Wow. That's about all I can say. I'm almost speechless. I'm certainly disheartened.
I sat down this evening and saw this article on Yahoo News, about how Chick-Fil-A in fact did not flip-flop on their commitment to financially support pro-marriage organizations. Earlier this week a Chicago Alderman claimed that Chick-Fil-A had told him that they would no longer support antigay organizations. This was greatly disheartening to me, as I saw it as a colossal defeat for the freedom of speech. Needless to say, I was happy to hear that the restaurant company in fact did not make such a statement, and is continuing to support the same organizations it always has. (Which makes me wonder what the alderman was doing - he clearly knew that Chick-Fil-A did not make such a statement committing to not support "antigay" charities. Was he trying to discredit them in the media?)
Anyway, my speechlessness came not from the news about Chick-Fil-A, but from this line in the article, as it delineated Chick-Fil-A's support of the Family Research Council: "The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the Family Research Council as a 'hate group,' as displayed on the group's 'hate map.'"
"Southern Poverty Law Center? Hate map? What are these?" I wondered. I followed the links and was absolutely flabbergasted by what I saw. According to their website, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is "a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society." OK, fine. But I really wanted to see this "hate map" and know why the Family Research Council was considered a "hate group."
On the left hand side of the site there's a link for the Hate Map. I followed it and was brought to the map you see below. The numbers on each state are representative of the amount of those groups the SPLC considers to be hate groups. Living in Minnesota, I noticed that our state has 12 of those groups. I clicked on our state to find out who they were.
fringe religious groups - groups that are certainly worthy of the label "hate group." In fact, most of them would probably brag about their hatred for a certain segment of the population, be it white, black, Jewish, etc.
Included with neo-Nazis, white supremacist groups, black supremacist groups, and the like, are "anti-gay" groups as well. These groups are essentially evangelical Christian organizations. There are two "anti-gay hate groups" in Minnesota. One is You Can Run but You Cannot Hide, a ministry that I have financially supported in the past. (I have discontinued my support of this organization mostly for political reasons, not because of theological reasons. They are also very hard-lined "King James Only" people, which is a view of scripture that I do not support. I can guarantee, however, that this ministry is not "anti-gay" - at least in the sense that the SPLC declares - nor are they hateful.)
The other Minnesota organization listed as being an "anti-gay hate group" by the SPLC is the Parents Action League, a group of parents in the Anoka-Hennepin school district. Their website defines their identity as "citizens of Anoka-Hennepin School District 11 who want to ensure that our schools remain focused on core academics and that parental rights are respected and upheld in the school environment." Yeah, that sounds pretty hateful.
If you click on other states, you'll find groups that the SPLC defines as "generally hateful." Some of them are churches and Jewish organizations.
What is most concerning to me is that the SPLC associates Christian groups (and non-Christian groups) that support the traditional understanding of marriage with neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups. To them, there is no distinction between a Christian who is against the legalization of gay marriage and a white supremacist who wants to annihilate a whole race of people.
Really? I mean, REALLY? Christians who support the traditional understanding of marriage are on par with white supremacists, black separatists, and neo-Nazis? REALLY?
This is truly frightening for anyone who names the name of Christ. I've known that Christians have been labeled as hateful and bigoted over this issue before (I've posted about this before here and here), but this is the first time I've ever seen Christians equated with racist groups. Take note, Christians: you will be increasingly labeled as hate mongers and compared to neo-Nazis and white supremacists. You will be ostracized from public positions and your voice in the public square and market place of ideas will be increasingly silenced. Your right to the free practice of your religion and to speak freely without fear of reproach is being slowly eroded away. The SPLC is only the tip of the iceberg. There is more coming.
"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you." -Jesus