Are the Family Research Council and the Values Voter Summit 'hate groups'?
'Donald Trump to speak at hate group's annual event' ran the headline on Newsweek's report ahead of the US President's address last Friday.
Before we delve deeper, the basic facts are the Family Research Council hosted the Values Voter Summit, as it has annually since its inception in 2006, and Donald Trump became the first sitting President to speak at the conference.
The term 'hate group' originates with the liberal-leaning Southern Poverty Law Center's 'hate group list' which includes the Klu Klux Klan and neo-Nazi organisations such as Aryan Nation, a white supremacist and antisemitic group.
Also on the list are a number of conservative Christian charities including D James Kennedy Ministries (DJMK), a Florida-based conservative TV ministry that opposes gay marriage and Islam, and the Family Research Council.
What these outfits have in common is, largely, their opposition to same-sex marriage.
The SPLC says its criteria for including groups on its 'hate list' is vilifying 'others because of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity'.
It says: 'The Southern Poverty Law Center defines a hate group as an organization that – based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities – has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.'
Jerry Boykin, vice president of the Family Research Council, has mocked the SPLC for being the 'attack dog of the Left' and said: 'They are not a neutral arbiter that is calling balls and strikes.
'They are on the field playing, pushing an agenda, and anyone who opposes them is slandered and slapped with a hate label.'
Arguably the SPLC's decision to include conservative Christian groups on its list has undermined what could have been a powerful tool. Now the term 'hate group' is a contested term rather than one used to describe indisputable vilification.
So is it reasonable to define the Family Research Council and the Values Voter Summit as 'hate groups'? Regrettably the SPLC's definitions are not taken at face value, largely down to its own willingness to be used as an 'attack dog' against traditionalist groupings.
So instead you have to make up your own mind. Here is a list of things said by those who represent the FRC to help you decide:
FRC website on homosexuality: 'While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. ... It is a homosexual problem.'
Tony Perkins, president of the FRC, on homosexuality: 'Those who understand the homosexual community – the activists – they're very aggressive, they're – everything they accuse us of they are in triplicate. They're intolerant, they're hateful, vile, they're spiteful. .... To me, that is the height of hatred, to be silent when we know there are individuals that are engaged in activity, behavior, and an agenda that will destroy them and our nation.'
Tony Perkins, president of the FRC, on Islam: 'Those who practice Islam in its entirety, it's not just a religion. It's an economic system, it's a judicial system, and it is a military – a military system. And it is – it has Shariah law that you've heard about and those things will tear and destroy the fabric of a democracy. So we have to be very clear about our laws and restrain those things that would harm the whole. We are a nation – let me be very clear about this. We are a nation that was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, that's the foundation of our nation, not Islam, but the Judeo-Christian God.'
Jerry Boykin, vice-president of the Family Research Council, on Islam: 'So we love the Muslim people but we have to be very careful to understand that Islam — in a pure sense and an authoritative sense — Islam is evil. Islam is an evil concept because it does call for innocent blood. It calls for the subjugation of women, it calls for brutality that is alien to us as Christians. So we do love the Muslim people, but the Bible also speaks of a time when men will call good evil and evil good, and we have to be sure that we are in fact calling Islam what it is, and in reality, it's evil.'