GuideStar, the country’s top clearinghouse and watchdog for non-for-profits, will stop using the Southern Poverty Law Center’s characterizations of which groups are “hate groups” following complaints that politics are playing a role in those designations.
Earlier this month, GuideStar implemented changes to its website, noting when a charity or organization was deemed a hate group by the SPLC. But that decision proved controversial, given some of the SPLC’s designations. For instance, the group considers Ayaan Hirsi Ali, David Horowitz and Daniel Pipes “anti-Muslim extremists,” and it has also listed conservative organizations like the Family Research Council and the Alliance Defending Freedom as “anti-LGBT hate groups.”
That places them on the SPLC list along with neo-Nazis, the Klu Klux Klan and skinheads. Conservatives complained to GuideStar, arguing that the designation was unfair.
One letter, sent to GuideStar by several of the nonprofits designated “hate groups,” called the SPLC “a hard-left activist organization.”
“As such, SPLC’s aggressive political agenda pervades the construction of its ‘hate groups’ listings. … The ‘hate group’ list is nothing more than a political weapon targeting people it deems to be its political enemies. The list is ad hoc, partisan and agenda driven,” the letter said.
Late last week, GuideStar relented. “We acknowledge there is a deep, nuanced conversation to be had with Americans of all political, cultural and religious backgrounds regarding how we address—and identify—hate groups,” the watchdog said in a statement.
GuideStar will consult “experts from across the political spectrum” before deciding whether it will reinstate “hate group” designations. The watchdog said, “We do believe that it is in line with our mission to provide as much information about nonprofit organizations as possible.”
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.