Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., has been schooled by one of the nation’s most influential religious liberties organizations for “conflating” real “hate” organizations such as the KKK with mainstream religion after he referenced the Alliance Defending Freedom in those terms.
Michael Farris, president and general counsel for ADF, released a statement after Franken, whose qualifications for the U.S. Senate seat he holds mainly come from writing and performing stand-up comedy, blasted ADF indirectly in his criticism of one of President Trump’s judicial nominees.
The Washington Times reported the senator’s mistake arose when he lobbed a charge at Amy Coney Barrett, a nominee for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Franken complained that her decision to speak at an event sponsored by ADF makes her unfit to sit on a federal appeals court, because of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s listing of ADF as a “hate” organization.
It’s just one of the ways the minority Democrats tried to delay the appointment of Trump’s nominees to the judiciary.
They previously got stung badly when they opposed the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, prompting the Republicans to trigger the “nuclear option,” just as Democrats had done several years earlier, allowing a simple majority to decide whether or not to hold a floor vote.
Barrett, who has spent most of her career as a law professor at Notre Dame, said she hadn’t been aware of any controversy surrounding ADF.
“I had no reason to think it was a hate group and that was certainly not my experience,” she told Franken.
Farris said it’s “deeply regrettable that Sen. Franken is misinformed about our work on behalf of religious freedom, something so ‘extreme’ that even seven justices of the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with our position three months ago in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer.”
“There is a real danger of conflating genuine hate groups, like the Ku Klux Klan, with mainstream religious beliefs that are shared by millions of Americans and people from all walks of life across the world. As a member of Congress, Sen. Franken needs to fact-check before parroting discredited attacks by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a once-proud civil rights organization that is now a left-wing smear machine known to incite violence,” he said.
“Alliance Defending Freedom is the largest religious liberty legal advocacy organization in the world and advocates for the freedom of all people – including Sen. Franken’s constituents – to peacefully live, speak, and work consistently with their convictions without fear of government punishment,” Farris said.
WND reported in 2010 that when the Minnesota secretary of state, Mark Ritchie, found that Franken had beaten incumbent Norm Coleman by a razor-thin margin, Ritchie had been listed by the Communist Party USA as an official “friend.”
The CPUSA said in a document: “Mark Ritchie, a non-party friend, executive director of the Minneapolis-based Institute on Trade and Agricultural Policy, had chaired the farm-agriculture rally of over 5,000 people in Seattle. He opened our meeting with a report on Seattle and gave us an in-depth analysis of the current farm crisis. He spent the entire morning session with us.”
According to records, however, at least 341 convicted felons voted in Hennepin County, where Minneapolis is located, and another 52 voted illegally in Ramsey County, home to St. Paul.
“The number of felons voting in those two counties alone exceeds … Franken’s victory margin,” the organization reported.
SPLC declined to respond to a Times request for comment, simply referencing its claim that ADF spreads “known falsehoods about LGBT people.”
However, SPLC has been facing headwinds lately.
The signers included L. Brent Bozell III of the Media Research Center, Edwin Meese III of the Heritage Foundation, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William Boykin of the Family Research Council, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel and Michael Farris of Alliance Defending Freedom.
Their message to establishment media: Stop using the “hit pieces” from the Southern Poverty Law Center in your reporting.
Several conservative organizations, including the D. James Kennedy Ministries and Liberty Counsel, have gone to court over SPLC’s “hate” designation.
SPLC also has been linked to domestic terror, in the attack by Floyd Corkins on FRC headquarters in Washington, and the recent attempt by James Hodgkinson to assassinate Rep. Steve Scalise and other Republicans.
SPLC had slammed Scalise for his political views, and Hodgkinson had “liked” the SPLC on Facebook.
Other individuals and organizations who have signed the letter to media regarding SPLC include Frank Gaffney and Clare Lopez of the Center for Security Policy, Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute, Frank Wright of D. James Kennedy Ministries, Scott Walter of the Capital Research Center, David Barton of WallBuilders, David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center, Martin Mawyer of the Christian Action Network, Tim Wildmon and Sand Rios of the American Family Association, and Joseph Farah, founder and CEO of WND.com
An announcement about the letter explains SPLC “has recklessly labeled dozens of mainstream conservative organizations as ‘hate groups.'”
