Ruth Speaks Out

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.

Corporate America Dances to the Southern Poverty Law Center's Tune

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.



When the Pope Praises You and the World Puts You on a “Hate” List

by Justin McClain

This article was first published at the NCRegister on September 7, 2017.

Alan Sears of Alliance Defending Freedom speaks with CNA in Rome on Nov. 20, 2014.
Alan Sears of Alliance Defending Freedom speaks with CNA in Rome on Nov. 20, 2014. (Bohumil Petrik/CNA)

Ultimately, who determines what is hateful, and who determines what is loving?


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).

SPLC ‘Hate Map’ Targets Christians, Pro-Family Groups

The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the Alliance Defending Freedom and other Christian organizations as ‘extremist,’ and they have decided to fight back.

by Joan Frawley Desmond

This article was first published at NCRegister on August 31, 2017.

Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, answers questions at a news conference in Washington, D.C., related to the shooting incident at FRC headquarters. Because of its opposition to same-sex 'marriage' and gender ideology, FRC was targeted by an armed assailant who said he was inspired to take action after he saw the organization listed on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s 'hate map.'
Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, answers questions at a news conference in Washington, D.C., related to the shooting incident at FRC headquarters. Because of its opposition to same-sex 'marriage' and gender ideology, FRC was targeted by an armed assailant who said he was inspired to take action after he saw the organization listed on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s 'hate map.' (2012 photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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.”

Did this group lose its fundraising page because of its view on marriage?

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.

Do Progressives Really Believe in Public Accommodation?

By George Yancey

This article was first published September 4, 2017, at

Last year I offered progressives an opportunity to show their ideological consistency. Many of them had affirmed that Christians have a right to be free in their own churches as long as they stayed out of the public square. I do not accept such a “deal.” I believe that conservative Christians have just as much of a right to the public square as any other group. But if progressives were being honest, then they should have been upset at Eric Walsh’s dismissal from a government position. He was fired for sermons he delivered in his church. Progressives had a chance to show that they actually believe in freedom of worship even if they did not believe in freedom of religion. The silence of progressives defending Walsh indicated just how badly they failed that test.

Well we have now been given a second opportunity to see if progressives believe what they really say they believe. For the past few years progressive activists have touted the value of public accommodation. It appears that the value of public accommodations is particularly important to them as it concerns issues of sexuality. We all know the drill. A same-sex couple asked a Christian florist, baker or photographer to serve at their wedding. The Christian turns them down citing their religious beliefs. The weight of the government falls upon the Christian as accusations of failing to provide accommodations rain down on him or her. Every progressive politician or activist feels obligated, either internally or externally, to condemn the Christian as a bigot. Perhaps the most significant case right now is Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. It is going to go before the Supreme Court based on an appeal from Masterpiece Cakeshop which has lost in the lower court. And every progressive who writes about the case is on the side of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

So the question I have is whether they are on the side of the Civil Rights Commission because they truly believe in public accommodations or because they do not like conservative Christians. That is a little blunt but given my research on Christianophobia, my concern is quite reasonable. If you think that last comment is out of bounds, then there is an easy way to prove that I am wrong. Take a case where a Christian organization needs protection for public accommodations and see if progressives will protect that organization. If the principle of public accommodations is driving the concern of progressives, then certainly they would defend that Christian organization.

Well we now have a great opportunity to test that possibility. Last week the Ruth Institute was dropped by Vanco Payment Services. The Ruth Institute is a Catholic nonprofit based in Lake Charles, Louisiana. They definitely have a traditional perspective on issues of sexuality and family. As a result, they are not supportive of same-sex relationships. I am certain they have been critical of those relationships and that critique caught the eye of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) who put them on the hate list. It was because of the hate list that Vanco decided to stop serving them.

We also get to see if progressives truly believe in public accommodations. When people truly believe in rights, then they extend those rights to everyone, even their enemies. For example, I do not believe for a second that a progressive activist would be okay with someone at the Ruth Institute being killed. That is because they believe that not being killed is a right shared by everyone. But do that believe in public accommodations for everyone? If they do, then they would protect the right of those at the Ruth Institute to be protected from abuses of public accommodation.

This is not about the SPLC. I have been critical of SPLC in the past. I anticipate that I will be critical of them in the future. They were once an important organization in the fight for civil rights, but they have degenerated into a partisan hit squad. But this is not about them except for the fact that they are a private organization. They are not part of the government, and their opinion about who is a hate group carries no legal weight. Vanco does not have the protection of stating that they are reacting to an official government list. They are reacting to the opinions of those at SPLC about what they define as a hate group. In short Vanco dropped the Ruth Institute because they did not like some of the implications of their religious beliefs. Since religion is a protected group, this is every bit a public accommodations violation as it would be for Masterpiece Cakeshop.

