In August 2012, Jessica Prol Smith was working as a writer and editor for the Family Research Council. She described her reasons for working at FRC the way many who support the organization would, that it cares about “protecting the family, promoting the dignity of every human life and advocating for religious liberty.”
Opponents, such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, claim FRC hates LGBT people and demonizes the organization for supporting traditional marriage and opposing abortion. The SPLC listed the conservative organization as a “hate group” on its own list, putting FRC on the same level as the Ku Klux Klan.
Smith recently published an op-ed in USA Today about the SPLC and how it is itself “a hate-based scam” that nearly caused her murder.
“I’ll never forget the moment I learned we were on lockdown. It was Aug.15, 2012,” Smith wrote. “My frustration mingled with fear. Trapped on the sixth floor, we knew someone had been shot. We knew we couldn’t leave yet. We knew little else.”
While trapped upstairs, Smith described what she and her coworkers learned after about the situation downstairs:
My coworker and friend Leo wasn’t armed, but he’d played the quick-thinking and inadvertent hero, disarming a young man on a mission to kill me and as many of my colleagues as possible. The gunman had packed his backpack with ammo and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches — later admitting that he’d planned to smear them on our lifeless faces as a political statement. Leo took a bullet in the arm but managed to disarm and hold the attacker until law enforcement arrived.
The man who committed the attack – intent on killing people who worked for the FRC – later admitted that he targeted the organization because it was listed on the SPLC’s hate list.
As Smith noted, the SPLC is not a monitor of hate, but an organization that instead intends “to intimidate and mislead for raw political power and financial benefit.”
“For years, former employees revealed, local journalists reported and commentators have lamented: the Southern Poverty Law Center is not what it claims to be,” Smith wrote. “Not a pure-hearted, clear-headed legal advocate for the vulnerable, but rather an obscenely wealthy marketing scheme. For years, the left-wing interest group has used its ‘hate group’ list to promote the fiction that violent Neo-Nazis and Christian nonprofits peacefully promoting orthodox beliefs about marriage and sex are indistinguishable. Sometimes, it’s apologized to public figures; it’s smeared and recently paid out millions to settle a threatened defamation lawsuit.”
The left-wing media giants still use SPLC as a legitimate source, even as the organization has faced significant issues this year. Its founder was fired for alleged sexual harassment and racial discrimination. Its president, who fired the founder, then resigned for overseeing the same problems. The organization is now grappling with internal strife.
At the beginning of April, Sen. Tom Cotton sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, requesting an investigation into the SPLC’s status as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Cotton accused the organization of “fundrais[ing] off of defamation.”