Why Are Christian Right Groups Suddenly Creating Enemies Lists? February 26, 2015

Why Are Christian Right Groups Suddenly Creating Enemies Lists?

In 2012, a couple of years after the Southern Poverty Law Center designated the (anti-gay) Family Research Council a “hate group,” a shooter walked into FRC’s building and injured a security guard before being subdued (by the same guard) and later apprehended. The shooter even said he knew about FRC through the hate-group list.

Obviously, this was a tragedy and SPLC said as much, though they never removed the “hate group” designation. They felt it was warranted:

Contrary to what the FRC has repeatedly claimed, we do not list the FRC as a hate group because of its opposition to gay marriage or because of its religious beliefs. Instead, we list the FRC because it engages in baseless, incendiary name-calling and spreads demonizing lies about the LGBT community.

FRC disagrees, of course, but here’s the line that I want to point out:

[FRC President Tony] Perkins said. “I believe the Southern Poverty Law Center should be held accountable for their reckless use of terminology.”

If they think the designation is the problem — one that led to a shooting — then you have to wonder what Christian Right groups are now trying to accomplish by turning the tables on everyone else.

A couple of days ago, the American Family Association released a “Bigotry Map” listing atheist groups, Humanist groups, and (for some reason) AARP.

The whole list was a joke since groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation fight for neutrality and equal application of the First Amendment, not special privilege or anything remotely anti-Christian. (The Center For Inquiry even jokingly asked to be placed on the list.)

But AFA isn’t the only group doing this.

Last week, Liberty Institute named “5 Dangerous Enemies Against Your Christian Faith.” Those enemies included FFRF, the ACLU, American Atheists, the American Humanist Association, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State. It’s hardly worth explaining why these groups are not really against Christians (hell, the ACLU frequently defends Christians), but it seems they have no problem calling them “dangerous.” (FFRF relished the designation, saying “It’s clear that Liberty Institute envies FFRF’s effectiveness.”)

A few takeaways from all this:

I don’t think these Christian groups genuinely see everyone on their lists as the enemy. This is purely a fundraising scheme on their end. They need as many groups as possible to fill up that map, so they threw in organizations that just sound scary in order to say to donors: “Look at all these groups fighting against us! Give us money!”

If the Christian groups were so angry with the SPLC’s designation — to the point that they blamed SPLC for creating the environment that led to the shooting — what are they trying to accomplish by calling our side “dangerous enemies” or “bigots”? It’s almost as it they’re hoping someone commits a violent act against the church/state separation groups.

This whole charade would be much more effective if the Christian groups could point to instances where the groups they’re attacking attempted to stop Christians from practicing their faith or asked the government to treat Christians differently/worse. But those examples don’t exist. At most, our side is trying to roll back some of the special treatment Christians have received over the years — and Christians wrongly see that as us taking away their rights instead of bringing them back down to the proper level.

Look: if the Christian groups are declaring everyone who disagrees with their theology the “enemy,” it’s obvious they have nothing to complain about. The problem rests entirely with them, not the people fighting for equal rights.

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