Charity Watchdog GuideStar Labels Christian Non-Profits as “Hate-Groups”
NEW YORK July 7 (C-Fam) The non-profit law firm Liberty Counsel is suing the non-profit monitoring group GuideStar in federal court for defamation. At issue is GuideStar’s use of the “hate-list” published annually by the Southern Poverty Law Center that in recent years has targeted Christian groups it disagrees with on public policy.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) believes that groups opposing homosexual marriage and gender confusion, usually based on religious but also scientific belief, are actually violent hate groups similar to the KKK and the Aryan Nation. Mainstream groups such as Alliance Defending Freedom and Family Research Council are on the SPLC hate-list, as is C-Fam (publisher of the Friday Fax). SPLC has made it clear it is in the business of “destroying” the Christian groups it targets, says Mark Potok of SPLC.
Therefore, it was of great concern when GuideStar began using the SPLC hate-list to further target Christian groups on its web database. Up until recently, GuideStar was considered thoroughly non-partisan where donors, reporters and others could access the tax returns of any non-profit registered in the United States. This would allow them to find out how much money any particular group raises, how much they spend on fundraising, programs, and how much top management is paid.
Last month, Family Research Council, Alliance Defending Freedom and other similar groups woke up to find that GuideStar had placed an SPLC hate-list warning across the top of their GuideStar pages, making it the very first thing any prospective donor would see when they went to the page.
An immediate backlash ensued. Private meetings were held with GuideStar CEO Jacob Harold, who in his career has been a left-wing activist and was pictured earlier this year at the pro-abortion, anti-Trump march for women. Critical op-eds were published including in the Wall Street Journal, Philanthropy Roundtable, The Federalist, MercatorNet and many other outlets.
And a lawsuit was filed by Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel who charges that GuideStar defamed his group by naming it a “hate group.”
Christian groups have been reluctant to sue SPLC primarily because the group sits on a mountain of cash — $351 million — and raised upwards of $50 million every year from alarmist direct mail saying hate-groups are a real and present danger to America, something that is questioned by authentic scholars and law enforcement. SPLC also has a few hundred lawyers on hand.
GuideStar is not so well protected financially. It has only a few million in the bank and raising less than $13 million a year. Moreover, GuideStar has a reputation to protect, unlike SPLC which is seen for what it is, a partisan group working to destroy its political opponents.
Within a few weeks of placing the SPLC announcement on the GuideStar page of these Christian groups, CEO Harold issued a statement that GuideStar was backing off, at least for now. The SPLC announcement has been removed from the GuideStar listing of all 46 targeted Christian groups, though Harold has left open the possibility they might return.
In the meantime, the Liberty Counsel lawsuit has been filed and LC chief Mathew Staver shows no sign of backing off. Additionally, a moderate Muslim has announced a lawsuit against SPLC for labeling him an anti-Muslim hater.