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This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.
Posted on: Tuesday, September 12, 2017
by Rachel del Guidice
This article was first published September 1, 2017, at Daily Signal.
Caption: Morris Dees is a co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which labels socially conservative organizations such as Ruth Institute as “hate groups.” (Photo: Robert King/Polaris/Newscom)
The founder of a nonprofit dedicated to repairing families says she thinks being incorrectly labeled a “hate group” prompted the company that processed donations to drop her organization.
Ruth Institute’s biblical stance on issues such as gender identity and same-sex marriage led to its being labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has done the same to other mainstream conservative organizations.
Vanco Payment Solutions, her nonprofit’s online donation processor for several years, abruptly emailed to say “we are severing our relationship with you,” Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of Ruth Institute, told The Daily Signal.
“The most logical conclusion is the fact that we were in the news with this hate map that SPLC [Southern Poverty Law Center] puts out, but no one has said that directly,” Morse, who is Catholic, said.
“I don’t know that for a fact,” she added. “We’re just surmising that must be the case.”
Vanco has elected to discontinue our processing relationship with the Ruth Institute. The organization has been flagged by Card Brands as being affiliated with a product/service that promotes hate, violence, harassment and/or abuse. Merchants that display such attributes are against Vanco and Wells Fargo processing policies.
Vanco Payment Solutions is a registered independent sales organization, or ISO, of Concord, California-based Wells Fargo Bank. It is not clear what Card Brands is.
After receiving the email, Morse said, she discovered that the donation function of Ruth Institute’s website was disabled, “so obviously they had done it before they even sent us the notice.” For now, she has opted to use PayPal in place of Vanco.
Morse noted that the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center lists other socially conservative organizations as “hate groups” and “anti-LGBT hate groups,” among them the American Family Association and Alliance Defending Freedom.
In doing so, critics say, the Southern Poverty Law Center equates respected conservative organizations with actual hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and the National Vanguard, a neo-Nazi organization.
SPLC flagged Ruth Institute as a “hate group” in 2013, the institute said in its press release.
One of Ruth Institute’s board members, Walter Hoye told The Washington Times that listing Ruth Institute alongside racist groups such as the KKK is “reprehensible.” In Georgia, he said, the Klan lynched his great-grandfather and set his house on fire while his 14 children were inside.
“I understand what the Klan is, and with that understanding, there is just no way that the Ruth Institute should be on that list,” Hoye told the newspaper. “The Ruth Institute is about healing the black family.”
Morse said CNN’s Aug. 17 publication of a map locating “hate groups” listed by SPLC attracted attention to her organization. Afterward, she said, a reporter wrote a story after seeing Ruth Institute on that map.
“I think people need to understand that the left takes the sexual revolution very seriously,” Morse said in an email to The Daily Signal. “This is a core issue for them. They think that being against gay marriage is the equivalent of being a skinhead or a member of the Klan. That’s how they are treating things.”
The Daily Signal requested comment from both Vanco and the Southern Poverty Law Center, but did not receive a response by publication deadline.
Sara Hassell, a Wells Fargo spokesperson, told The Daily Signal in an email that “we don’t have anything to share on the matter at this time.”
In June, GuideStar, an organization that calls itself a neutral aggregator of tax data on charities and other nonprofits, incorporated SPLC’s “hate group” labels, a move protested by dozens of conservative leaders. GuideStar then removed the labels.
The “hate group” labeling misrepresents Ruth Institute, Morse said.
“They can’t argue against us, so what they do is they prop us up next to … the Klan, guys in white hoods and guys with swastikas,” she said.
The issue should be of grave concern to conservatives, Morse said.
“The social issues are absolutely core to a free society,” she said. “You cannot have a free society if children don’t have their own parents. If a child
doesn’t have a right to their own parents, nobody has got a right to anything.”
Posted on: Tuesday, September 12, 2017
by Dale Hurd
This article was first published September 12, 2017, at CBN.com.
Posted on: Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Posted on: Saturday, September 09, 2017
By Charlotte Allen
This article was first published September 09, 2017, at the Weekly Standard.
The “hate list” generating Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) already has the media firmly in its pocket. If the SPLC calls, say, Bell Curve and Coming Apart author Charles Murray a “white supremacist,” why, so will the Washington Post. And now corporate America seems to be jumping onto the SPLC’s “hate group” and “hate map” bandwagon, trying to cut off the financial livelihoods of organizations that the SPLC has branded as haters because their policy positions don’t accord with whatever the SPLC deems politically correct.
On Aug. 31 Vanco Payment Solutions, an online credit-card processing firm affiliated with Wells Fargo, abruptly canceled its services to the nonprofit Ruth Institute on the ground that it promotes hate, violence, harassment and/or abuse.”
The Ruth Institute? Make a visit to its website and you will be scratching your head as you search for the hate and the violence. “Inspiring the Survivors of the Sexual Revolution” is the organization’s motto. “Whether you are a Child of Divorce, a Donor Conceived Person or a Refugee from the Hookup Culture, the Ruth Institute is here for you,” declares Ruth’s founder and president Jennifer Morse Roback, holder of a Ph.D. in economics. The institute sponsors conferences and “spiritual healing” workshops for people who believe themselves harmed by freely available sex and family breakdowns, and it’s fair to say that it has a distinct traditional-values orientation. (Roback, a mother of two and foster mother of eight over the years, is a practicing Catholic who was named one of the “Catholic Stars of 2013” along with popes Francis and Benedict XIV.) So—where’s the “harassment and/or abuse” that the Ruth Institute is supposed to be promoting?