In fact, I think it is a worse violation of public accommodation than the Masterpiece case. Consider it this way. A same-sex couple goes to a bake shop and asked for a wedding cake. The owner turns them down because of religious beliefs. What has the couple lost? Well to be fair, they may feel humiliated. They may feel unfairly judged and rejected. They may feel a good deal of things. But all that they have lost is emotional distress. Are they out any money? No. Will they be able to get a cake? I bet going down the street they will easily find a baker who will be happy to take their money. Will they be out of time? They may lose at most an hour locating another baker. Their feelings are hurt, and that should be recognized. But it is hard to see what other costs there would be for them. If we are going to enforce public accommodation laws in this situation, then we are arguing that placating the emotions of those in the same-sex couples is sufficient for punishing a given business.

Perhaps that should be enough to prosecute a case. The larger issues of fairness may dictate that those feelings of humiliation and loss are too costly for us to allow a business to go unpunished. Perhaps as a society we want to make a statement that no one should feel bad because they are not accommodated. That is a respectable position, although it is not mine. My personal position is that business should be forced to provide a product for a person in a store that they can take and do with it whatever they want to do. But when it comes to serving events or promoting a cause, then the business owner has freedom of conscience rights. That means that someone has to serve a same-sex couple that comes to eat in his or her restaurant but does not have to cater a same-sex wedding.

The penalty for those that use their conscience rights should be the marketplace and not official sanction. Thus the baker or florist may lose business from the same-sex couple and their friends. Organized boycotts are allowable in these circumstances. If the business owner truly has religious beliefs, then he or she should accept such loss of business. But when the government gets involved, then inevitably they fail to be content neutral and certain individuals are punished for not have the “right” beliefs for government officials. Often attempts to combat some forms of bigotry leads to other forms of bigotry. In fact the actions of Vanco illustrate one such time when this is the case.

Since we have looked at public accommodations from the point of view of the same-sex couple, to be fair we also need to look at accommodations from the point of view of the Ruth Institute. They hired Vanco to process their online donations. Now Vanco has dropped them. First, we have to recognize that all of the emotional trauma visited on the same-sex couple certainly applies here. Vanco dropped them due to the idea that they are a hate group. Why is this not as much of a humiliation, rejection and judgment as the same-sex couple felt when not provided a cake? The SPLC list of hate includes organizations such as KKK and Nazi groups. The Ruth Institute has been lumped in with truly hateful groups and in addition to that humiliation, they are now losing the services of their online processing company. It is reasonable to argue that the members of this group have at least as much right to feel rejected as the same-sex couple. Some would say they have even have more reason to feel rejected.

So now the Ruth Institute has to find someone else to do their online processing. And while they are trying to find someone, they are losing actual money from those who are unable to give them money online. And this is different from the effort of the same-sex couple to find a baker. It has now been advertised that the Ruth Institute is on the SPLC hate list, and for that reason they have been dropped from their previous company. Don’t you think that some of the other companies may turn them down so that they are not serving “haters.” I think they will find another company, but it will take them more time than it will take the same-sex company to find a baker. And while that same-sex couple will only lose a little time, the Ruth Institute will lose money for every day they have to go without online donations.

I contend that the Ruth Institute has suffered worse than the same-sex couple. However, even if that is not true, it is hard to argue that they have not suffered at least as much as that couple. So if the ideals of fairness and public accommodations are so important that we cannot hurt the feelings of the same-sex couple, then certainly it is so important that the Ruth Institute should be protected.

Now some may argue that the Ruth Institute is not being punished for their religious beliefs but for promoting hate. Once again I will not engage with the criteria used by SPLC to determine what a hate group is. But even if they used a proper methodology for making such a determination, this argument about not punishing the Ruth Institute because of their religion does not hold water. Likewise, many of the Christian businesses argue that they are willing to serve the same-sex couple but not their wedding.
Progressive activists have not been willing to accept such an explanation as they argue that such weddings are natural consequences of same-sex love. If that is true, then is not the Ruth Institute promoting the natural consequences of their religious beliefs? If businesses cannot abstaining from serving same-sex weddings because is it homophobia then business should also not be able to abstain from serving Christian organizations that do not believe in same-sex unions because it would promote Christianophobia.

