BreakPoint: When Charity Is Labeled “Hate”

Guidestar and the Southern Poverty Law Center

The culture war has a new front: philanthropic giving. That is, charity. And Christians, once again, are in the crosshairs.

Even if you’ve never heard of Guidestar, trust me, philanthropists are very familiar with the organization. Guidestar’s stated mission is “To revolutionize philanthropy by providing information that advances transparency, enables users to make better decisions, and encourages charitable giving.”

To that end, Guidestar gathers and provides information “about each nonprofit’s mission, legitimacy, impact, reputation, finances, programs, transparency, governance, and so much more.”

For two decades, Guidestar has provided a very valuable service to would-be donors. Recently, however that “so much more” part of their mission statement, temporarily turned the organization into a combatant in the culture wars.

Earlier this year, in addition to their usual financial information, Guidestar also included a banner at the top of the webpage telling potential donors that certain groups had been designated as “hate groups” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, or the SPLC.

Back in 1981 the SPLC started publishing a quarterly report listing groups that, in its words, “have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”

For most of the next 36 years, the groups singled out were obvious racists ones, like the KKK or Nazis, or more subtle ones that the SPLC believed promoted white supremacy.

Then, as Ed Stetzer put it on “BreakPoint This Week,” the SPLC’s focus moved from civil rights to the sexual revolution. In 2010, it listed the Family Research Council as a hate group, and last year, added the Alliance Defending Freedom to the list.

Now calling the FRC a “hate group” is absurd. It doesn’t attack or malign anyone, unless merely holding traditional Christian beliefs on marriage and sexuality somehow constitutes “maligning” or “attacking.”

And if FRC’s inclusion is absurd, ADF’s is, as Chuck Colson liked to say, outrageous. For starters, ADF isn’t even an advocacy group. It’s a legal defense group, the kind of mirror image of the ACLU. If ADF’s defense of Barronelle Stutzman constitutes attacking or maligning gays and lesbians, then why did the ACLU’s defense of Nazis who wished to march in Skokie, Illinois, not constitute a maligning of the town’s Jewish residents?

So I agree with the group of forty-one conservatives who, in a letter to Guidestar protested its use of SPLC designations, saying that “The ‘hate group’ list is nothing more than a political weapon targeting people [the SPLC] deems to be its political enemies.”

And it isn’t only conservatives who are critical of the SPLC. In 2009, left-wing journalist Alexander Cockburn, writing in The Nation, called the “Hate Group” designation a fundraising tool, designed to “[scare] dollars out of the pockets of trembling liberals aghast at his lurid depictions of hate-sodden America.”

Now, the good news is that the controversy over including the designation resulted in Guidestar removing the offending information, as Guidestar put it, “for the time being.”

The bad news is that Guidestar will continue to make “this information available to any user on request.” In other words, it’s still chosen to be a co-belligerent in the culture wars.

But this whole story makes clear that the belief that holding traditional Christian convictions about marriage and sexuality constitutes maligning or attacking others is still very much with us.

What’s happened with Guidestar is a reminder that the battle for religious freedom won’t only, or even primarily, be waged in the courts. That’s not to say that the recent Supreme Court victory in the Trinity Lutheran case wasn’t hugely important. Of course it was. But as Chuck Colson liked to say, influencing the culture, securing our freedoms, will take place over the backyard fence and at barbecues, and maybe even less likely places, like financial websites.


When Charity Is Labeled “Hate”: Guidestar and the Southern Poverty Law Center

John reminds us that our religious freedom is no longer a “given.” Especially in our current culture, believers must pray for wisdom, discernment and boldness as we share the good news of the gospel of Christ.


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  • Phoenix1977

    “Now calling the FRC a “hate group” is absurd. It doesn’t attack or malign anyone, unless merely holding traditional Christian beliefs on marriage and sexuality somehow constitutes “maligning” or “attacking.””
    It’s not just the Southern Poverty Law Center calling the FRC a hate group. Both the European Committee (the executive committee of the European Union) and the Council of Europe (a broader council of 51 countries, including Russia) has branded the FRC a hate group, thereby freezing it’s European assets and closing the European Union for any person associated with the FRC. It also means universities (or other science organisations) and NGO’s are no longer eligable for EU grants if working with (or supporting) FRC, which is not limited to grants given by the EU itself but also all 27 memberstates.
    So I guess more people agree the Family Research Council does attack and malign LGBTs. And, truth be told, LGBTs themselves definately feel that way towards the FRC, wherever in the world.