Well! It seems that the Ruth Institute was affiliated until 2013 with the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which opposes same-sex marriage. Furthermore, Ruth devotes one of its web pages to a “circle of experts”—doctors, lawyers, academics, and clergymen who share its traditional views on sex and family life. And that is what caught the attention of the SPLC’s Eye of Sauron.
The SPLC really doesn’t like the NOM, which has been on its “hate group” list for years, and it really doesn’t like the Ruth Institute’s circle of experts. One of them, for example, is Pat Fagan, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, another SPLC “hate group” long-timer because it, too, opposes same-sex marriage (it’s the organization whose office manager was shot in 2012 by a pro-gay-rights terrorist who had consulted an SPLC “hate map” to find the council’s Washington D.C. address). Another is Patrick Henry College professor Stephen Baskerville, reportedly a vehement opponent of what he calls “the homosexual agenda.”
Guilt by association, anyone? But that’s the stock in trade of the SPLC, which slammed a “hate group” designation onto the Ruth Institute in December 2013, pointing out that Ruth’s “focus on heterosexual marriage” could well be “a cover for its campaign against marriage equality and LGBT people in general.” And, although Vanco won’t elaborate on why it suddenly decided that Ruth was promoting hate and abuse, it’s pretty easy to connect the dots.
The Ruth Institute isn’t the first victim of a corporation’s refusal to do business with an organization because the SPLC deemed it a “hate group” on the basis of its promotion of traditional Christian attitudes toward sexuality and marriage. The traditional values-oriented legal aid group Liberty Counsel and the D. James Kennedy Ministries, a media-oriented offshoot of a traditional branch of the Presbyterian Church, have sued the SPLC for defamation. All three, along with the Family Research Council, were essentially blacklisted by the charity rating website GuideStar, which has adopted the SPLC’s hate list as its own. Amazon Smile, a donation setup for Amazon customers, dropped the Kennedy Ministries from its list of acceptable charities.
Corporate America seems to be feeling the love for the SPLC these days. Apple, for example, donated a cool $1 million to the organization in the wake of the Aug. 14-15 melee in Charlottesville, Va. after the SPLC went on a fundraising binge over the 500 or so white supremacists involved. PJ Media’s Tyler O’Neil lists other major companies that have recently become SPLC donors or partners: J.P. Morgan, Bank of America, Pfizer, Lyft, Newman’s Own.
The irony is that the SPLC, a perpetual-motion money machine famous for its hysteria-generating mailings to befuddled liberals after incidents of right-wing extremism real or imagined, scarcely needs the donations. Here at THE WEEKLY STANDARD, Jeryl Bier has pointed out the SPLC has parked some $69 million out of its stockpiled (that is, not spent on, say, fighting white supremacists) $319 million in donor contribution in offshore hedge funds, a common tax dodge by wealthy nonprofits seeking to mask otherwise taxable unrelated business income.
It’s one thing for corporations to waste their shareholders’ money helping the SPLC be a high-risk, high-return hedge-fund partner in the Cayman Islands.
It’s another for them to try to suck the life out of small nonprofits solely because the SPLC blacklists them as hate groups because it doesn’t like
the religiously traditional views they promote.
Posted on: Saturday, September 09, 2017
by Justin McClain
This article was first published at the NCRegister on September 7, 2017.
The word “hate,” one of the strongest in the English language, risks losing its actual potency when it is misapplied. To be clear from the outset, there are legitimately hateful acts. As a Black Catholic whose father was born in 1936 and raised in segregated Durham, North Carolina, I have heard his multiple firsthand accounts of truly hate-imbued actions by other human beings. Catholics, along with other Christians, within the broader framework of morality, readily categorize these as evil. Physical intimidation, outright violence, emotional-psychological abuse, and any other action that does not recognize every single human being’s de facto dignity can be tantamount to hatred. Hence my surprise when, while speaking with some friends recently about the hatred-ridden events in Charlottesville, coupled with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of “Active Hate Groups 2016”, I learned that some of the most upstanding Catholic people whom I am privileged to know (or at least their affiliated organizations) had unexpectedly found themselves on this ever-expanding “Hate List” at various points over the years.
This piece is not a direct diatribe against the SPLC, but it does constitute (no pun intended) a mention of the reality that, to make recourse to the classic Sesame Street song, “one of these things is not like the other.” Now, there are plenty of groups that most people of goodwill would agree deserve to be deemed “hate groups,” e.g., any of the number of groups founded on racist ideologies, those bent on demeaning and belittling others, and those whose intentions are to disrupt and destroy the framework of others’ basic human rights and worth as individuals. When I think of my friend Fran Griffin of the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation (which made the list), or Arina Grossu of the Family Research Council (which made the list), I am baffled as to how their striving to live according to accurate Christian standards could be designated as anything other than beneficent. Even in light of varying approaches to societal matters, those do not comprise abhorrence for the other.