The letter states: “We are writing to you as individuals or as representatives of organizations who are deeply troubled by several recent examples of the media’s use of data from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The SPLC is a discredited, left-wing, political activist organization that seeks to silence its political opponents with a ‘hate group’ label of its own invention and application that is not only false and defamatory, but that also endangers the lives of those targeted with it.”
It was in June when SPLC supporter James Hodgkinson shot Scalise, R-La.; Zach Barth, a staff member for Rep. Roger Williams; former congressional staff member Matt Mika; and two U.S. Capitol Police officers at a practice for a charity baseball game.
SPLC had demonized Scalise for promoting white supremacy and inferred “that Rep. Scalise is a so-called ‘hater.'”
The FRC attacker, Corkins, cited SPLC as his inspiration for his going to the Washington offices of the Family Research Council, armed with a gun, intending to kill as many people as he could. He was stopped by a security guard, who was injured.
SPLC has been so extreme it also got into trouble with the Disciplinary Counsel in the Office of the General Counsel of the Department of Justice under President Obama.
There, SPLC lawyers were sharply rebuked and reprimanded for employing its “hate group” on a conservative advocacy group. The counsel stated that using SPLC’s map “overstepped the bounds of zealous advocacy and was unprofessional.” It continued that such behavior is “uncivil” and “constitutes frivolous behavior and does not aid the administration of justice.”
Just days ago, talk-radio superstar Rush Limbaugh criticized SPLC as “perhaps one of the biggest hate groups on the left.”
“They tar and feather and slander right-wing groups and call them hate groups,” he said. “They’ve got a map on their website, and whenever a right-wing group that says or does anything that the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is a bunch of leftist freaks, all you have to do is disagree with them and you are called a hater.”
The new letter explains: “We believe the media outlets that have cited the SPLC in recent days have not intended to target mainstream political groups for violent attack, but by recklessly linking the Charlottesville melee to the mainstream groups named on the SPLC website – those that advocate in the courts, the halls of Congress, and the press for the protection of conventional, Judeo-Christian values – we are left to wonder if another Floyd Lee Corkins will soon be incited to violence by this incendiary information.”
It continued: “To associate public interest law firms and think tanks with neo-Nazis and the KKK is unconscionable, and it represents the height of irresponsible journalism to do so. All reputable news organizations should immediately stop using the SPLC descriptions of individuals and organizations based on the SPLC’s obvious political prejudices.”
The letter charges: “The SPLC is an attack dog of the political left. … [It] has realized the profitability of defamation, churning out fundraising letters, and publishing ‘hit pieces’ on conservatives to promote its agenda and pad its substantial endowment (of $319 million). Anyone who opposes them, including many Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and traditional conservatives is slandered and slapped with the ‘extremist’ label or even worse, their ‘hate group’ designation.
“At one point, the SPLC even added Dr. Ben Carson to its ‘extremist’ list because of his biblical views (and only took him off the list after public outcry).”
The letter points out the experts who share these concerns.
“Laird Wilcox, one of America’s foremost genuine experts on political extremist organizations, has said of the SPLC: ‘What they do is a kind of bullying and stalking. They pick people who are vulnerable in terms of public opinion and simply destroy them.'”
The Army disassociated from SPLC materials, and the FBI removed the SPLC from a list of trusted resources on its “Hate Crimes” page.
“We wonder,” the letter said, “how the media would react if a corresponding situation arose on the center-right of the political spectrum. For example, let’s assume that congressional debate were raging as to whether or not taxpayers should continue to fund Planned Parenthood, which receives about $500 million a year from Congress. If a national pro-life advocacy organization were to release a map with caricatures of abortionists and title it, ‘Here’s Where the Baby Killers are Located in Your State,’ would the media run the story? Would it reprint the map and discuss the location of these ‘pro-death’ doctors throughout the news day? Clearly, it would not.”
SPLC’s agenda also has been criticized as “incredible” by Rev. Franklin Graham, CEO and president of both Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
“A hate group? Can you believe this – the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., has labeled a number of Christian groups such as D. James Kennedy Ministries, and the Family Research Council run by my good friend Tony Perkins as ‘hate’ groups. Why?” he wrote on a Facebook post.
Me Here.....Is the Southern Poverty Law Center replacing the KKK as the strong arm thug of the Democrat Party? It is beginning to look that way.
Senator Franken is an election THIEF! His first election was a very clear case of outright theft. He has no business being in the Senate. But as a Democrat, he has no shame or ethics. I guess that is why he is a Democrat.
Franken, if you had one iota of honor you would have resigned years ago.