GuideStar Wars: Charity Index No Longer Neutral

GuideStar Wars: Charity Index No Longer Neutral

June 22, 2017

The Southern Poverty Law Center was too intolerant for the U.S. Army. Too controversial for the FBI. And too inflammatory for the Obama Justice Department. But despite SPLC's baggage -- which includes connections to two liberal gunmen -- the extremists seem to have found a home at one of America's leading charity indexes. After a fan of SPLC's shot five people at last week's congressional baseball practice, most people couldn't distance themselves from the discredited group fast enough. Not GuideStar.

At a time when even the mainstream media is questioning SPLC, the charity index is rushing to embrace the "hate labeling" that inspired Floyd Corkins to walk into our lobby with the goal of killing as many people as possible. Now, just days after the shooting of House Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who is also branded an extremist on SPLC's website, most people are shocked that GuideStar -- whose calling card is its neutrality -- would use the liberal organization as a resource. But justify it they have. Now, when potential donors search at least 46 conservative organizations, they'll be greeted by a big red banner, alerting them that these charities were labeled "hate groups" by the SPLC, presumably to steer them away from contributing.

This sudden shift is less surprising when you consider the politics of GuideStar CEO Jacob Harold. A former employee of Greenpeace and the Rainforest Action Network, Harold isn't exactly the poster child of objectivity. His social media accounts leave no doubt where his allegiance lies. According to our friends at Liberty Counsel, who are also victims of this smear campaign, "Harold was a host for a NARAL Pro-Choice D.C. men's event in 2014, and he blogged for Huffington Post. He also donated to the Obama campaign in 2011 before joining GuideStar in 2012. His wife is also a pro-abortion advocate. Harold tweeted a picture of himself at the so-called "Women's March" in January 2017, holding a protest sign obviously directed against President Donald Trump." The message? "It turns out that facts matter."

Well, Mr. Harold, they matter here too. That's why 41 conservative groups and individuals are demanding that GuideStar remove the hate banners from their listings and return to their claimed position of neutrality that Americans expect. In a letter protesting the move, the signers write:

"Your designations are based on determinations made by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a hard-Left activist organization. As such, SPLC's aggressive political agenda pervades the construction of its 'hate group' listings."

"The SPLC has no bona fides to make such determinations. It is not a governmental organization using rigorous criteria to create its lists, and it is not a scientifically-oriented organization. The SPLC is merely another 'progressive' political organization... 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 SPLC doesn't even pretend to identify groups on the political Left that engage in 'hate.' Mosques or Islamist groups that promote radical speech inciting anti-Semitism and actual violence are not listed by the SPLC even though many have been publicly identified after terrorist attacks."

If anyone's guilty of hate, it's the organization defining it! SPLC's own Mark Potok made no bones about the group's ultimate agenda, saying, "Sometimes the press will describe us as monitoring hate crimes and so on.... I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups, to completely destroy them." And they think Christians are the threat? What's worse, SPLC is quite open about the fact that their labels are completely arbitrary. "Our criteria for a 'hate group,' first of all, have nothing to do with criminality or violence... It's strictly ideological."

As the Wall Street Journal argues in an explosive column, "The Insidious Influence of the SPLC," there isn't even a "veneer of objectivity" -- not at SPLC, and now not at GuideStar. "[W]hile the SPLC rightly condemns groups like the KuKlux Klan, Westboro Baptist Church, and the New Black Panther Party, it has managed to blur the lines, besmirching mainstream groups like FRC..." And that campaign has consequences, as WSJ points out. "The SPLC's work arguably contributes to the climate of hate it abhors..." After reminding people about Corkins's connection to the group, the editors go on to say that "SPLC found itself in the awkward position of disavowing the man who opened fire on Republican members of Congress during baseball practice [after it was discovered he "liked" SPLC on his Facebook page]."

Conservatives can only shake their heads. As we wrote to Harold, "Does it not concern you that within the past five years, the SPLC has been linked to gunmen who carried out two terrorist shootings in the D.C. area?" For GuideStar to abuse the trust of supporters and link arms with one of the Left's most disgraced organizations is a decision they will almost certainly come to regret. After all, it only exposes the index for what it has become: a politically-active arm of the liberal movement in America.

Join FRC and 40 other nonprofits in calling out GuideStar for their decision to use SPLC's bias hate labeling. Give GuideStar a rating on their Facebook page that reflects their hostility (click on the star rating system in the right column), and let them know that you disapprove of their decision to align with SPLC by leaving a comment on their page. Use hashtags #GuideStar and #NoLongerNeutral on Twitter and tag @GuideStarUSA and their CEO @JacobCHarold in your tweets. In the meantime, if you're looking for nonprofit reviews you can trust, check out Charity Navigator or the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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