Then there is Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of the Ruth Institute (which made the list). Never mind that Dr. Morse is an internationally recognized leader in Catholic media initiatives, so much so that Our Sunday Visitor named her one of only eight “Catholic Stars of 2013.” I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Morse speak a number of years ago at the Archdiocese of Washington’s Pastoral Center, and her message promoting chastity, marriage, and the family is easily one of the most loving that I have heard. These figures, whose words I have received and considered, are the antithesis of someone who could justifiably be regarded as “hateful.” And likewise, there is the fascinating situation of Alan Sears of Alliance Defending Freedom (which, you guessed it, made the list). As you will see, Mr. Sears’ circumstances are the most puzzling of all.
Yes, this is the same Alan Sears who, along with his wife Paula, received the Catholic Church’s highest honor for a layperson when Pope Francis inducted them into the Order of Saint Gregory the Great this June. As reported by the Catholic News Agency, according to Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona, this award “is a well-deserved recognition of their many years of defending religious freedom, standing up for the true meaning of marriage and family life, defending the dignity and right to life of every human person, and faithfully living their lay vocation in their home, their parish and the public square.” According to The Catholic Sun (the official publication of the Diocese of Phoenix), “A Scottsdale couple’s heroic efforts on behalf of religious liberty, the Church, the sanctity of life, and rights of conscience have captured the attention of Pope Francis.” Pope Francis, easily recognized by not only Catholics but by other Christians and those of various faiths around the globe, is one of the few veritably unitive purveyors of love in modern times. As such, the discerning mind is correctly led to surmise that the Holy Father is a worthy assessor of what constitutes authentic love. So, where is the disconnect? It comes down to language.
One of the simplest – really, most facile – methods of discrediting a person or a group is to label them derogatively. Admittedly, it is human nature. Sports fans rarely employ warm, inviting terminology when referring to an opposing athletic team. Politicians readily call each other names. Yet, when an organization is unjustly deemed a practitioner of bigotry without the benefit of the doubt, we need to recall a time when the word had more accuracy, not to mention even more of a sting, than it has in modern times: “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you” (John 15:18-19). So, who owns the word “hate”? Seemingly, in modern times, disagreement is too often confused with hate, and the word becomes cheapened in the process.
Nearly 30 years ago, Saint John Paul II (who embraced essentially the same views on chastity, on marriage as between one man and one woman, on the importance of the family, on the right to life for the unborn, and other comparable positions that the modern culture finds repugnant to popular sensibilities) wrote his apostolic exhortation Christifideles Laici: On the Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World. This man, who is now in heaven, included an especially astute passage within Christifideles Laici that could be applied to the situation in which many Catholics and other Christians of goodwill find themselves today, increasingly marginalized and relegated to the category of “hateful” because they strive to live according to the Gospel: “A charity that loves and serves the person is never able to be separated from justice. Each in its own way demands the full, effective acknowledgment of the rights of the individual, to which society is ordered in all its structures and institutions” (paragraph 42). The Catholic trying to live his or her faith while serving the broader public will be at odds with society’s standards. Manipulative societal standards of morality are mercilessly ratcheted back and forth, and we need but go back only a few years to recall that two prominent leaders of their political party publicly supported the view of marriage as between one man and one woman, to then-popular acclaim. They were speaking no more “hatefully” then than the Christians around the world who continue to abide by the unchanging words of Christ regarding marriage as we read them in Matthew 19:1-12, teachings which are unyielding to secular definitions.
A little over a year ago, I wrote an article for Catholic Exchange with the frank title of “How to Respond when ‘Christian’ Has Become a Bad Word – A Few Reminders from the Early Church to Today.” As an aside, it is curious how frequently Christians are deemed – whether individually or institutionally – as “hateful” for holding fast to the Gospel when other faiths are spared such a designation, even when their own faith structures [fortunately] have the same social regard for the significance of marriage, the family and children. During these challenging times, replete with pluralism, the faithful need to be more prudent than ever: “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves” (Matthew 10:16). There will be more “lists” and millions of dollars more poured into endeavors to discredit those who try to live their faith openly.
So, where do we go from here? With the nation in turmoil, it is more important than ever for American Catholics to heed the bishops. As one example of various of how the Church and secular society are speaking two different languages, note the plausible title of this Catholic World Report piece from back in January: “NYTimes: Trump Creating Christian Theocracy; Bishops: Trump Against Christian Faith.” Some inopportunely see the United States as tantamount to a theocracy akin to the setting of The Handmaid’s Tale, while the world is increasingly looking like that which is presented in Lord of the World (which both Pope [Emeritus] Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have recommended). Two different languages. According to Pew findings from 2015, American Catholics notoriously dissent from the Church’s teachings on marriage, human sexuality and ideal family structures. This dilemma has been a downward spiral ever since the mid-1960s in the United States. When Catholic politicians feel that they can histrionically legislate in direct opposition to what their faith professes (read: on an unfortunate variety of issues), and when events like the “Catholic Spring” revelations of October 2016 indicate political forces attempting to surreptitiously undermine the Church’s influence in society, one wonders little why entities external to the Catholic Church end up confused when Catholics actually try to live pursuant to their faith, lumping them in with actually hateful organizations in the process.
What are some ways that American Catholics can come to deepen their faith by heeding the bishops before other prominent, and frequently errant, voices within society? Foremost, actually read the USCCB’s news releases. The social doctrine of the Church does not, and should not, follow neat political lines. In my recent book Our Bishops, Heroes for the New Evangelization: Faithful Shepherds and the Promotion of Lay Doctrinal Literacy, I encourage the laity to better fathom the Church’s teachings, via the writings of the bishops, who are there to help us know our faith better. Of course, as is the emphasis in this article, this will frequently put people of faith at odds with what society says is acceptable, occasionally earning the opprobrium of the well-funded powers-that-be along the way.
