July 11, 2017
Users aren't the only ones upset by the Left-hand lurch of GuideStar -- so are fellow charity raters. The use of Southern Poverty Law Center's (SPLC) "hate" labeling came as a shock to the rest of the industry, which knows neutrality is the only way to be taken seriously. Although GuideStar took down the red banners from pages like FRC and at least 40 other conservative organizations, the damage had already been done.
At the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), President Dan Busby was sad to see GuideStar show its true colors. By aligning itself with the extremists at the SPLC -- a group, ironically, that gets an "F" from Charity Navigator's index -- he recognizes that GuideStar lost the respect of several industry colleagues and donors. "Faith-based organizations that espouse beliefs held for millennia and based in the Bible do not hold their views as a result of 'hate,'" Busby wrote in a letter to CEO Jacob Harold that was just made public. "Rather, they hold them because they believe that God Himself has decreed the beliefs in His Word."
"While we are pleased to learn that GuideStar has apparently reversed its course, at least to some extent, we nevertheless feel compelled to express our deep concerns regarding GuideStar's consideration of the practice of assigning such a label or any kind of similar practice in the future. The practice by GuideStar of labeling any 501(c)(3) organization as a hate group undermines GuideStar's credibility among nonprofit leaders as a neutral, objective source of information about the nonprofit sector... We believe it would be very damaging to the public service reputation of GuideStar for it to be viewed as just another advocacy organization."
For now, GuideStar is trying to stay out of the limelight and pick up the pieces of its shattered reputation. In the meantime, let's hope this blowback is a warning to other CEOs of the perils of picking sides in the culture wars -- especially when that side includes a partnership with a group so radical that the FBI, U.S. Army, and Obama Justice Department backed away.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.