D. James Kennedy Ministries has sued the Southern Poverty Law Center over the latter group naming the ministry a "hate group," AL.com reports.
According to the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Alabama where the SPLC is based, the designation was based on the ministry's opposition to homosexuality, which the ministry noted dates back to the founding of Christianity.
"These false and illegal characterizations have a chilling effect on the free exercise of religion and on religious free speech for all people of faith," said Frank Wright, CEO of D. James Kennedy Ministries. "After having given the SPLC an opportunity to retract, we have undertaken this legal action, seeking a trial by a jury of our peers, to preserve our own rights under the law and to defend the religious free speech rights of all Americans."
According to the suit, 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."
Amazon and Guidestar also are listed as defendants. According to the suit, the Amazon Smile program excluded it from its list of charities to which customers could donate because of the SPLC's "hate" designation.
The ministry is named after evangelist D. James Kennedy, who was pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida and was featured in the "Coral Ridge Hour" on television.
Kennedy died in 2007.
The SPLC, originally founded in 1971 to fight racism and other forms of discrimination, has in recent years come under criticism by conservative groups who say they are targeted simply because of traditional Christian stances on homosexuality.
The conservative Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. found itself on the SPLC's crosshairs. When LGBT volunteer Floyd Corkins entered the FRC's offices and shot a guard before being subdued, he said the SPLC's designation was his motivation.
The SPLC maintains its designation was not based on the FRC's stand on "traditional marriage," but because of the "FRC's distortion of known facts to demonize gay men as child molesters."
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