Amazon Removes Conservative Legal Group From Charity Smile Program Over SPLC 'Hate Group' Label

Amazon has great deals this Labor Day.
Amazon has great deals this Labor Day. | REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

Amazon has stopped allowing a conservative legal group from being eligible for its AmazonSmile program, reportedly due to the Southern Poverty Law Center classifying them as a "hate group."

The AmazonSmile program is a site that Amazon oversees in which a shopper can have 0.5 percent of their purchase price for certain items go to a nonprofit of their choosing.

The Alliance Defending Freedom announced Thursday that Amazon had dropped them from the Smile program and that the major online retail site used the SPLC's claims to justify their decision.

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ADF President and CEO Michael Farris sent a letter to Amazon in protest of the decision on Thursday, arguing that the site should refrain from using the SPLC to make decisions on what groups can and cannot be eligible for AmazonSmile.

"Although the SPLC did good work many years ago, it has devolved into a far-left propaganda machine that slanders organizations with which it disagrees and destroys the possibility of civil discourse in the process," wrote Farris.

"The group has been discredited by investigative journalists and charity watchdogs as a 'direct mail scam' that has seen its leaders amass enormous fortunes. It is no surprise that the United States Department of Defense and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have severed ties with the SPLC."

Farris added that he wanted to meet with Amazon leadership "to discuss our organization and explain why we should not be excluded from the AmazonSmile program."

"Also, we would gladly help Amazon establish a policy for participation in AmazonSmile that does not ban legitimate, well-respected, faith-based organizations like ADF," continued Farris.

Founded in 1971 to help with legal battles against groups like the Ku Klux Klan, in recent years the SPLC has garnered controversy for its designation of many conservative groups and individuals as hateful.

Critics have accused the SPLC of inciting violence against conservative individuals and organizations, linking them to the 2012 Family Research Council office shooting and the student protests against Charles Murray at Middlebury College earlier this year.

Following the shooting at the Family Research Council, the SPLC issued a statement saying that its organization "deplores all violence, and our thoughts are with the wounded victim, Leo Johnson, his family and others who lived through the attack."

"We have argued consistently that violence is no answer to problems in a democratic society, and we have strongly criticized all those who endorse such violence, whether on the political left or the political right," stated SPLC in 2012.

ADF is not the only conservative group to protest AmazonSmile barring them from being eligible for donations. Last August, D. James Kennedy Ministries filed a lawsuit against SPLC, Guidestar, and Amazon for their being removed from the program.

According to the suit, in January Amazon wrongfully denied DJK Ministries access to the AmazonSmile program due to the SPLC labeling the ministry a hate group for its opposition to homosexuality.

"SPLC acted knowingly, intentionally, and with actual malice in publishing the Hate Map that included the Ministry and in publishing the SPLC Transmissions to Guidestar that included the Ministry," read the suit, adding that "the Ministry suffered special damages in its exclusion from the AmazonSmile program as a result of SPLC's publication of the Hate Map and the SPLC Transmissions."

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