Mike Buford, of the Tulare County Prayer Breakfast Team, takes exception to comments posted here and at my blog at my Alternating Currents blog at the Visalia Times Delta's website. In a letter to the editor, Mr. Buford says:
BEWARE OF SPLC
I certainly hope people see what is happening to our freedom in the wake of the redefinition of marriage.
A letter by Jim Reeves (May 1) complained about the speaker at the recent Tulare County Prayer Breakfast. The speaker was Tony Perkins, a former elected official, a veteran of the United State Marine Corps, and a former police officer, who is now head of an organization that has promoted Christian values in our nation's capital for more than 30 years.
In fact, the Family Research Council is the organization that spearheaded the successful effort last year to secure the release of Mariam Ibraheem, the Sudanese mother sentenced to die for her Christian faith.
The complaint was focused on a claim by a liberal advocacy group, Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that has actually been linked to domestic terrorism in a federal court of law. The activities of this organization are so questionable that the FBI dropped them as a resource and the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army have removed SPLC's materials from their programs.
The SPLC has become the premier anti-Christian organization and in its push to redefine marriage, labels anyone who opposes them as a "hate group." I cannot think of anything more un-American. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion is essential to the future of our nation.
We must not allow this type of intimidation and silencing of the views of a majority of Americans.
The "link" to the Southern Poverty Law Center and a domestic terrorist is, in the criminal's own
words, "I found them online, did a little research, went to the website, stuff like that." Hardly the stuff of conspiracy, except in the right-wing echo chamber.
The FBI still lists SPLC as a group it works with, check out their page at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/civilrights/hate_crimes/overview , scroll down to "Public Outreach" and find them listed with other nationally recognized civil rights organizations. (Several Federal agencies have removed various organizations, the SPLC included, from some pages. It's a policy of linking only to government sites. The FBI didn't "drop" them.)
The SPLC has very specific requirements for inclusion on their hate group lists. You don't make it just because you "oppose" them. Groups have to work very diligently to make the cut.
I've noticed that since SPLC has branched out from the Klan and neo-nazi skinhead groups, and started identifying religious organizations as hate groups, that the right has begun vilifying them, in an effort to discredit. The SPLC was fine, until it started highlighting the hate coming from these groups. Now, it's an "anti-Christian organization".
As for Perkins himself, he has said, on the record, gay rights advocates are "going to start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians".(June 2014) "While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. ... It is a homosexual problem." Family Research Council website, 2010. Both are blatantly false. This is why I call him a liar.
Perkins has also recently appeared on television claiming the majority of Americans oppose marriage equality. That hasn't been true for some time now, and Perkins' knows it. He just can't bring himself to accept the fact, and continues to lie about it.
It is indicative how quickly and often a critizism of a religious organization is twisted into charges of "intimidation and silencing". Conservative Christians have, as they have for centuries, claimed victimhood for themselves, whenever anyone challenges them. Mr. Buford has fallen into the same pattern. My critizism of Perkins as the Prayer Breakfast's invited speaker is more along the lines of "you could easily have found someone much more positive, uplifting, and Christ-affirming, than Perkins." That your organization picked him, tells us all a lot about your real values.
Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, and now Tony Perkins. All brought to our area by local conservatives. Who next?