Will progressives truly show that they agree with public accommodations even for groups they do not like? Given my experience with the unwillingness to support Eric Walsh, I do not hold out much hope. But I would be very happy to be proven wrong. It would give me pleasure to know that progressives are truly committed to tolerance. It would give me pleasure because I am committed to such tolerance. That is why I explained my position above as to allowing freedom of conscience with informal, but not formal, sanctions.

Will progressives put pressure on Vanco to accept the business of the Ruth Institute? Or will they pressure other companies to follow suit and reject the Ruth Institute? Do progressives hope that unequal treatment of organizations like the Ruth Institute will lead to their demise and at least indirectly lead to a dramatic reduction of Christina influence? Perhaps a radical reduction in Christianity in the United States. Now is the time when we will see the intentions of those who call themselves progressive.
If there are not progressive activists and politicians who begin to speak out, then I will conclude that all of their talk of tolerance is a charade. They need not wonder why individuals like myself do not believe them when they insist that want equality. They have shown their true colors. They fight for the rights of those they like but not others. I have no problems calling out hypocrisy among conservative Christians who talk about moral leaders and then voted for Trump. But I also have no problems calling out hypocrisy among progressives who only show concern for equality for those they prefer.

I am never impressed when progressives talk about being tolerant and that tolerance is reduced to groups for which they already have affiliation. Their true test of tolerance is what happens when they deal with groups they do not like. In the past progressives showed such tolerance with actions such as the ACLU defense of the Nazi’s right to speech in Skokie. I am not sure if modern progressives passes this test.

Wells Fargo may be linked to persecution of pro-family groups over ‘hate’ accusation

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.

Donations processor points finger at Wells Fargo

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.

Wells Fargo leaves questions unanswered

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.”

Wake up

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."


Another Scalp? Donation Processing Company Drops ‘Hate Group’ Christian Nonprofit Attacked by the Southern Poverty Law Center

By Tyler O'Neil

This article was first published September 5, 2017, at PJMedia.


A map of organizations across the United States which the Southern Poverty Law Center considers "hate groups."
SPLC Hate Map

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.

917. That's the number of hate groups operating in the US, according to data from the Southern Poverty Law Center

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.

Southern Poverty Law ‘hate map’ label proves costly to pro-family Ruth Institute

Catholic nonprofit dropped by online donation service over listing, fights ‘hate’ label

By Valerie Richardson- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Southern Poverty Law Center "hate map" has come under heated criticism on the right for lumping mainstream conservative organizations with the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis. (SPLC)

Southern Poverty Law Center “hate map” has come under heated criticism on the right for lumping mainstream conservative organizations with the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis. (SPLC)

Being classified as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center has been costly for the Ruth Institute, a Catholic nonprofit dedicated to combating the breakdown of the family.

First, the online retail giant Amazon refused to allow the group to be included on its Amazon Smile charitable giving program. Then, last week, Vanco Payment Solutions dropped the ministry from its online donation processing service.

“The organization has been flagged by Card Brands as being affiliated with a product/service that promotes hate, violence, harassment and/or abuse,” said the Aug. 31 notice, according to the Ruth Institute. “Merchants that display such attributes are against Vanco and Wells Fargo processing policies.”

Jennifer Roback Morse, who founded the institute in 2008 and previously taught economics at Yale and George Mason universities, rejected the “hate” label, saying her group “categorically condemns white supremacy, racism, Nazism and all violent totalitarian political movements.”

“We don’t incite anybody to violence. We don’t say we hate anybody. We don’t demean anybody,” said Ms. Morse. “We disagree with certain policy positions that are being aggressively promoted by professional gay rights organizations. But we disagree with their policies. That’s all.”

That’s enough to qualify for the SPLC’s “hate map,” which has come under heated criticism on the right for lumping mainstream conservative organizations with the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis.

Walter B. Hoye II, a Ruth Institute board member and founder of the Issues4Life Foundation in Oakland, California, called the SPLC’s decision to list the institute alongside racist groups like the KKK “reprehensible.”

Mr. Hoye recounted his family’s horrific history with the Klan: His great-grandfather was lynched and his house set on fire — with his 14 children inside — by the KKK in Georgia.

“I understand what the Klan is, and with that understanding, there is just no way that the Ruth Institute should be on that list,” Mr. Hoye said. “The Ruth Institute is about healing the black family. It could not be more different.”

Ms. Morse said.

The Ruth Institute, based in Lake Charles, Louisiana, was part of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) until 2013, when it split off as its own in order to distance itself from politics and concentrate on families and children.

Ms. Morse said her group, which ministers to “survivors of the sexual revolution,” wound up on the “hate map” the same year.

