|Attorney General Jeff Sessions (top) insist that the Alliance Defending Freedom (logo at the bottom) is not a hate group in spite of extensive proof which says otherwise.|
Wednesday night, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he does not believe that the Alliance Defending Freedom is a hate group even though it has been proven that, among other things, the group has falsely conflated homosexuality with pedophilia and worked to imprison gays in foreign countries simply for being gay.
Sessions said these comments during a speech at the ADF's Summit for Religious Liberty. He also blasted the Southern Poverty Law Center, the organization giving ADF the designation:
"I wanted to come back here tonight partially because I wanted to say this: You are not a hate group," Sessions told attendees (video below) at the ADF's Summit on Religious Liberty, as Towleroad reports.
"When I spoke to ADF last year, I learned that the Southern Poverty Law Center had classified ADF as a ‘hate group.’ Many in the media simply parroted that as a fact," Sessions charged. "They have used this designation as a weapon and they have wielded it against conservative organizations that refuse to accept their orthodoxy and choose instead to speak for their conscience and their beliefs. They use it to bully and intimidate groups that fight for religious freedom, these constitutional rights of the American people."
Via his speech, Sessions performed the modus operandi of ADF and other religious right groups which SPLC have called out, i.e. playing the victim and using the "religious liberty" card in hopes of diverting attention from what caused them to be labeled as hate groups in the first place.
In the case of the Alliance Defending Freedom, the organization has a long history of demonizing the LGBTQ community, working to undermine LGBTQ equality, and using the force of the law against the LGBTQ community. In his speech, Sessions claimed that SPLC has no proof to back up its claim that ADF is a hate group.
SPLC has extensively documented research from the time of the Alliance Defending Freedom's founding to the present, making sure to point the numerous times the group attacked the LGBTQ community.
SPLC even has a timeline including such items as:
2001 - 2010: Claims on its website that “attacks on family values include efforts to allow practicing homosexuals to adopt children and foster parents;” and “allow practicing homosexuals to serve openly in the military.” ADF vows to oppose these attacks because “weakening the family and undermining the values that support it will ultimately destroy our society” and impact religious civil liberties. (2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)
2003: Alan Sears, then-president of ADF (he was president until January, 2017) publishes a book he co-wrote with then-ADF colleague Craig Osten titled The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today, which was heavily advertised for sale on the ADF website and offered in fundraising pitches for years. The book is the authors’ attempt to describe how far the conspiracy of “the homosexual agenda” has infiltrated the country and undermined Christianity through things like media and educational institutions. Sears and Osten described the media campaign conducted by LGBT activists in the 70s and 80s (as summarized in the account After The Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90s) to "a war of propaganda, just as Hitler did so masterfully in Nazi Germany." (p. 27) “An entire book could be written on the subject of the entertainment industry’s promotion of homosexual behavior, but it is our goal to give you a brief overview of each subject so that you understand the number of cultural fronts in which the homosexual agenda is being pushed.” (p. 44) The authors ask, “How far down the road have homosexual activists taken us to their goal of unbridled sexual behavior and the silencing of the church?” (p. 14) “The very future of our nation is at risk if the homosexual agenda continues to advance unchecked,” (p. 27) the authors state.
In addition, SPLC also points out that ADF supports sterilization laws for transgender men and women in foreign countries.
In February 2017, the media watchdog group Media Matters for America published 10 facts about ADF including:
SPLC Labeled ADF A Hate Group Because Of Its Extreme, Demonizing Lies About LGBT People. SPLC added ADF to its list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups because ADF’s leaders and affiliated lawyers have “regularly demonized LGBT people, falsely linking them to pedophilia, calling them ‘evil’ and a threat to children and society, and blaming them for the ‘persecution of devout Christians.’” As SPLC has repeatedly clarified, it does not list organizations as anti-LGBTQ hate groups on the basis of “opposition to same-sex marriage or the belief that the Bible describes homosexual activity as sinful.”
ADF Has Expanded Its Anti-Choice, Anti-LGBTQ Extemism Internationally. While ADF has largely run out of options for promoting the criminalization of homosexuality in America, the group has taken its anti-sodomy agenda overseas. ADF has actively worked to promote and defend anti-sodomy laws that criminalize gay sex in Jamaica, Belize and India. In 2010, the United Nations granted special consultant status to ADF, allowing the group to help shape international human rights policy and treaties. More recently, the group has become involved in the Organization of American States, where ADF’s mission has been battling “abortion and radical sexual agendas.”
ADF Believes In A “Homosexual Agenda” Dedicated To Destroying Christianity. ADF founder Alan Sears literally wrote the book on the alleged “homosexual agenda” -- his 2003 book The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today compared the gay "propaganda" movement to what "Hitler did so masterfully in Nazi Germany, to get the American public on their side." As SPLC noted, ADF “has also promoted the idea of a ‘homosexual agenda’ -- a nefarious scheme to destroy Christianity and, eventually, civilization.”
Sessions claims that SPLC is weaponizing the hate group designation. There is weaponizing going on here but it's being committed by Sessions.
If it was proven that ADF was conflating being an African-American with pedophilia,
or ADF was claiming that people of the Jewish faith was attempting to destroy Christianity,
or ADF supported sterilization laws which would affect women in foreign countries, there would be no question that the group would called a hate group by a large part of society with little or no argument.
ADF has done all three of things to the LGBTQ community, but as long as they and folks like Jeff Sessions can claim," we are simply acting in accordance to our personal religious beliefs," they can expect an exemption card.
But nothing justifies discrimination, bearing false witness, and laws which would harm your neighbor. Not fear, hatred, or prejudice. And definitely not religious beliefs.
It's a shame that Sessions doesn't feel that way. And it gives us a spooky view of just what he is planning via his recently announced "religious liberty" task force.