call the SPLC designation a smear but that does not make it so. A smear is an effort to damage someone’s reputation with false allegations. What has the SPLC said about ADF that is false?

And yet, the SPLC has been widely and resoundingly discredited by investigative journalists, charity networking organizations, and commentators because they are activist, partisan, and unreliable. It’s been sued many times for spreading falsehoods about various groups – most often religious and conservative groups. The SPLC even recently paid $3.375 million and issued a public apology to settle a threatened defamation lawsuit by Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz, whom the SPLC falsely labeled an anti-Muslim extremist!

The fact that some Christian conservatives have taken shots at the SPLC does not discredit the organization. That criticism has nothing to do with designating ADF a hate group. If the SPLC is “activist, partisan and unreliable,” as ADF claims, then they should demonstrate that by answering the simple question: What has the SPLC gotten wrong about ADF?

The final sentence of that paragraph is a lie. Nawaz, a citizen and resident of the UK, had no hope in hell of prevailing if he did sue. SPLC came to the conclusion that they were wrong about Nawaz because the SPLC listened to others about Nawaz.

What does any of that have to do with ADF? In fact, ADF has confirmed that the SPLC has a record of correcting its mistakes. If ADF had a legitimate case about an error on the SPLC’s part then they would surely bring that to the public’s attention.

The mistake, by the way, was having agreed to a settlement without a rather standard non disclosure agreement. Nawaz was less than gracious. A class act he is not.

The drivel continues with the usual irrelevancies:

On the other hand, ADF is one of the nation’s most successful and respected advocates at the U.S. Supreme Court. With God’s blessing and your prayers and support, we’ve won nine cases at the high court since 2011. And in 2018, Empirical SCOTUS ranked ADF first among “the top performing firms” litigating First Amendment cases in its Supreme Court All-Stars 2013-2017 list.

I have no idea whether or not that supposed ranking means anything. Nor is it remotely relevant. The fact that ADF has won some cases before a conservative Supreme Court has no relevance whatsoever to whether or not it is an anti-LGBT hate group. ADF is actually — and arrogantly — implying that they have God’s approval for the things it does. Following that logic then the result in Obergefell v. Hodges was according to their god’s desire. Therefore, they should respect the ruling. The God Squad has a tendency to count the hits while ignoring all of the misses.

Overall this is a nearly 1,200 word email and something is missing. The SPLC is quite specific about why ADF is considered a hate group. Not one of the nearly 1,200 words in ADF’s email corrects (or even attempts to correct) anything that the SPLC has said about the organization.

ADF is not only a hate group. It is a deceitful hate group.

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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.