    • Just one of many voices

      I’m just curious, can you point out anything FRC has done or said that is–by all definitions–hateful, malignant, or attacks or malignant?

      Does mere disagreement with another’s faith or worldview constitute hate?

      • Scott

        I would like to know the answer to these questions as well?


    The SPLC is a typical “Left-Wing” propagandist group. “Left-Wing” groups regularly defame, lie, and slander groups and people who do not agree with their positions, views, or agendas. It is an attempt to silence those who disagree with them, their positions, and agendas. Contrast this with groups that are “Right-Wing” who if you disagree with them will simply state they disagree and explain why they disagree without any name calling. Of course one has to be aware of ideologues who exist all over the place.

    This is also why “Left-Wing” groups tend to call other “Left-Wing” groups “Right-Wing” since they don’t like them or agree with them. The classic example is National Socialist who are as “Left-Wing” as any International Socialist. Both groups support and promote the concept of “Supremacy of the State and Supremacy of those in control of the State”. But historically the National Socialist have tended to be more honest about their intentions and the other “Left-Wing” groups do not like that since it gives exposures to the agendas that they don’t want people to think about. The groups are simply different sides of the same coin and often use different techniques to achieve the same goals.

    People should also not use terms such as “gays”, “lesbians”, and “homosexual” when discussing deviant same-sex/gender behaviors. These words are used to obscure the issues related to the deviant behaviors people have chosen to engage in. The historical and more appropriate terms that should be used are “sodomy”, “sodomite”, and “sodomize”. People pretend they are born with what is a effectively a different gender to justify the behavior they have chosen to engage in. For a person to claim they were born with the behavior is the same as claiming a women was born a slut (or promiscuous). And the words homosexual and heterosexual were created in the 1890s to describe sexual attractions which can be programmed into a person – think of Pavlov’s dog.

    Accuracy is something that is always needed when discussing these issues. And using the proper words that convey the real meanings versus words that the “Left” and others have distorted is important.

  • jason taylor

    Well there are lots of groups that malign entire groups of people including in fact everybody present. But holding traditional convictions about marriage is not maligning peoples immutable characteristics as it has said nothing against same sex attracted people who are as celibate as-me.

    What I am wondering, Phoenix is why you get so worked up about the fact that someone else calls something you do a sin? Quakers call war a sin and therefore presumably call watching war movies so. I watch war movies. I would not watch them around a Quaker, I also would not be insulted at him thinking me a sinner. A Hasidim would think me not so much a sinner precisely so much as Unclean for being a Goy. He is not thereby bound to modify his public or private behavior for me and I really do not mind as I am in fact a Goy and as I like bacon, ham, and shrimp and other things as well as not having two refrigerators it is not without advantage. As for homosexuality, I call it a sin, I would still call it a sin if it was otherwise respectable, to everyone else; I call gay marriage a bad joke and I see no reason why most of the concrete benefits for marriage cannot be provided by other legal arrangements if that is all it about. I also think there is no reason that people who must needs insist on homosexual behavior cannot continue doing so without checking up on me or checking up on the government, or checking up on the rest of society. In any case gay marriage or whatever it is to be called is a political problem to be negotiated. I also think heterosexual monogamy should dominate society, and that there are good pragmatic benefits to this such as having regular reproduction with a parent of both sexes, giving as many people as possible a sexual and relational partner, and decreasing the number of irresponsible males who will use their natural assertiveness to counterproductive ends.

    My point basically is why are my scruples or philosophical convictions so important to you that you should be angry at them? I am not advocating for sodomy laws or mob violence or terrorism, nor do I intend to bother you about your personal behavior or even ask you about your personal behavior. The fact is your personal behavior does not bother me as I have no intention of watching it. What does bother me is your insistence that religious people should not have freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of property, or freedom of peaceable assembly simply because they are religious like the majority of the people in the world.