Ultimately, who determines what is hateful, and who determines what is loving? Independent of theology, we are speaking two different languages. Who knows how Catholics who bring their faith into the public square will be regarded in future years and centuries. Despite the name-calling that may come, we find solace in the Lord’s reminder: “In the world, you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world” (John 16:33).
Posted on: Saturday, September 09, 2017
by Joan Frawley Desmond
This article was first published at NCRegister on August 31, 2017.
WASHINGTON — When Jennifer Roback Morse, the Catholic founder and president of the Ruth Institute, tried to register her nonprofit for the “Amazon Smile” program, which allots a percentage of a customer’s purchase to a designated charity, she witnessed firsthand the outsized power of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“You have been excluded from the Amazon Smile program because the Southern Poverty Law Center lists the Ruth Institute in an ineligible category,” stated a December 2016 email from Amazon in a reference to the center’s designation of the Ruth Institute as an “anti-LGBT” extremist group in its widely publicized “hate map.”
Yet the Ruth Institute has never been implicated in any political violence, nor does it have any ties to recognized extremist organizations. The nonprofit’s mission, Morse told the Register, is “to create a mass movement to end family breakdown by energizing the survivors of the sexual revolution.
“I got involved in the gay-marriage debates because I could see that redefining marriage would end up redefining parenthood and creating new inequalities among children,” Morse added. “Some children would have a legally recognized right to know both of their parents, and other children would not.”
She emphasized, however, that most of her work focuses on the behavior and choices of heterosexual couples.
“How this has to do with ‘hate,’ I cannot say,” she said.
Morse is not alone. A growing number of Christian organizations and ministries, including Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, two leading conservative advocacy groups, are also on the “hate map” created by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). And during a time of political polarization, many will assume the “hate” label is an accurate definition of a group’s mission.
Indeed, even as several SPLC targets have filed lawsuits against the group , alleging defamation, the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, have prompted technology giant Apple and J.P. Morgan, the nation’s largest bank, to announce plans for large gifts to the center.
Founded in 1971 and based in Montgomery, Alabama, the SPLC made its name as a determined legal opponent of the Ku Klux Klan and of Jim Crow-era segregationist policies. Along the way, it developed a large database of extremist organizations and became an authority on white supremacist groups, like the neo-Nazis that participated in the Charlottesville protests.
More recently, however, the center expanded its definition of “extremist” groups to include Christian organizations that uphold free-exercise rights for religious believers and biblical teachings on marriage and gender.
According to the center’s website, hate groups are organizations with “beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” Further, the SPLC contends that it only lists Christian nonprofits that denigrate members of the “LGBT community,” and not groups that only oppose the redefinition of marriage.
But its many critics argue that this working definition of “hate groups” is too vague and allows the SPLC to smear mainstream organizations and individuals with whom it disagrees, whether the issue is marriage, immigration reform or Islamic extremism.
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a respected Christian legal organization, is the latest faith-based nonprofit to appear on the hate map.
Alan Sears, ADF’s founder, told the Register that key supporters of his organization had urged him to push back against the center.
Sears, for his part, is worried that “potential supporters,” Christians who would otherwise embrace the ADF’s mission, will dismiss it without taking the time to research the SPLC’s claims.
Likewise, the “extremist” designation could damage ADF’s ability to recruit lawyers to take on important cases, a reminder that the “anti-LGBT” label is anathema in the predominantly liberal legal establishment.
“The ADF has been at the Supreme Court more times than any other religious-liberty group in the country. None of those cases dealt with marriage issues, and they say we are a ‘hater,’” Sears said.
“Pope Francis talks at length about ideological colonization, the attempt by powerful Western forces to impose gender-identity issues and marriage redefinition on other cultures,” he added. “Is the Pope’s call to uphold the teaching of the Bible and the Catechism a form of hate?”
The SPLC’s controversial tactics have also prompted charges that it has fueled violence against mainstream organizations listed on its hate map.
Back in 2012, when a gunman stormed into the Family Research Council’s Washington, D.C., offices and shot a building manager before he was wrestled to the ground, court documents noted that the assailant was inspired to take action after he saw the organization listed on the SPLC’s hate map.
The Family Research Council (FRC) accused the center of “inciting violence,” but the SPLC rejected that charge.
“Spreading demonizing lies [against the LGBT community] is what is dangerous, not exposing them,” read a statement issued by the center after the shooting.
Chris Gacek, an FRC spokesman who was in the organization’s offices at the time of the shooting, expressed frustration with the media’s selective coverage of an attack on a conservative group and also predicted the steady expansion of the center’s rolls of right-wing “extremists.”
“If we were left liberals and this was an abortion clinic, you would never have stopped hearing about the attack,” Gacek told the Register.
Looking ahead, Gacek expects the center will press ahead with its tactic of “systematic defamation” of Christian and conservative groups that take policy positions rejected by the center.
“If you oppose anything the left wants, you are a hater. This is where the dialogue in the country has gone,” he said.
The center did not respond to a request for comment from the Register. But it’s worth noting that conservative leaders are not the only critics to challenge the center’s tactics.
