Lawsuit filed against SPLC for ministry's placement on 'hate' group list
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A Christian media ministry has filed a defamation lawsuit against the Southern Poverty Law Center, Amazon and GuideStar USA Inc. for labeling their organization as a 'hate' group.
According to a release from D. James Kennedy Ministries (DJKM), the lawsuit alleges the and GuideStar USA, INC. conspired to create false and misleading information about the services offered by the ministry.
The suit further alleges the false information subjected the ministry to "disgrace, ridicule, odium, and contempt in the estimation of the public".
The suit also states that the basis for SPCL's declaration of the ministry as a 'hate' group is that the ministry espouses and supports biblical morals and principals concerning human sexuality.
DJKM also named GuideStar USA, INC., Amazon.com and the AmazonSmile Foundation, INC. in the lawsuit.
The AmazonSmile Foundation assists Amazon shoppers who wish to support their favorite charitable organization by shopping on smile.Amazon.com. A portion of the purchase is then donated to the organization, according to Amazon.
The lawsuit indicates DJKM tried to register its ministry with the AmazonSmile Foundation and after experiencing issues registering were told, "We rely on the Southern Poverty Law Center to determine which charities are in ineligible categories," The foundation was then told that the ministry had been placed on SPLC's list of hate groups and was ineligible to register.
"We embarked today on a journey to right a terrible wrong. Those who knowingly label Christian ministries as 'hate' groups, solely for subscribing to the historic Christian faith, are either woefully uninformed or willfully deceitful. In the case of the Southern Poverty Law Center, our lawsuit alleges the latter," In a statement released on Wednesday, President and CEO Dr. Frank Wright said, "These false and illegal characterizations have a chilling effect on the free exercise of religion and on religious free speech for all people of faith. After having given the SPLC an opportunity to retract, we have undertaken this legal action, seeking a trial by a jury of our peers, to preserve our own rights under the law and to defend the religious free speech rights of all Americans."
SPLC President Richard Cohen released the following statement regarding the lawsuit:
"Coral Ridge Ministries' lawsuit against us is meritless. We list the D. James Kennedy Ministries through which Coral Ridge does business as a hate group because it maligns the entire LGBT community, portraying it as perverted and a threat to the nation. The fact that Coral Ridge claims its statements about the LGBT community are biblically based doesn't immunize it from criticism. We have a First Amendment right to express our opinions, just as Coral Ridge has a right to express its opinions."
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