Leftist group in UK demands AmazonSmile drop BGEA, Focus on the Family from charity list

Amazon, the second-largest U.S. based corporate employer in the world, lays off several hundreds of employees.
Amazon, the second-largest U.S. based corporate employer in the world, lays off several hundreds of employees. | Reuters/Charles Patiau

A left-leaning website is pressuring Amazon to drop several Christian organizations, including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, and Alliance Defending Freedom, from its AmazonSmile charity because of their biblical views against homosexuality, according to a report.

Dozens of Christian groups are raising funds through AmazonSmile, which allows customers to choose a charity to receive proceeds from their purchases, “despite the company’s policies against discrimination based on sexual orientation,” says an “investigation” published by the openDemocracy website days before Christmas Day.

“... openDemocracy research has discovered that more than 40 organizations listed on the US AmazonSmile platform publicly oppose LGBT rights and equality,” it argues.

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About the BGEA, it claims, “Its president, Franklin Graham, has called Satan the architect of same-sex marriage and Islam ‘evil’ and ‘wicked.’ This year, several U.K. venues pulled out of hosting a tour by Graham because of such views.”

The U.K.-based group openDemocracy says it has presented Amazon with a dossier of research into the alleged “anti-LGBT activities and statements of more than 40 groups listed on the US platform — and asked if the company would investigate if they had broken their Participation Agreement.”

“If at any point an organization violates this agreement, its eligibility will be revoked,” a spokesperson from the tech giant was quoted as saying.

A BGEA spokesperson told openDemocracy that it “does not engage in unlawful discrimination and we do not promote intolerance. We hope AmazonSmile will continue to respect the rights and dignity of all people, and won’t discriminate against faith-based groups based solely on their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Amazon told openDemocracy that since 2013, it “has relied on the US Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Southern Poverty Law Center to provide the data for these determinations.”

Critics of the SPLC have accused it of inciting violence against conservative individuals and organizations, linking it to the 2012 shooting at the Family Research Council and student protests against Charles Murray at Middlebury College in 2018.

After the shooting at FRC’s headquarters eight years ago, the assailant, Floyd Lee Corkins II, said he was incited by the SPLC’s list of so-called “anti-gay” organizations which included the FRC, and told FBI agents after the attack that he wanted to “make a statement against people [who worked at FRC].”

Last June, Amazon banned conservative nonprofit FRC from its AmazonSmile program.

In response, Kay Coles James, president of The Heritage Foundation, wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Times.

“While Amazon customers can use the AmazonSmile program to donate a portion of each purchase to left-leaning organizations like Planned Parenthood, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and the Center for American Progress (and to be fair, to many right-leaning organizations, too), Amazon has decided to single out a few well-known conservative organizations like FRC and ADF from receiving part of the tens of millions of dollars the program raises each year from customers,” James wrote.

The Scottsdale, Arizona-based Christian legal firm Alliance Defending Freedom was banned from the AmazonSmile program in 2018 after SPLC labeled it as a hate group due to its biblical views on sexuality.

“The SPLC itself is a completely discredited organization,” James wrote. “It bills itself as being on the front lines in the fight against racial inequality and injustice, yet last year its own staffers accused its leadership of years of racial and gender discrimination and of widespread sexual harassment. Whistleblowers said that the organization had a ‘systemic culture of racism and sexism within its workplace.’ As a result, its co-founder and president were both forced out.”

In July, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida urged Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos to sever the company’s ties with the SPLC during the House Judiciary Subcommittee’s hearing on antitrust.

During the hearing on Capitol Hill with the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, Gaetz pressed Bezos over his company’s relationship with the SPLC, which it partners with to decide which organizations can receive donations through the AmazonSmile program.

“I am not here accusing you as someone who would ever traffic in hate, but it seems you have empowered people who do. I’m particularly talking about the Southern Poverty Law Center,” Gaetz told Bezos.

Amazon, Gaetz asserted, allows the SPLC to “dictate who can receive donations on your AmazonSmile platform.” Listing organizations the SPLC has labeled as “extremists,” Gaetz named several faith-based organizations, including Catholic Family News, Catholic Family Ministries, the American Family Association, the FRC, and the Jewish Defense League.

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