    • Scott

      This is a very good post jason! I think Phoenix is angry because of the abuse he suffered at the hands of Christians. He is an atheist so his desire for revenge is perhaps stronger than yours or mine. When he says things like “the best defense is a good offense,” that gives us a clue about the why. Pheonix please note I used the word “think,” you are free to correct me if I am wrong about this. : )

      I think the majority of Christians feel the same way as you. One thing we can do is speak up more… and speak out against Christians who commit the acts that drive people like Phoenix to feel the way they do about us. I believe that Jesus wants us to reach out (with agape love and not the opposite) to the lost so that they may know Him. If we all were to make an effort in this direction showing such love rather than hate… I imagine that would make a big difference.

      There is great evil as well as good in the world and Christians are not immune to either.

      • Phoenix1977

        No, like I just told Jason, I’m angry because somehow Christians always feel the need to preach to people who disagree with them. Because Christians somehow think they are special and privileged and above the law. They are not and every time they act like they are we will take them to court. And so far all we have lost were some minor battles.

        • jason taylor

          Christians think themselves special and privileged and above the law because they feel they have a right to do what they wish with their own property, Phoenix? That is not being above the law that is appealing to the law. It is gays who are trying to be above the law by virtue of being the Officially Oppressed Group. Christians feel the need to preach to people who disagree with them-well yes but why do you feel the need to listen, or to preach back? Or more to the point why do you feel the need to cry to Big Brother just because someone says something you don’t like? People say things to me all the time that I don’t like; enduring it is part of life. Preaching is a thing done, everybody does it to everyone else and I have heard more then enough preaching to me for my various eccentricities including being a Christian, without me claiming the right to decide whether or not someone can bake a cake for me.

          Scott and Phoenix, corporate revenge is not a legal right in this country or was not intended to be and if Phoenix is disappointed with that he can move to Albania. And for the record everybody has something to take vengeance for if you go back far enough. Mr Cakemaker did not do anything personally to Phoenix that I am aware of and come to think of it the only thing I did was spar with him reasonably fairly in a net forum.

          • Phoenix1977

            Why is it you don’t understand you have no claim on private property anymore once you open a public business on that property? If you want to keep your property private, keep it private and don;t open a business on it. It’s not that difficult.

            “enduring it is part of life.”
            But why would I endure it if I can put a stop to it? Why on earth would I suffer if I don’t have to? If you want to suffer needlessly, be my guest. But I won’t.

            For the record, I’m not American not do I live in the US. I only visit it frequently, most of the time for work. I’m from the Netherlands (small country in Europe), the first country in modern times to legalize same-sex marriage. In my country there is no such thing as unlimited religious freedom. Religion is banned from the public square and no one can opt out of anything using their religion as an excuse.
            LGBTs unofficially decided to stick together so when a baker or a florist or a county clerk discriminates against a gay couple we take it as a personal offense against us all. So yes, Jack Phillips DID do something personal to me, just as Baronelle Stutzman and Kim Davis.

          • Steve

            Since you are not an American and clearly don’t live in a country that enshrines religious freedom as a right, your viewpoint is less than useful on these topics. I am sorry that you look at yourself as a group (LGBT) rather than an individual.

          • Phoenix1977

            And you wonder why LGBTs have no intention anymore in discussing things with Christians? Instead of coming with well-based argument you simply dismiss someone for a reason that has nothing to do with the discussion. Now I could say quite a bit about such behaviour but I don’t want to cause Gina a migrain (and me to be banned). Let’s just say I think it’s quite a weak respons.

          • Gina Dalfonzo

            Gina thanks you. 🙂

          • Just one of many voices

            You at least deserve a thanks for sharing more about where you come from. It helps a LOT in understanding others’ points of view.

        • jason taylor

          Or to put it another way, Phoenix, the sin you are trying to justify is not, “Thou shalt not lie with a man as with a woman it is an abomination”. That is a tangent. The sin you are trying to justify is, “Thou shalt not steal”.

          • Phoenix1977

            I don’t have to justify any sin. I;m not a Christian and therefor don’t consider myself a sinner. It’s as easy as that.

        • Scott

          Okay, but your view of what the law should be would marginalize/suppress/discount all religious believers. Those of us who disagree with you aren’t preaching so much as explaining our point of view.

          If all you say is true, then you are akin to the likes of a tyrant that would see his subjects obey or else. Your unwillingness to compromise makes your voice less credible and in the end less audible to those who challenge your views.