“[O]ver the years, she has steered clear of some of the more virulent anti-LGBT rhetoric, though the institute RI, like NOM at the time, used a tactic in which RI bloggers selectively quoted from virulently anti-LGBT sources while claiming to support LGBT individuals and simply being opposed to marriage equality,” said the SPLC in an Aug. 24 post.

Vanco’s decision comes shortly after CNN posted the “hate map” online under the headline, “Here are all the active hate groups where you live,” later changing it to, “The Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of hate groups.”

The SPLC took a public relations hit last week for funneling millions to offshore accounts, according to a report by The Washington Free Beacon, while D. James Kennedy Ministries has sued the center for defamation over its “hate map.”

Still, the SPLC remains popular with celebrities: Apple CEO Tim Cook and actor George Clooney both gave $1 million to the Alabama-based civil rights group after last month’s violent clash between white nationalists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Rod Dreher of the American Conservative blog said he believed that leaders of major American corporations are “eager to marginalize and destroy socially and religiously conservative groups, and are more than happy to have the SPLC’s ‘hate map’ as an excuse to do so.”

“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,” he said. “Heads they win, tails we lose.”

Vanco specializes in religious institutions: It markets itself as an “online giving solution for churches,” saying that it works with more than 20,000 and has been “trusted by more churches than any other faith-based giving and payments provider!”

Ms. Morse, who’s seeking another online donation service, said other faith-based groups may want to switch companies. A Vanco spokesperson had no comment on the issue.

“Our beliefs are the common heritage of all Christian groups,” she said in a post. “Christian organizations that utilize Vanco’s services may wish to reconsider.”

Will the Southern Poverty Law Center Brand the Roman Catholic Church a 'Hate Group'?

By Tyler O'Neil

This article was first published September 7, 2017 at pjmedia.

Pope Francis closes the Jubilee of Mercy in Vatican City on Nov. 20, 2016. (Rex Features via AP Images)

In 2013, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) branded the Ruth Institute (RI) a "hate group," and has stood by this decision ever since. Last month, the credit card processing company Vanco Payments canceled its partnership with RI seemingly over this issue. Also last month, the SPLC reiterated its attack on RI, claiming to quote RI Founder and President Jennifer Roback Morse. In actuality, the quote they presented to justify labeling Morse a "hater" came from another source — the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Since the SPLC applied the "hate group" label to RI, "I don't see why they wouldn't also have to say that the Catholic Church is a hate group," Chris Gacek, senior fellow for regulatory policy at the Family Research Council (FRC), told PJ Media in an interview. "Except that it would be totally suicidal at this time."

"Absolutely, I think that's right," Roback Morse herself told PJ Media in another interview. But she argued that the reason the SPLC will not brand the largest Christian denomination a "hate group" has nothing to do with them being "afraid of the Catholic Church."

While Roback Morse admitted she does not know the SPLC's motivation, she explained, "The fact is, inside the Catholic Church, there are many shall we say gay allies. There are people inside the Church who are trying to change the Church's teaching."

"If I were the SPLC, attacking the Catholic Church would not be smart right now," the RI president added. "Better to let the Catholic Church unravel itself from the interior. But for all I know, at some point they may go after the Catholic Church and label it a hate group."

Indeed, Gacek's reasoning is sound. In its August update on the activities of "Anti-LGBT Hate Groups," the SPLC justified listing RI in this manner. "Over the years, Roback Morse has claimed that the gay rights movement is 'anti-human' and has used Catholic doctrine to assert that LGBT people are 'intrinsically disordered' and that they should remain celibate (or leave the 'gay lifestyle') and not act on their attractions."

Here is the section on homosexuality from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the authoritative statement of doctrine which Catholics must agree with:

Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

This is the official position of the largest Christian denomination, and if its position justifies calling the Ruth Institute a "hate group," then the SPLC should be consistent and label the Roman Catholic Church a "hate group."

Furthermore, Pope Francis — often a darling of the political Left — has outspokenly condemned LGBT ideology, calling transgenderism in particular "a global war against the family." Why are his remarks not listed on the "Anti-LGBT Hate Group" page?

In her interview with PJ Media, Roback Morse explained the reasons she opposes the LGBT movement. "The reason that I battle the sexual revolution the way that I do is that I believe it has been harmful particularly to children," the RI president said.

"If you start with the idea that children are entitled to a relationship with both of their parents, you'll end up with traditional Catholic morality," she argued. "You'll end up with, 'Don't have sex until you're married, and don't have sex with anybody you're not married to, and contraception and abortion do not get you off the hook.'"

