Coral Ridge Ministries Media, Inc., a Christian ministry founded by the late D. James Kennedy, has now lost a second round in its legal battle against the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and Amazon.com. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s dismissal of Coral Ridge’s lawsuit in which the ministry alleged it was defamed and suffered religious discrimination after being excluded from the Amazon Smile charitable donation program following its designation as a “hate group” by the SPLC.
The SPLC was originally formed in 1971 to defend the civil rights of African Americans, who were fighting government segregation laws and suing racist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. Those were noble beginnings. The group has since morphed into a fundraising giant using its annual “hate map,” where it identifies organizations it calls “domestic hate groups and other extremists.”
In recent years the organization has adopted LGBT issues as its own and has raised even more funds by hanging its “hate group” label on Christian organizations who believe in and advocate for the biblical definitions of marriage and human sexuality.
In addition to Coral Ridge, other Christian organizations it has branded negatively include: Alliance Defending Freedom; the Family Research Council; the Ruth Institute; Probe Ministries; Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam); World Congress of Families/International Organization for the Family; Liberty Counsel; and the Pacific Justice Institute.
Even the American College of Pediatricians has been designated a “hate group” by the SPLC for taking a position that children with sexual-identity confusion should not be given bodily-disfiguring and life-altering drugs, hormones and surgeries.
The SPLC has come under increasing criticism after a former employee revealed the organization’s own internal problems with racial and gender discrimination. One of its founders, Morris Dees, was fired by the organization.
Yet, Amazon still used SPLC’s “hate map” to deny Coral Ridge any participation in the Amazon Smile program, where shoppers can designate 0.5 % of the purchase price of an item to go to a charitable organization on Amazon’s approved list.
In 2019, a federal district judge dismissed Coral Ridge’s lawsuit for defamation against the SPLC, ruling that the term “hate group” is mere opinion, rather than an allegation of fact, as required under the laws of defamation. The judge also threw out Coral Ridge’s claim against Amazon for unlawful religious discrimination under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, saying the circumstances didn’t fit the requirements of that law. Coral Ridge appealed that decision and has now lost for the second time.
For Christian organizations to be grouped with the KKK and neo-Nazis and racist groups is the ultimate slander against the name of Christ, but that shouldn’t surprise us. As the Apostle Paul reminds us, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you,” John 15:18 (ESV).
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