‘Hate group’ label is a dangerous weapon
The world’s largest financial monitor of non-profit groups is being taken to task for irresponsibly slapping the “hate group” label on a Christian legal group.
Orlando-based Liberty Counsel says GuideStar USA – using input from the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center – put a false and defamatory “hate group” label on its Liberty Counsel page.
Other groups were flagged as well on their GuideStar pages and demanded the label be dropped.
“GuideStar … says on the one hand it’s neutral and it provides information about non-profits with regards to their filings with the IRS, but on the other hand the CEO is very liberal in his politics,” says Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. Jacob Harold is president and CEO of GuideStar.
“He’s … an anti-Trump person, he was part of the Women’s March, he is pro-National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), pro-LGBT,” Staver continues. “And he partnered or sided with his ally, the Southern Poverty Law Center, to put a symbol of the SPLC on 46 non-profits on the GuideStar website saying that these organizations have been designated as hate groups.”
As false as that designation is, the attorney says that labeling Liberty Counsel a hate group causes harm and damage to reputations – and puts people’s lives at stake.
“We know, for example, that Floyd Corkins relied upon the SPLC’s so-called ‘hate map’ to try to commit mass murder against the Family Research Council,” he explains, referring to the August 2012 attack. “So classifying an organization or person as a ‘hater’ or a ‘hate group’ has significant consequences. We are going to hold GuideStar accountable.”
“They specifically say that they will continue to provide the information upon request and they say that they’re looking at other ways to provide this information – so they’ve never retracted or retreated from their socially liberal change organizational effort that they’re now engaging in,” he continues.
“Moreover, they’re already published this; it’s out on the web, it’s out on Wikipedia. So these are statements from GuideStar that cannot be retracted once it goes out into these Internet or media sources (and) GuideStar has never apologized or retracted these statements.”
Liberty Counsel’s lawsuit charges GuideStar with violating the federal Lanham Act, along with state law violations of Interference with Business Expectancy and Defamation. The suit seeks a permeant injunction, damages, and attorney’s fees and costs.
The case of Liberty Counsel, Inc. v. GuideStar USA, Inc. was filed in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in the Newport News Division.