A protest outside the headquarters of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala. last Tuesday put the spotlight on a clash of views between the center and a coalition of African-American pastors and their supporters.
Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH), which is led by its president, Peter LaBarbera, spearheaded the press event. It was called to “protest the SPLC’s smearing of pro-family groups that oppose homosexual activism as ‘hate groups.’” Others in the coalition were described as “pro-family Christian and Jewish leaders.”
The SPLC lists AFTAH as an anti-gay hate group. A blogpost on its website (www.splc.org) offered the center’s view of the protest under the headline “Anti-Gay Groups Protest SPLC with Claims of Hate and Intolerance”. The posting noted about a dozen African-American pastors participated.
In his pitch for the protest, LaBarbera said, “It’s a shame that an organization which once supported the noble vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would, today, engage in anti-Christian bigotry of a kind MLK would have, no doubt, detested. What’s most troubling is that there are actually law enforcement agencies around the country that still use the SPLC’s ‘hate group’ resources.”
In response to the accusations that the SPLC is wrongly labeling organizations as “anti-gay hate groups,” Mark Potok, editor of the SPLC ’s Intelligence Report, says they’re labeled as such because that’s what they are.
“Our listing of anti-gay hate groups is completely unrelated to religion, Christianity or the Bible,” Potok said. “These groups are listed because they repeatedly lie in an effort to defame LGBT people, an exercise they’ve been extraordinarily successful at. The idea that we are criticizing these groups because they represent Judeo-Christian morality is simply ludicrous.”