Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My Second Letter to the SPLC

Letter #2

Law Office of Scott Douglas Lively
PO Box 2373, Springfield, MA 01101

October 1, 2008

Attorney J. Richard Cohen
Southern Poverty Law Center
400 Washington AvenueMontgomery, AL 36104

Dear Mr. Cohen,

I am an attorney and President of Abiding Truth Ministries, based in Temecula, California. On November 1, 2007 I sent a letter to your organization on behalf of the pro-family organization Watchmen on the Walls, respectfully asking you to reconsider your decision to list that organization as a hate group. You did not respond to the substantive points of my argument except to correct a factual error on your website regarding my book The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party. I thank you for the correction. However, you maintained your posture relative to the Watchmen group, and, to my great disappointment, added my own organization, Abiding Truth Ministries, to your list of “hate” groups in your 2008 report.
In my November 1st letter, addressed to Mr. Dees, I wrote:

I found it very surprising that on your website, which is dominated by the theme of hatred, I couldn’t find a definition of the term, as you use it, anywhere. This is especially odd, since I know you are a law center, and clear definition of terms is indispensable in the practice of law. If I am mistaken, please advise me where I can find this information on your site, because I do not want make the same mistake toward you that you have made toward me.

I will not impugn your motives, but I know that others on the Left refuse to define hatred because that would establish a standard by which they, and the organizations that share their views, could be measured. For example, if one uses the dictionary.com definition “intense dislike; extreme aversion or hostility,” then much of the content of your own website, as it relates to groups on your list could reasonably to be considered “hate.“ I don’t have a problem with that. Frankly, I hate what most of those groups do also. I hate racism, extremism that leads to violence, and irrational bigotry as much as I disapprove of homosexuality. But I don‘t hate racists, bigots or homosexuals: they all need and deserve the love of Jesus just as much as I do.
I urge you to take leadership on this question and clearly set forth the definitions and criteria that you believe we should all use to judge these matters. Frankly, I don’t know how you can offer to teach law enforcement about “hate” groups without such objective standards. Perhaps they are included in your teaching materials not accessible on the website. If so, please extend me the courtesy of sending me a copy of the relevant passages or telling me where I can find them.

Your website has one additional deficiency in that it does not include any references whatsoever to hate-based attacks on Christians. I searched “attacks against Christians,” “against Christians,“ “Christian victim,” “victim was a Christian,” “church-burnings,” and a number of other intuitive phrases. I didn’t find a single item in which a Christian was identified as a victims of hate or discrimination. However, these search terms pulled up numerous items in which hate-groups and individual perpetrators were identified as Christian. Surely you are not ignorant of the many hate-motivated incidents in recent years in which Christians were the targets?

Once again, if I’m wrong, and this information is published on your website, please direct me to it. Assuming I’m right, however, this begs the question “why is it omitted?”.

I decline to draw any conclusions here, and give you the benefit of the doubt that the concerns I’ve raised are simple errors and/or oversights on the part of your staff. However, I would hope that, as a leading, indeed legendary, figure in the field of civil rights, you would take immediate action to correct these mistakes.

As I stated above, your organization did not respond to these issues. Neither, in the eleven months since I notified you, have you done anything to address them on your website. I must therefore conclude that the glaring anti-Christian bias in your materials accurately reflects your perspective and ideology, and that the lack of clear, objective criteria for determining who is a “hater” is intentional. This, of course, by any reasonable standard disqualifies you as an moral arbiter on issues, such as homosexuality, where Christian beliefs or values are in conflict with those of other groups.

Irrespective of the above, my organization does not meet even the vague basis by which you categorize “anti-gay” hate groups: “organizations that go beyond mere disagreement with homosexuality by subjecting gays and lesbians to campaigns of personal vilification.” However, even if you can stretch these term to include us, the same must certainly be true of virtually every “gay rights” group in the public sphere as they address Bible-believing Christians, negating any justification for singling out my organization.

Therefore, this letter is to ask you to immediately remove Abiding Truth Ministries from your list of “hate” groups.

Please note that this is not an open letter. I am not holding you up to public scorn or scrutiny on the issues herein. My only goal is to protect my organization from being falsely characterized as a hate group. If you immediately remove ATM from your list I will consider the matter closed and will not seek to cause you any embarrassment by publicizing your action outside of reporting it to my subscribers. You have my word.

However, if you choose not to accede to my request within a reasonable time, I will take the liberty of making the contents of this letter public, and may take further action as appropriate.

Frankly, I submit that you would provide a much more valuable service to our society if you were to promote a more balanced and objective approach to the homosexual issue that accommodates instead of condemns the views of Bible-believing Christians. I would be pleased to discuss such an objective with you at your convenience.

Dr. Scott Lively
President, Abiding Truth Ministries

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