But contemporary secular culture has "thrown all that under the bus for the sake of adult sexual freedom. Whether you're gay or not gay — that's not what we're concerned about." Roback Morse argued that the worst aspect of the LGBT agenda is that it "furthermore undermines the social and legal perception that kids are entitled to a relationship with their parents."

Chillingly, she declared, "I think that adults should be sacrificing for their children, not the other way around."

The RI president also explained why the Catholic Church is the natural enemy of the LGBT movement. "The Catholic Church, at least on paper, is the last big organization taking a stand against the sexual revolution and in favor of traditional morality," she said. "Now, in practice that's not always true because there are priests and bishops who are all over the map, but the Catechism is still very clear on these points."

"If you're a group like the SPLC or any other sexual revolutionary group like Planned Parenthood, they can correctly recognize that the Catholic Church is their enemy," Roback Morse concluded.

The SPLC's "hate group" list has gained traction following the white supremacist riot in Charlottesville, Va. The SPLC originally made its name fighting groups like the KKK in court, but later transitioned to labeling mainstream conservative and Christian organizations "hate groups" along with the KKK. An SPLC spokesman declared that his organization's "aim in life is to destroy these groups, completely."

In recent months, the mainstream media and Internet companies have aided in those efforts. CNN recently broadcast the SPLC's "hate map"on its website and Twitter account (which still includes FRC, by the way), and two other major media outlets, ABC and NBC, parroted the SPLC's "hate group" label against Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) last month.

Google officially announced that it was partnering with the SPLC and ProPublica to launch the Documenting Hate News Index. Similarly, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that his company would give the SPLC $1 million, that it would match employee contributions, and that it would set up a system in iTunes software for consumers to donate directly.

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.

In December, D. James Kennedy Ministries was denied access to Amazon's charity connection service, Amazon Smile, because it was listed as a "hate group" by the SPLC. They also filed a lawsuit against the SPLC for defamation.

The list of "hate groups" is extremely problematic, partially because the reasons the SPLC gives for defaming them shift frequently. The SPLC briefly listed Ben Carson as an "extremist" on its list, and only took his name down following a public outcry. Just last week, the group removed the innocent historic town of Amana Colonies from its "hate map." Furthermore, the group seemed unable to decide why Muslim Maajid Nawaz was guilty of "anti-Muslim extremism." It listed and removed many different reasons, one of which was Nawaz's visit to a strip club for his bachelor party.

The group also recently released a map of all Confederate monuments across America, which just happened to include elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. The SPLC's post publishing the map also warned of "turmoil and bloodshed" if Confederate monuments were not removed.

This map is especially troublesome, considering the SPLC's history of inspiring terror. This past month marked the fifth anniversary of a terrorist attack against the Family Research Center by Floyd Lee Corkins II.

Corkins broke into the FRC, planning to kill everyone in the building, and intending to carry his attacks elsewhere as well. He pled guilty to committing an act of terrorism and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. During an FBI interrogation, he said he targeted the FRC because of the SPLC "hate map."

The SPLC has also been connected to Bernie Sanders supporter James Hodgkinson, the man who shot Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) this summer. Hodgkinson "liked" the SPLC on Facebook, and the SPLC had repeatedly attacked Scalise — even after he apologized and distanced himself from the remarks that earned him a spot on the SPLC "extremist" list.

The SPLC also has a huge endowment ($328 million as of 2015), and The Washington Free Beacon recently reported that the group has sent multiple transactions to foreign entities, including two cash payments of $2.2 million to the Cayman Islands.

Why Google, Apple, GuideStar, and Amazon take the SPLC's "hate list" seriously is anyone's guess. James Damore, the former senior software engineer who wrote a memo attacking Google for fostering an "intellectual echo chamber," was likely on to something.

In her remarks to PJ Media, Jennifer Roback Morse noted that "the Left believes they are correct on the substance of the issues," but also denounced the hypocrisy.

Ironically, the RI president defended Vanco Payments' decision to stop doing business with her, even though it was inspired by the discredited SPLC "hate group" list. "They can do business with anybody they want, for any reason they want," Roback Morse said. "But I wish that florists and cake bakers and photographers were accorded the same privilege."

Many Christian bakers, photographers, and florists have been penalized by the government for refusing to serve at same-sex weddings. Roback Morse defended their free speech, religious freedom, and free association rights to opt out of such business, so she also defended Vanco's right to do the same with the Ruth Institute.

Would that the Southern Poverty Law Center followed such consistency.

Southern Poverty Law Center Gets Creative to Label 'Hate Groups'

Principled conservatives are lumped together with bigots.

By Megan McArdle

This is an actual hate group. It shouldn't be lost in a list of 900. Source: Hulton Archive, via Getty Images

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