“Time and again, I see the SPLC using the reputation it gained decades ago fighting the Klan as a tool to bludgeon mainstream politically conservative opponents,” William Jacobson, a law professor at Cornell University, told Politico this summer.
“For groups that do not threaten violence, the use of SPLC ‘hate group’ or ‘extremist’ designations frequently are exploited as an excuse to silence speech and speakers.”
Earlier this year, the SPLC’s controversial methods were again in the spotlight, after Allison Stanger, a Middlebury College professor, was attacked by an angry mob after she appeared at a public forum with Charles Murray, an influential social scientist.
In a column on the opinion page for The New York Times, Stanger said that the center’s description of Murray as a “white nationalist” played a role in the heated reaction to his presence on campus.
“Intelligent members of the Middlebury community ... concluded that Charles Murray was an anti-gay white nationalist from what they were hearing from one another and what they read on the Southern Poverty Law Center website,” said Stanger, who was physically attacked and suffered a concussion.
“Never mind that Dr. Murray supports same-sex marriage and is a member of the courageous ‘never Trump’ wing of the Republican Party.”
The SPLC’s critics and targets charge that the hate map is integral to its fundraising strategy, which is designed to stir up a vast donor base that has helped fund an endowment of more than $200 million.
A recent article in Politico notes that Morris Dees, the center’s co-founder and a civil-rights crusader in the 1970s, has effectively mined his expertise in the “direct-mail marketing of consumer goods, a pursuit that earned him a small fortune in the 1960s and a spot in the Direct Marketing Association’s hall of fame.”
Later, after helping “George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign — in exchange for McGovern’s mailing list,” Dees gained access to more than a half-million liberal donors.
In an assessment of the SPLC’s policies and governance for the Philanthropy Roundtable, Karl Zinsmeister concluded that the center’s “two largest expenses are propaganda operations: creating its annual list of ‘haters’ and ‘extremists’ and running a big effort that pushes ‘tolerance education’ through more than 400,000 public-school teachers. And the single biggest effort undertaken by the SPLC? Fundraising. On the organization’s 2015 IRS 990 form it declared $10 million of direct fundraising expenses, far more than it has ever spent on legal services,” said Zinsmeister.
On Aug. 31, The Washington Free Beacon published an article titled “Southern Poverty Law Center Transfers Millions in Cash to Offshore Entities.” It reported that, according to its 2015 Form 990 nonprofit tax filing, the center holds “financial interests” in the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands and Bermuda.
No specifics of those “financial interests” were provided on the 2015 Form 990, but the Free Beacon reported that a different 2014 tax form disclosed that the SPLC transferred $960,000 to a pooled investment fund in the Cayman Islands in one November 2014 transaction. The newspaper also reported that, according to Securities and Exchange Commission records, the center transferred a total of $4.4 million to two other funds located in the Cayman Islands on March 1, 2015.
“I've never known a U.S.-based nonprofit dealing in human rights or social services to have any foreign bank accounts," Amy Sterling Casil, CEO of Pacific Human Capital, a California-based nonprofit consulting firm, told the Free Beacon. "… I am stunned to learn of transfers of millions to offshore bank accounts. It is a huge red flag and would have been completely unacceptable to any wealthy, responsible, experienced board member who was committed to a charitable mission who I ever worked with."
Some SPLC targets have begun to push back, filing lawsuits that charge the organization with defamation.
D. James Kennedy Ministries, based at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, filed a lawsuit in an Alabama federal court that accuses the center of libel and “subjects the ministry to disgrace, ridicule, odium and contempt in the estimation of the public,” according to an Aug. 23 statement.
A second lawsuit filed by Maajid Nawaz, a British politician and founder of the anti-Islamist organization Quilliam International, this summer highlights the center’s practice of designating critics of Islam as “anti-Muslim extremists.” That charge is especially striking, as the SPLC does not include Islamic extremist groups in its hate map.
“The SPLC, who made their money suing the KKK, were set up to defend people like me, but now they’ve become the monster that they claimed they wanted to defeat,” Nawaz charged in a video that introduced his lawsuit against the SPLC for defamation.
Thus far, the lawsuits and scathing public criticism have not shaken the support of the group’s major donors.
When Kimberley Strassel, a Wall Street Journal columnist, contacted J.P. Morgan to probe its decision to make a $500,000 donation to the SPLC, an email from the bank did not address accusations leveled against the group. It merely cited J.P. Morgan’s “long history of supporting a range of organizations that are committed to addressing inequality.”
Nevertheless, Strassel and other critics of the SPLC have warned that its exaggerated rhetoric and personal attacks are counterproductive and could erode support for the important fight against extremist groups.
“Sadly, the SPLC has become an ideological institution that uses its noble past to give authority to its smear campaigns against any who dissent from progressive orthodoxies,” said R.R. “Rusty” Reno, the author of Resurrecting the Idea of a Christian Society, which examines the campaign by progressive groups to politically isolate faith-based speech and activism on marriage and abortion.
“Crying wolf too many times will make it impossible for the SPLC to have credibility when the real threats of hate and bigotry emerge.”
