Pro-family leaders warn that ‘hate group’ label defines Christianity as bigotry

Maggie Gallagher Prof Robert George CNA US Catholic News 11 30 10 Maggie Gallagher and Prof. Robert George

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s classification of pro-family groups as hate groups is the “next phase” of a gay rights movement which seeks to redefine Christianity as bigotry and to shut down honest debate, pro-family leaders warned.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is a well-funded civil rights organization which began in 1971 in opposition to racism and white supremacist groups.

Last week the center published an article classifying the Family Research Council and several other organizations as a “hate groups.” The SPLC also criticized the National Organization for Marriage, claiming both groups are “anti-gay.” The center claimed its listed groups have spread “known falsehoods” about “LGBT people” and have engaged in “repeated, groundless name-calling.”

The group listed 18 total organizations, including Concerned Women for America, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, and MassResistance. The law center stated that viewing homosexuality as unbiblical “does not qualify organizations for listing as hate group.”

In response, FRC president Tony Perkins charged that the SPLC was engaging in “a deliberately timed smear campaign” against FRC’s nearly 30 years of action “with civility and passion.”

“We hold to the indisputable fact that the family- a Dad, a Mom, and children - is the best building block of a good society, which is why we oppose efforts to transform it based on personal sexual preference,” he said in a Nov. 24 statement.

He called on the law center to apologize for its “slanderous attack and attempted character assassination.”

Maggie Gallagher, chairman of the board for the National Organization for Marriage, spoke about the SPLC article and list in a Nov. 29 interview with CNA. She called it an “absurd distraction” and a “very sad” move for “a once-great civil rights organization.”

“What we’re seeing now is the next phase of the gay rights movement,” she warned. She noted homosexual rights activist Dan Savage’s claim in the Washington Post that the country should get to a point where same-sex marriage isn’t debatable.

“This is part of the unfolding process of attempting to redefine Christian teaching on sex and marriage as the moral, legal and cultural equivalent of racism.”

“I do believe this is the goal of the architects of the gay marriage movement,” Gallagher stated. “And they’re making it very clear.

In a Nov. 29 e-mail to CNA, Princeton University law professor and National Organization for Marriage chairman emeritus Robert P. George compared the action to Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s smearing of opponents by accusing them of being communist sympathizers.

While the Law Center continues to do some good work in the area of civil rights, its “tarring” of those it opposes “reveals itself to have become an ideologically partisan organization bent on shutting down dissent by intimidating into silence those with whom it should be engaged in honest debate.”

Gallagher noted that the Southern Poverty Law Center did not name her organization as a hate group “but even the Washington Post got confused” by its article.

Responding to the Law Center's accusations that some groups listed had spread falsehoods, she said she did not see anything that “would remotely cause us to be included in this report.”

In general comments about the SPLC’s attack on other groups, she described precedents in Europe where professions of belief in religious freedom accompany government suppression of believers in traditional marriage.

In Britain, according to Gallagher, Christian schools have the right to teach religious doctrine but the state claims the right to decide whether or not what is taught is a fact.

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“The line they’re drawing is that you can say that gay marriage is unbiblical, but you can’t say ‘It’s better for children to have a mom and a dad’,” Gallagher explained.

The attempt to “shut down the scientific debate” on statements of fact controls what ordinary people can say and think and helps “morally shame” people who think marriage is a union of a man and a wife.

Gallagher saw the Law Center’s action as a vindication of her past statements.

“I wish they would stop proving that we’re right so consistently. I’m not surprised. This is what I predicted would happen. I’m a little surprised it’s happening so fast.

“They believe you should be treated like a racist if you think marriage is a union of a man and a wife,” she said.

Asked to explain the difference between having racist views and having views opposed to homosexual acts, Prof. George said that debates about sexual ethics are about whether certain acts are “consistent with the dignity of human beings.”

However, this debate assumes “the equal and inestimable worth and dignity of all human beings” because it asks whether certain acts are worthy of them. Racist ideology rejects this, basing itself on “skin pigmentation” or other “morally irrelevant factors.”

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“We need to face squarely the goals of this movement, the rhetoric of this movement, and the fact that this is an issue,” Gallagher remarked.

She added that Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic bishops have made clear that “it doesn’t get better” if opponents of same-sex “marriage” stand down.

“The next fight is going to be whether or not our religious institutions and parents and schools are going to be stigmatized in the public square as racists, and face legal disabilities that racists face.”

George similarly warned that adherents of traditional Christian and Jewish beliefs have seen their rights “trampled” where same-sex unions have been recognized and where anti-discrimination laws have been used as “weapons against dissenters.”

“Here in the United States, we don't put people in jail for advocating bigotry, but we impose civil disabilities of various sorts,” he commented.

He predicted that if support for traditional marriage is treated as a form of bigotry, dissenting persons and institutions like the Catholic Church will “quickly find such disabilities imposed upon them.”

“It has already happened in Massachusetts, where Catholic Charities has been driven out of the field of providing adoption services,” he said.