          You are unwilling to see that Christian (Biblical) marriage and same-sex marriage are two completely different “products” (if we are to treat them as consumer goods)… and businesses have the right to sell different products. Unwilling to see that another human being (different than yourself) has the right to protest something she believes to be wrong without affecting her ability to earn a living. Unwilling to see that your point of view is based on YOUR set of BELIEFS just the same as the Christian. Your beliefs are no more valid than ours…

          You say: “Christians somehow think they are special and privileged and above the law.” This statement is simply not true. Your side changed the laws regarding marriage in the first place. I think your statement better applies to your side. I have a brilliant idea… since you define marriage differently than we do, lets agree to the fact that they are different and not force either to obey the other. Giving us the right to refuse. Lets base our laws around that idea… or we could continue to fight and see where that goes.

          If you cannot agree such an idea than I question your motives?

    • Just one of many voices

      Wow! Extremely well put!

    • Phoenix1977

      “why you get so worked up about the fact that someone else calls something you do a sin?”
      I’m not getting worked up about what you or other people call me. As a gay man one develops a thick skin. What I do get worked up about is you assuming your religion gets you a “get-out-of-jail-free” card. The law applies to everyone, including those adhering to a religion and it’s way past time religious people acknowledge that. “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s …” and more like that?

      “I see no reason why most of the concrete benefits for marriage cannot be provided by other legal arrangements if that is all it about.”
      Well, there are numerous reasons for that, to be honest. One of them is those legal arrangements you mention would require a constant battle among all 50 states with all kinds of compromises and a pretty big mess of all kinds of different rules and laws creating inequality between states, not to mention countless opportunities for conservatives to derail the progress made and the equally countless possibilities to have those legal arrangements tied in the courts for decades.
      Another reason is the fact “marriage” is not a religious ritual in origin but a legal issue hijacked by the church to, once again, give power to the church over people. If anyone should find a new ritual it’s the churches, not the people.
      But, and that is the most important one, because we don’t want to. We have no interest in a similar but not quite the same status. We want equality. No, we demand equality. And, since June 26th 2015, we HAVE equality. After all, “seperate but equal is not equal at all” according to the United States Supreme Court.

      “In any case gay marriage or whatever it is to be called is a political problem to be negotiated.”
      We have tried negotiating and it failed miserably. Everytime the LGBT community thought they accomplished any kind of progress with (religious) conservatives we were proven wrong. Conservatives had no interest in letting us live our lives the way we saw fit. Every single time conservatives turned us down and kicked us while we were down. But conservatives overplayed their hand and kicked us once too many. Now we don’t ask or negotiate, we demand and take what is ours to have in the first place. Thanks the generations before us for their hard work molding today’s LGBT community.

      “why are my scruples or philosophical convictions so important to you that you should be angry at them?”
      Because I’m sick and tired of people like you constantly preaching! Keep your religion to yourselves and leave others alone. Get of that sickening moral high horse. You’re no better than me nor will you ever be. You’re not special for believing in something. And as long as you see yourself as special and privileged and demand others to accept you as special, with the strange notion the laws apply to everyone except you we will keep seeing you in court. Because we will never again back down like we did in the past.

  • Just one of many voices

    So, according to your “if” statement, then respectful disagreement is now equal to hateful lobbying of taking away one’s right to live his/her life?

    Yeah, that would be hateful for sure. But why do I feel like we’re stretching the meaning here? I will give mercy, because I recall you saying at one point that English is not your first language. But man…try to work on not lumping two extremes together.

    Again, respectful disagreement & standing up for one’s beliefs, versus demanding & forcing another to comply with said beliefs are VERY different.

    Scott has said it well before. It’s all about balancing one’s rights.

    I’ll ask one more time: can you give a distinct example of where FRC has lobbied to take away one’s right to live? Where they have demanded or tried to force others to comply?

    Okay, I’ve edited this so many times now. I’m over it.

    • Phoenix1977

      If “respectful” is your key word here you have given your own answer to your question why the FRC is rightfully labeled hateful.

      • Just one of many voices

        So, respectful disagreement is hatred? Wow, I’m sorry that’s how you see things. I don’t know what to say.

        • Phoenix1977

          There is nothing respectful about organisations like the FRC or NOM. There is nothing respectful about denying people the right to live their own lives. In fact, isn’t that what Christians are fighting right now? The fact they are being denied to live their lives as they see fit? Isn’t much fun when you are on the receiving end, is it?

