D. James Kennedy Ministries (DJMK) is suing for defamation after being listed a by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a "hate-group" alongside the KKK and neo-Nazi organizations.
The lawsuit, filed this week, alleges that the SPLC "illegally trafficked in false and misleading descriptions of the services offered by DJKM and committed defamation against DJKM arising from the publication and distribution of false information that libels the ministry's reputation and subjects the ministry to disgrace, ridicule, odium, and contempt in the estimation of the public," according to a statement by the ministry.
"We embarked today on a journey to right a terrible wrong," said Dr. Frank Wright, president and CEO at D. James Kennedy Ministries, in a statement released after the filing of the lawsuit. "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."
He added: "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."
Amazon and Guidestar also are listed as defendants, as the Amazon Smile program excluded it from its list of charities to which customers could donate because of the SPLC's "hate" designation.
The SPLC reportedly listed the Christian organization as a "hate group" alongside the KKK and the Aryan Nation, among others, due to its opposition to gay marriage and radical Islam. It's listed as a group with "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, praised the DJKM for 'its effort to expose the truth about the Southern Poverty Law Center'.
He said in a statement: "The SPLC is an organization that is an attack dog of the Left, 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."
Other faith-based organizations listed as "hate groups" according to the SPLC's "hate map" include the Alliance Defending Freedom, the American Family Association, Liberty Counsel, Texas Values, and more.
In addition to the lawsuit, the DJKM recently released a documentary aimed at critiquing the actions and agenda of the SPLC. Titled "Profits of Hate," the special program was broadcast on various stations in July and will be aired again on various local television stations in September.
"We sat down and said 'what are some issues that need to be addressed that represent significant existential threats to religious freedom and to Christian ministries like ours that try to proclaim the Gospel faithfully?' And the Southern Poverty Law Center was at the top of our list," Wright told The Christian Post.
"The reason it was at the top of our list was their attempt to redefine historic Christian teaching as hate speech is so insidious and had the potential for having such a damaging effect on the cause of Christ that we put it at the top of our list..The Southern Poverty Law Center has literally descended into nothing more than an attack arm of the liberal leftist agenda in America."