The Alliance Defending Freedom has been deemed ineligible for participation on AmazonSmile, the online retailer’s charity platform, after the Southern Poverty Law Center added the socially conservative legal group to its list of “hate groups.”
On AmazonSmile, customers can select a charitable organization to receive donations equal to .5 percent of eligible purchases. Participating organizations are prohibited from promoting “intolerance, discrimination or discriminatory practices based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, or age,” or engaging in “hate, terrorism, or violence.”
Amazon relies upon the Southern Poverty Law Center and the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control to determine which registered organizations run afoul of that policy.
In 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center added the Alliance Defending Freedom to its list of “hate groups.” The hate list classifies white supremacist organization, such as the Westboro Baptist Church and the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, in the same terms as socially conservative outfits like the American Family Association, Family Research Council and Liberty Council.
A spokesperson for Amazon declined to comment.
ADF General Counsel Michael Farris accused Amazon of “hiding behind the Southern Poverty Law Center.”
“SPLC is not a neutral watchdog organization,” Mr. Farris said in a statement. “Instead, it raises money by slandering people and organizations who disagree with its views.”
ADF has been involved in 52 successful cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Its precedent-setting victories include Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Burwell, a case linked with the 2014 Hobby Lobby decision that allowed for-profit religious corporations to deny employees contraception and abortifacient coverage mandated by the Affordable Care Act.
The group is also defending Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, who declined to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony, citing his Christian beliefs.
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission ordered Mr. Phillips to bake wedding cakes for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples or stop designing custom wedding cakes altogether. He opted to stop baking wedding cakes, which comprised about 40 percent of his business. The commission also ordered Mr. Phillips to undergo “re-education” training and file quarterly “compliance” reports.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument for the case in December.
There are nearly a million charities to choose from on AmazonSmile, including the National Rifle Association Foundation and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
The SPLC is a fundraising powerhouse with an endowment approaching a half billion dollars.
The Weekly Standard reported that the group raised $132 million in fiscal 2017 and keeps nearly $70 million in foreign investments in the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands and Bermuda.
Of the $60 million in expenses incurred by the SPLC in 2017, $3 million went to “legal case expenses,” $3 million to publications and $3.7 million to “other educational projects.”
Fundraising expenses totaled $12.6 million, while $11 million went to legal salaries and $7 million to educational salaries.
• Bradford Richardson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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