In an exclusive interview, AFP talked with a senior staffer at the Christian ministry taking a stand against the SPLC hatemongers. He explains the critical importance to every American of D. James Kennedy Ministries’s case, why the ministry also sued Amazon, and why we must prevail against real hate if the First Amendment is to have any meaning at all.
By Dave Gahary
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), one of the legal arms of the cultural Marxist gangsters running rough-shod over this once-great nation’s traditions and institutions, is being called on the carpet. No, not by any governmental agency or regulatory body, but by a conservative, Christian ministry, which is demanding answers as to why the SPLC believes it has the right to classify the Christian charity as a “hate group.”
As this newspaper reported in its Dec. 18 & 25, 2017 edition in the article “Christianity vs. the SPLC,” Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based D. James Kennedy Ministries (DJKM) has the SPLC in its sights and has filed a federal lawsuit against the organization. The importance of this case for free speech cannot be overemphasized.
DJKM became “the fastest-growing Presbyterian church in the U.S.” when at its peak its weekly television programming aired on more than 400 TV stations and four cable networks with an audience of 3.5 million viewers in 200 countries.
In an exclusive interview with AFP, DJKM senior staff member John Rabe, DJKM’s director of creative production and on-air host, delved into great detail about why the organization feels it is critical to stand up to the SPLC ) and what the group’s leaders are hoping to accomplish.
“Because [we take] a biblical position saying that marriage is a God-ordained institution between one man and one woman—which is simply what all Christians at all times have believed over 2,000 years—and because [we say] that marriage is a one-man one-woman union, and because we’ve said that sex is ordained by God,” explained Rabe, “for upholding those views and for broadcasting those views, we have been designated a ‘hate group’ by the SPLC.”
Rabe explained why the SPLC’s designations are dangerous.
“The SPLC sets themselves up as sort of the clearinghouse of information on hate groups in America,” he said, “and so they’re frequently quoted by the media [and] they are often relied upon by law enforcement groups. And because it’s taken seriously by so many, we decided the time has come to act.”
The lawsuit, filed Aug. 23, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, “alleges, among other things, that the SPLC illegally trafficked in false and misleading descriptions of the services offered by DJKM and committed defamation against DJKM arising from the publication and distribution of false information that libels the ministry’s reputation and subjects the ministry to disgrace, ridicule, odium, and contempt in the estimation of the public.”
Rabe explained the danger the SPLC poses to everyone’s free speech.
“They are trying to marginalize and ultimately silence Christians if they can designate you as a hater,” he said. “So if you can get someone designated as a hater and get their speech designated as hate speech, then you could say they’re not covered by the First Amendment and you can have the government silence them.”
“This lawsuit has been a long time coming,” Rabe continued, “and it’s a way of planting that flag to say, ‘Thus far and no farther,’ that it’s time to take a stand.”
DJKM was founded by pastor, evangelist, and broadcaster Dennis James Kennedy, who built Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church into a $37-million-a-year powerhouse. Kennedy was such a force that the day after his passing in 2007, President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush issued a statement saying they were “deeply saddened” by his death, calling him “a man of great vision, faith, and integrity. . . . Dr. Kennedy’s message of love and hope inspired millions through the institutions he founded.”
Rabe explained the genesis of the lawsuit.
“DJKM has continued on Dr. Kennedy’s mission,” he said. “We’ve continued promoting his viewpoints, using his sermons on our television programs, and those issues . . . include issues of sexuality. Well, as you probably know, in today’s culture, to take a biblical viewpoint on those issues—which is essentially a conservative viewpoint on those issues—will make you very unpopular with those who are intent on remaking our society upon new lines.”
Although the First Amendment to the Constitution was designed to protect the states from central government power, the SPLC’s arbitrary “hate group” ratings have the potential to put a serious chill on free speech.
Rabe continued: “The SPLC is a private organization and so it’s not the government, and the SPLC calling us haters is slanderous, but it’s not a violation of the First Amendment.
“But, where the religious liberty concerns come in and the First Amendment concerns come in is that often law enforcement agencies have relied upon the SPLC’s designations. The FBI has relied upon the SPLC’s designations, and so government entities are taking these designations of the highly ideological, far-left SPLC at face value.
“There is a danger in that, and that’s one of the reasons for this lawsuit as well—that the SPLC cannot be allowed to damage people by making these false claims about them, and that the government cannot rely at face value upon the designations of this highly partisan group. It’s part of a larger strategy that will ultimately threaten our First Amendment freedoms, designating people haters and trying to argue that hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment.”