Posted on: Friday, September 08, 2017
September 07, 2017 - By Catholic News Agency
A non-profit group dedicated to studying and explaining the effects of the sexual revolution claims that its ability to process donations online was cancelled because of its views on sexuality. “The Ruth Institute's primary focus is family breakdown and its impact on children: understanding it, healing it, ending it. If this makes us a ‘hate group,’ so be it,” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute, said on Friday.
Morse said that on Aug. 31 she received a letter from Vanco Payments, which processed the Ruth Institute’s donations online, telling her that the service would be discontinued that day. The reason Vanco gave for cutting their service was that the Ruth Institute “has been flagged by Card Brands as being affiliated with a product/service that promotes hate, violence, harassment and/or abuse. Merchants that display such attributes are against Vanco and Wells Fargo processing policies.”
“We surmise that Vanco dropped us because we hold views about marriage, family and human sexuality that are considered ‘Anti-LGBT’,” Morse said. Vanco did not reach out to discuss or inquire about allegations that the institute “promoted hate, violence, harassment, and/or abuse,” prior to sending the Ruth Institute a notice that service was being terminated, she said. “We’ve never had any incidents or problems” with Vanco, Morse told CNA of their years-long relationship with the payment service. She said that the sudden termination of service without any prior notice was “rude” and “uncivil.”
Asked about the decision to cut ties with the Ruth Institute, a Vanco representative on Sept. 1 told CNA, “Vanco depends on the assessment of its banking partners to guide its decisions on continuing customer relationships that those partners believe violate processing policies. Accordingly, based on that assessment, we terminated our processing relationship with the Ruth Institute on Thursday, August 31.” On Sept. 5, the representative retracted that statement, and issued a new statement saying, “Vanco terminated its processing relationship with the Ruth Institute on Thursday, August 31. Otherwise, we have no additional comment on the issue.”
Vanco did not specify how it had determined that the Ruth Institute “promoted hate, violence, harassment, and/or abuse,” Morse said. However, groups including the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) have criticized the Ruth Institute’s stance against same-sex marriage.
The SPLC was founded in 1971 and originally monitored persons and groups fighting the civil rights movement. It began to track racist and white supremacist groups like neo-Nazis and affiliates of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1980s. It also claims to monitor other “extremist” groups like “anti-immigrant” and “anti-Muslim” groups. More recently, the SPLC has listed mainstream Christian groups like the Family Research Council and Alliance Defending Freedom as “hate groups” for their “anti-LGBT” stance. The Ruth Institute has also been included in this list by SPLC. The Ruth Institute has faced consequences for this designation.
Morse told the National Catholic Register that the institute was denied its application for the “Amazon Smile” program, which sends portions of purchases to charities in the program, because of the SPLC’s “hate” designation. SPLC has recently faced questions regarding its financial administration, after reports that the non-profit has transferred millions of dollars to offshore accounts and investment firms.
Morse voiced concern that one group like SPLC holds so much power in the public sphere for its designations. Still, she said, the Ruth Institute will
not be deterred in its mission of speaking out against “the sexual revolution in all its forms” – from divorce to the hookup culture to same-sex
marriage – because these things are harmful to the human person. “What the sexual revolution promotes is irrational,” she said.
Posted on: Friday, September 08, 2017
This article was first published September 4, 2017, at Patheos.com.
Posted on: Friday, September 08, 2017
by Doug Mainwaring
This article was first published September 6, 2017, at LifeSiteNews.
The pro-family, pro-children Ruth Institute was notified Thursday that its online donation processor had cut off services because it promotes “hate, violence, harassment or abuse.” Correspondence suggests that there is a line leading directly to banking giant Wells Fargo and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The Ruth Institute made public the notice it received of the termination of their online donation processing service by, Vanco, their provider:
“Vanco has elected to discontinue our processing relationship with The Ruth Institute. The organization has been flagged by Card Brands as being affiliated with a product/service that promotes hate, violence, harassment and/or abuse. Merchants that display such attributes are against Vanco and Wells Fargo processing policies.”
The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization that seeks to create “a mass social movement to end family breakdown, by energizing the Survivors of the Sexual Revolution,” paying special attention to the needs and rights of children.
Stephanie Zercher, a spokesperson for Vanco’s public relations firm, Marsden Marketing, told LifeSiteNews, “Vanco depends on the assessment of its banking partners to guide its decisions on continuing customer relationships that those partners believe violate processing policies. Accordingly, based on that assessment, we terminated our processing relationship with the Ruth Institute on Thursday, August 31.”
Vanco’s reply points directly at its banking partner. Although unnamed in the correspondence, Wells Fargo is listed elsewhere as Vanco’s partner in its online donations processing service.
LifeSiteNews reached out to Wells Fargo Bank on Friday and again after the holiday weekend. However, a spokesperson informed LifeSiteNews that the bank was unable to meet its publication deadline.
The questions were straightforward:
1. Vanco's statement to LifeSiteNews indicates that it was the company's banking partner, Wells Fargo, that made the decision to terminate services to the Ruth Institute. Do you dispute this, and if so, why?
2. What led Wells Fargo to determine that the Ruth Institute is a 'hate group?' Does Wells Fargo rely on the Southern Poverty Law Center's published list of 'hate groups' to make such determinations? Were their other sources of input leading to this decision?
3. Is Wells Fargo concerned that it risks alienating and offending millions of Christian clients by actions such as this?
