D. James Kennedy Ministries has filed a lawsuit against Amazon, Guidestar, and the Southern Poverty Law Center, citing defamation and religious discrimination.
Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, Montgomery Division on Wednesday, DJK Ministries provided The Christian Post with a copy of the suit.
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. "SPLC's conduct in making these publications was beyond the reckless disregard for the truth standard required by Alabama law for punitive damages."
DJK Ministries' suit argued "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."
DJK Ministries President Frank Wright said in a statement emailed to CP on Wednesday that the purpose of the lawsuit was "to right a terrible wrong."
"Those who knowingly label Christian ministries as 'hate' groups, solely for subscribing to the historic Christian faith, are either woefully uninformed or willfully deceitful. In the case of the Southern Poverty Law Center, our lawsuit alleges the latter," said Wright.
"After having given the SPLC an opportunity to retract, we have undertaken this legal action, seeking a trial by a jury of our peers, to preserve our own rights under the law and to defend the religious free speech rights of all Americans."
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.
Earlier this year, DJK Ministries released a documentary film titled "Profits of Hate," which criticized the SPLC for marginalizing millions of conservative Christians in the United States.
In an interview with CP in July, Wright explained that they made the film because the SPLC was "at the top of our list" of entities that pose "significant existential threats to religious freedom and to Christian ministries like ours."
"If you support traditional marriage, you're a hater. If you support the sanctity of human life, you're a hater. But also if you support immigration reform, you're a hater. If you're concerned about Islamic radicalism, you're a hater," Wright said.
"The Southern Poverty Law Center has literally descended into nothing more than an attack arm of the liberal leftist agenda in America."