A ministry currently suing the Southern Poverty Law Center for being designated as an anti-LGBTQ hate group may soon learn the lesson about past actions coming back to bite.
First, a little background:
D. James Kennedy Ministries, based at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, has filed a federal lawsuit in Alabama against the Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center for calling the ministry a hate group. The lawsuit was filed Aug. 22 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama in Montgomery. The lawsuit alleges that the SPLC ‘illegally trafficked in false and misleading descriptions of the services offered by DJKM and committed defamation against DJKM arising from the publication and distribution of false information that libels the ministry’s reputation and subjects the ministry to disgrace, ridicule, odium, and contempt in the estimation of the public,’ according to a statement by the ministry.
The ministry is named for the late TV Evangelist D. James Kennedy, who was the longtime pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and host of the nationally syndicated ‘Coral Ridge Hour’ TV program. He died in 2007. Kennedy played a role in helping form the conservative Presbyterian Church in America denomination, which organized in Birmingham in 1973 at Briarwood Presbyterian Church.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has made it clear that anti-LGBTQ hate groups are designated so because they demonize the LGBTQ community in the most lurid, inaccurate terms:
The religious right in America has employed a variety of strategies in its efforts to beat back the increasingly confident LGBT rights movement. One of those has been defamation. Many of its leaders have engaged in the crudest type of name-calling, describing LGBT people as ‘perverts’ with ‘filthy habits’ who seek to snatch the children of straight parents and ‘convert’ them to gay sex. They have disseminated disparaging ‘facts’ about gays that are simply untrue — assertions that are remarkably reminiscent of the way white intellectuals and scientists once wrote about the ‘bestial’ black man and his supposedly threatening sexuality.
And that brings up to the late James Kennedy. The D. James Kennedy Ministries has a huge section dedicated to his life and his work. One thing it doesn’t have is when Kennedy endorsed the following 1986 comic book:
How do we know Kennedy endorsed this comic book? Because his endorsement is the first one on the back cover, with his official title as “Senior Minister, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.”
Kennedy said the following in his endorsement:
Dick Hafer [the comic book’s author] has produced a very accurate portrayal of homosexuality and the problem it poses to our nation and civilization. This unique book deserves an open-minded reading by all Americans, and especially by those who serve in leadership capacities.
For those don’t want to subject themselves to that, below are several images and pages from Deathstyle. Now before any of you laugh at what you see, read the list of endorsers again. They include a former Congressional leader and another right-wing organization still present in D.C.
Also, remember that while not as graphic as presented below, these images of the LGBTQ community are still peddled by religious right groups, some of which have excellent access to the White House with Trump in office:
By the way, just in case you are wondering, the “research” from this book comes from the discredited researcher whom I have mentioned on so many occasions: Paul Cameron.
SPLC has an extensive file on him and the anti-LGBTQ hate groups who still cite his junk science.
So, basically breaking this down, there are questions which need to be answered by the D. James Kennedy Ministries before it goes about declaring that it is being “persecuted for its religious beliefs” by SPLC. Most specifically, I’m curious to know if the ministry shares the opinion “expressed” by its namesake when he endorsed that awful booklet. If the ministry doesn’t, then I would recommend that it publicly denounces Kennedy’s past actions. If the ministry doesn’t want to do that, then I guess that answers a lot of questions as to its “hate group” status.
But at the very least, Kennedy’s endorsement brings up an interesting conundrum. After that awful shooting early this year in DC, many on the right attempted to link the assailant, James Hodgkinson, to SPLC because he reportedly “liked” its Facebook page. If one uses that logic, what can we say about the D. James Kennedy Ministries because its namesake endorsed a viciously homophobic comic?