          • Just one of many voices

            Sorry man, I’m out. You have a very convenient way of dodging questions & changing micro-subjects.

            You never gave me a distinct example. You never answered my question specifically about respectful disagreement being equal to hatred.

            I’m out. Next topic.

          • Phoenix1977

            You want one example. Fine.
            In their amicus brief in 2003 in the case Lawrence vs. Texas, which ultimately led to the ruling which made all anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional, the FRC stated homosexuality was an evil entity which should be stopped by any means necessary, even criminal prosecution and long term prison sentences if homosexuals refused to see the error of their ways.

            That hateful enough?

  • Scott

    But that is just it. We have to separate those who hate from those who do not. Conflicting beliefs/ideologies do not = hate.

    What specifically has the FRC done that constitutes as hateful, malignant or attacking?

    • Phoenix1977

      The FRC opposes equal rights. What more evidence of hatred and malignancy do you want?

  • Scott

    Please explain why you think FRC is “lobbying to have people their basic human right to live their lives denied?”

    I’m not sure what you mean by this?

  • gladys1071

    I think as Christians we need our attitude to be like what is described in this article if you get a chance read the attached link:

    I read this last night and I could not agree more.

    • Just one of many voices

      Wow that is rich! Thanks for sharing! I like how often he references scripture, his thoughts about not idolizing political parties, being grace-centered & love-centered, etc. There’s a lot packed in there.

      Like you, I couldn’t agree more. I pray that’s the attitude people sense from me every day, online & offline. The attitude explained in Philippians 2:5-8, which he almost referenced, but not quite.

      • gladys1071

        Yes that is how i try to live. If you read the whole thing to the bottom, he says a lot of not trying to change the culture or force the culture to conform to Christian beliefs, or use government to legislate our beliefs.

        • Scott

          That was an excellent article… thanks for sharing gladys1017!

  • Phoenix1977

    “First of all, I do not know why anyone would want to get married in Disney World! : – )”
    You should never say something like that to a Disney fanatic like me 🙂

    “If you are speaking of Roman law?”
    I prefer the Greek period: less slavery and other social injustice. And the are and medicine were better.

    “”Except, in the eyes of the law, there are no 2 different types of marriages.” This law could change again, who knows?”
    Highly unlikely. Who would have to change the law? Politicians? Not as long as the LGBT community has the support of Big Business. Even your current president stated marriage equality is a settled case and America should better get used to it. And, as I said quite a few times now, in the past 20 years the courts have never sided against LGBT rights. Not once. And in it’s current setting there is still a 5 to 4 majority in favor of LGBT rights at the Supreme Court and Neil Gorsuch also never ruled against LGBT rights in his entire career as a judge. And with a growing majority of Americans now supporting same-sex marriage and LGBT rights it’s most unlikely LGBT rights will be reversed.

    So, again, we are winning and we will keep winning for the foreseeable future. We now have just as much reason to compromise as Christians did 50 years ago. Except the LGBT community has quite a bone left to pick with the former Christian majority.

    • Scott

      “You should never say something like that to a Disney fanatic like me :-)”

      Many apologies! FWIW I am an artist and grew up appreciating Disney animation. I’m just not a fan of large theme parks… same as shopping malls. : )

      I think (maybe this is more hope) that Christians are starting to wake up and realize how they have erred. Hate is not Christian and as one I do not condone hateful acts. Jesus taught us much about how to live our lives out of love… we just didn’t learn very well. : /

      I will defend equality for all… and that means for Christians as well. So we might continue to disagree on anything that marginalizes my faith, but I am willing to fight for the same rights for LGBTs. There just has to be room for difference… because all people are.

      • Phoenix1977

        “I am an artist and grew up appreciating Disney animation. I’m just not a fan of large theme parks… same as shopping malls. : )”
        I agree with the shopping malls. I felt lost when I was in one in Las Vegas 🙂 But I will never get tired of the magical feeling when entering a Disney park.

        “There just has to be room for difference… because all people are.”
        Like I said, I don’t see it happening. But I wouldn’t mind being proven wrong.

        • Scott

          “There just has to be room for difference… because all people are.”
          Like I said, I don’t see it happening. But I wouldn’t mind being proven wrong.

          That’s the spirit! : – )