If Americans understand the First Amendment, Rabe explained, “it was to protect dissenters; it is to protect unpopular speech. And so if it doesn’t protect ‘hate speech,’ whether it actually is hate speech or whether it’s just something that someone falsely designates hate speech, if the First Amendment doesn’t cover that, I don’t know what it really does cover.”
Rabe turned his sights on the SPLC and why it is so dangerous to this country.
“The [SPLC] engage[s] in a fallacy by lumping in groups like ours that simply promote mainstream, historic, Christian doctrine with actual violent hate groups,” he said. “We all recognize there is such a thing as a hate group; there are groups based along racial lines or others [that] will designate people for targeting and will incite violence against those kind of people—although [it’s] very interesting to note that radical Islam is largely absent from the SPLC’s hate maps. We’ve had mosques in America where terrorist attacks had been coordinated in the United States—in Virginia and elsewhere—and yet these mosques do not appear on the SPLC’s hate map. They’re very selective about the groups that they choose, and they end up lumping together Christian organizations—like the Family Research Council and DJKM and the Alliance Defending Freedom, who simply defends the First Amendment in court—together with groups like neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, which is extremely disingenuous.”
Rabe explained how the SPLC’s ostensible mission has swayed far from its beginnings.
“The SPLC was founded after the bulk of the civil rights movement by an attorney named Morris Dees in 1971,” Rabe said. “Early on, they fought some cases in court against the Ku Klux Klan and others and built a reputation as an anti-hate group organization that will do something about it during that period. However, if you look beyond the early ‘70s you will be very hard-pressed to find actual cases of the SPLC going up against true hate groups and being effective against them. What you instead find is that they’ve largely built an enormous fundraising machine [by] basically [scaring] Northeastern liberals who never met a Christian or never met a conservative into thinking that there are hate groups around every corner. They currently have—and this is not speculation, this is in their own financial filings—over $300 million in endowments right now, much of that sitting in offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands and elsewhere.”
Besides the SPLC, DJKM is also suing Amazon, “the world’s largest online shopping retailer,” headed by Jeff Bezos, who is on track to become the wealthiest person in history, worth over $100 billion.
Rabe explained why the online powerhouse is included in the lawsuit. “Amazon.com has been relying upon the SPLC’s hate group designations” for their charity program called AmazonSmile, he said. This program allows customers to donate a portion of the purchase price to a charitable organization, but Rabe said they were barred due to the SPLC’s classification.
“We applied to become one of the charity groups, and they refused us entrance into AmazonSmile,” Rabe explained. “The basis that they gave us was that ‘you’ve been designated by the SPLC as a hate group.’ We view this as religious discrimination because we have been falsely designated a hate group simply for holding traditional orthodox Christian beliefs on issues like sexuality.”
DJKM’s lawsuit is being litigated by Texas-based National Center for Life and Liberty, headed by David C. Gibbs III, who is on the ministry’s board of directors and is a frequent Fox News legal contributor. Gibbs litigated the Terri Schiavo case, the gripping 1990-2005 “right-to-die” legal matter that saw Theresa Marie “Terri” Schiavo in an “irreversible persistent vegetative state” with her husband wishing to remove her feeding tube. Schiavo’s parents challenged the medical diagnosis, and the prolonged series of legal challenges reached state and federal politicians including President George W. Bush, causing a seven-year delay before Ms. Schiavo’s feeding tube was removed, on March 18, 2005. She died 13 days later.
Rabe discussed the federal lawsuit, its cost, and its significance against the arguably out-of-control, rogue SPLC.
“I can tell you right now we do not have a $300 million bank account at DJKM, not anywhere near it,” said Rabe, “so this is a little bit of a David-and-Goliath type of situation. They are far, far larger than we are in terms of resources, in terms of their ability to just sort of overwhelm us with motions and with what lawyers call ‘punitive discovery,’ frivolous discovery claims. So we are gonna be up against it here, so anyone who feels led to help with that, we welcome that, as well as prayer.”
Those wishing to donate to support DJKM’s lawsuit can do so at djameskennedy.org/donate or via U.S. Mail to D. James Kennedy Ministries, P.O. Box 11184, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33339.
Dave Gahary, a former submariner in the U.S. Navy, prevailed in a suit brought by the New York Stock Exchange in an attempt to silence him. Dave is the producer of an upcoming film about the attack on the USS Liberty. See the website erasingtheliberty.com for more information.