4. Will Wells Fargo investigate this matter further and reconsider its treatment of the Ruth Institute?
Many have expressed shock at the treatment the Ruth Institute received from its service providers, citing the pro-family organization as a “hate group.”
Jennifer Roback Morse, the Institute’s founder and president, said, “[Our] primary focus is family breakdown, and its impact on children: understanding it, healing it, ending it. If this makes us a ‘hate group,’ so be it.”
Morse explained, “The Ruth Institute is listed on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s ‘Hate Map,’ which was recently in the news. We have been on this ‘Hate Map’ since 2013. To the best of our knowledge, no one has ever been inspired to riot, or shoot anyone by our activities.” Moreover, “No one from Vanco, Card Brands or Wells Fargo ever contacted the Ruth Institute to inquire about how we ‘promote hate, violence, harassment and/or abuse.’”
“The Vanco company markets itself to religious organizations. Many churches use their services for processing donations,” Morse noted. “We surmise that Vanco dropped us because we hold views about marriage, family and human sexuality that are considered ‘Anti-LGBT.’ Our beliefs are the common heritage of all Christian groups. Christian organizations that utilize Vanco’s services may wish to reconsider.”
The Ruth Institute is one of a growing number of Christian pro-family, pro-marriage, pro-family organizations whose online operations and presence is being undermined by tech firms who rely on information provided the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to identify supposed “hate groups.”
Morse said, “Vanco, Card Brands, and Wells Fargo are private businesses. The Ruth Institute respects their right to conduct their businesses as they see fit. We just wish wedding photographers, bakers and florists received the same respect.”
“We have compiled the items which some groups have found objectionable on a page called ‘Where’s the Hate?’ Anyone interested can review that material and judge for themselves whether the Ruth Institute belongs on a list with the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis.”
The American Conservative’s Rod Dreher, speaking about large corporations refusing services to small Christian clients, said, “Note well the hypocrisy here: it is hateful for a Christian wedding photographer, florist, or baker to refuse to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding out of moral conviction, but it is virtuous for a major financial corporation to refuse to do business with a Christian ministry out of moral conviction. Heads they win, tails we lose.”
“I would wager that the leadership of major American corporations are eager to marginalize and destroy socially and religiously conservative groups, and are more than happy to have SPLC’s ‘hate map’ as an excuse to do so,” Dreher said. “What if banks and lending institutions decide to cut off access to credit for organizations and institutions they deem to be purveyors of “hate”? You don’t think it could happen to your employer, your church, your favorite charities? You don’t think it could happen to you? Wake up."
Posted on: Friday, September 08, 2017
By Tyler O'Neil
This article was first published September 5, 2017, at PJMedia.
Last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) seemed to claim another scalp. On Thursday, the credit card processing company Vanco Payment Solutions dropped the Christian nonprofit Ruth Institute (RI) over claims that RI "promotes hate, violence, harassment and/or abuse." The group has been listed on the SPLC's "hate map"since 2013.
"The Ruth Institute's primary focus is on family breakdown, and its impact on children. If this makes us a 'hate group,' so be it," the RI's founder and president, Jennifer Roback Morse, declared in a statement.
Vanco sent the Ruth Institute a letter Thursday, declaring that it was canceling their service immediately. "Vanco has elected to discontinue our processing relationship with The Ruth Institute," the letter read. "The organization has been flagged by Card Brands as being affiliated with a product/service that promotes hate, violence, harassment and/or abuse. Merchants that display such attributes are against Vanco and Wells Fargo processing policies."
In a statement to PJ Media, Vanco confirmed that "we terminated our processing relationship with the Ruth Institute on Thursday, August 31." A Vanco spokesperson would neither confirm nor deny whether or not the company's conclusion that RI "promotes hate" was inspired by the SPLC's "hate map."
Morse reported that "no one from Vanco, Card Brands, or Wells Fargo ever contacted the Ruth Institute to inquire about how we 'promote hate, violence, harassment and/or abuse.'"
The Vanco statement did not explicitly link its reasoning with the SPLC "hate map," but the Ruth Institute has been listed on this map since 2013, Morse noted. "To the best of our knowledge, no one has ever been inspired to riot or shoot anyone by our activities," the RI president said.
This stands in marked contrast to the SPLC, which has been linked to two domestic terror attacks.
In the summer of 2012, Floyd Lee Corkins III broke into the Family Research Council (FRC), a Christian nonprofit in Washington, D.C., that the SPLC's "hate map" lists with RI as an "anti-LGBT hate group." Corkins aimed to murder everyone in the building, and he later pled guilty to committing an act of terrorism. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison. During an FBI interrogation, he said he targeted the FRC because of the SPLC "hate map."
This past summer, Bernie Sanders supporter James Hodgkinson shot people at a Republican Congressional Baseball Game practice, nearly killing Rep.
Steve Scalise (R-La.). Hodgkinson "liked" the SPLC on Facebook.
Furthermore, the SPLC had repeatedly attacked
Scalise for a speech he gave to a white supremacist group in 2002. The SPLC attacked him for it even after he apologized and was called a "sellout" by white supremacists.
Such carelessness has emerged again and again throughout the SPLC's history. In 2014, the group placed retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson on its "Extremist Watch List." Just last week, the group removed the innocent historic town of Amana Colonies from its "hate map." While the SPLC eventually removed Amana Colonies, it first defended the "hate" label because a white supremacist website claimed to have had a book club in one of the town's restaurants.
In a series of three videos, the anti-Islamist group Quilliam International revealed the SPLC's ever-changing reasons for listing Muslim Maajid Nawaz as an "anti-Muslim extremist." One of the reasons the SPLC gave for targeting Nawaz? His visit to a strip club for his bachelor party.
Along these lines, the Ruth Institute compiled all the items that some groups have found objectionable on a page called "Where's the Hate?" Morse suggested that Americans check out this material for themselves, before deciding that the Ruth Institute is a "hate group."
The SPLC was originally founded to fight white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) in court. In recent decades, however, it expanded its legitimate list of racist hate groups to include mainstream conservative groups which which it disagrees.
Morse argued that the SPLC hate map places RI "right next to the guys with white hoods and swastikas," in order to silence debate on the sexual revolution.
"If you go around saying that kids don't really need their parents and adults can make any sexual choice that they want and it will all be good because we will contracept away all the problems on one hand or abort away the problems, or the kids will be so resilient that it will all be fine, that's completely irrational. It's completely crazy," Morse told the Christian Post.
In fact, the SPLC's former spokesman, Mark Potok explained that the group's primary goal is to destroy its political opponents. "Our aim in life is to destroy these groups, completely destroy them," he said. He later added that the SPLC's criteria for what makes an organization a "hate group" are "strictly ideological."
In addition to RI and the FRC, the SPLC's "hate group" list includes Christian organizations like D. James Kennedy Ministries, Liberty Counsel, the American Family Association (AFA), and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), along with other groups like the American College of Pediatricians and the Center for Immigration Studies. It also lists Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz and women's rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali as "anti-Muslim extremists."
Despite the group's shaky track record and history of terror connections, it has been raking in cash after the riots in Charlottesville, Va. George Clooney and his wife Amal pledged $1 million to the group, and the company J.P.Morgan pledged $500,000. Apple CEO Tim Cook was even more generous, announcing his company would give $1 million to the SPLC and that it would set up a system in iTunes software to let consumers directly donate to the organization.
Other companies like Lyft and MGM Resorts have also partnered with the SPLC, and many companies have matched their employees' contributions to the group, including big names such as Disney, Kraft Heinz, Shell, and Verizon. Pfizer, Bank of America, and Newman's Own have each given the organization at least $8,900 in the past few years.
The SPLC does not need this money, however. The Washington Free Beacon recently reported that the group sent multiple transactions to foreign entities, including two cash payments of $2.2 million into funds in the Cayman Islands. The SPLC takes in $50 million in contributions each year, and had $328 million in net assets as of 2015.
Recent support has not been limited to monetary assistance, however. CNN broadcast the SPLC's "hate map"on its website and Twitter account this month (with the FRC still marked on the map). Two other major media outlets, ABC and NBC, parroted the SPLC's "hate group" label against ADF last month.
In June, the charity navigation website GuideStar adopted the SPLC "hate group" list, marking each profile of the targeted organizations as a "hate group." This action inspired the first of three lawsuits against the SPLC, launched by the Christian nonprofit Liberty Counsel. Maajid Nawaz followed up with his own lawsuit soon after, and D. James Kennedy Ministries has been the most recent group to sue the SPLC for defamation.
While Morse vehemently protested having her organization unceremoniously blacklisted, she defended Vanco's right to make such a decision.
"Vanco, Card Brands, and Wells Fargo are private businesses. The Ruth Institute respects their right to conduct their businesses as they see fit," Morse said. Chillingly, she added, "We just wish wedding photographers, bakers, and florists received the same respect."
Morse referred to photographers, bakers, and florists because such professionals have been penalized for refusing to take part in same-sex weddings. These people did not discriminate against LGBT people, but rather opted out of serving a particular event. Even so, they have been fined and ridiculed.
Such cases include Washington state florist Barronelle Stutzman, Oregon bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein, Michigan farmers Steve and Bridget Tennes, Colorado baker Jack Philips (whose case will come before the Supreme Court), and many others. An LGBT megadonor has declared his intention to "punish the wicked," by continuing to penalize such actions.
While Morse defended these companies' right to cut off business with her, she did take a different kind of offensive line against them.
"The Vanco company markets itself to religious organizations," the RI president noted. "We surmise that Vanco dropped us because we hold views about marriage, family and human sexuality that are considered 'Anti-LGBT.'"
Although groups like the SPLC may brand such ideas as "hateful," Morse noted, "Our beliefs are the common heritage of all Christian groups. Christian organizations that utilize Vanco's services may wish to reconsider."
The Ruth Institute president was not calling for a boycott per se, but rather a concerted effort on behalf of Christian nonprofits to shame Vanco into reversing its decision. This is exactly the same kind of campaign the SPLC is waging against such groups, but RI decided not to brand Vanco a "hate group." Instead, Morse called on other Christian groups to reconsider working with the company.
Finally, Morse reiterated that the Ruth Institute will still accept donations the old-fashioned way. "Donors to the Ruth Institute can rest assured that their private information has not been compromised," the president said. "Supporters can send checks to our main office, 4845 Lake St.; #217; Lake Charles, LA 70605."
With Apple, J.P. Morgan, George Clooney, CNN, and all sorts of groups teaming up with the SPLC to wage a campaign against nonprofits like the
Ruth Institute, Morse's organization needs all the help it can get.