ABC News reports, under this headline:

From the story:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered a speech to an alleged hate group at an event closed to reporters on Tuesday night, but the Department of Justice is refusing to reveal what he said.

Sessions addressed members of the Alliance Defending Freedom, which was designated an “anti-LGBT hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2016, at the Summit on Religious Liberty at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, in Dana Point, California.

The event promised to “bring together prominent legal advocates, scholars, cultural commentators, business executives and church leaders to examine the current state of religious freedom” and “develop legal and cultural strategies to allow freedom to flourish in the United States and around the world.”

This is genuinely shocking to read. I went to the same annual ADF meeting last summer. It was a normal gathering of religious conservative lawyers and others, who talked about various challenges to religious liberty. Yet those scamming trolls at the Southern Poverty Law Center tagged them a “hate group,” and ABC News repeats that slur. What ABC says is technically true. SPLC does in fact call ADF a “hate group.” The shocking thing is that ABC News takes that incredible charge for granted, and uses it to trash both ADF and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Here’s a link to a PDF file from ADF that gives you the basic facts about the organization. Does this look like the moral equivalent of a neo-Nazi outfit to you?

Here’s the link to the SPLC page explaining why they labeled ADF a “hate group.”  You should be aware that if they say this about ADF, they must also say it about any church that upholds orthodox Christian teaching on sexuality. SPLC calls it “hate” — and again, ABC News repeats that vicious smear, because no doubt they think it’s true.

Mark my words, this is coming for every church and every Christian in America that holds to Biblical orthodoxy on sexuality. We will be regarded as no better than Klansmen by the media and others. I am grateful to the Attorney General for going to speak to ADF today. This kind of reaction from the media is a reminder of what our opponents think of us. The kind of people who regard Trump’s boilerplate speech in Warsaw last week as a farrago of white supremacist dog-whistling are the same kind of people who look at organizations like ADF — and churches — and see not ordinary Americans defending their religious liberty, but a confederacy of Kluckers.

This is what many critics of The Benedict Option don’t get (probably because they haven’t read the book): we in the Church had better start planning for this kind of world, because it’s coming fast. We have to fight it at every turn — supporting ADF and other religious liberty advocates in their courtroom fights is a critical part of that mission — but we have to have a Plan B in case that law and politics fail. Besides, even if ADF and its counterparts succeed in protecting religious liberty, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be tremendous pressure from the media and others in the overclass to stigmatize orthodox Christians as dangerous bigots and haters.

The SPLC is not remotely a non-partisan group. Would ABC News quote from Don Wildmon’s American Family Association calling the Human Rights Campaign a “hate group”? Of course not. But ABC News is so far removed from the lives of ordinary Americans, and what they believe and stand for, that they take SPLC’s disgusting slur as a putatively neutral description of an Evangelical Christian legal organization that fights for religious liberty.

What are you going to do in a world where your religious beliefs and practices are stigmatized in law and custom? When your church is designated a “hate group”? How are your kids going to hold on to the faith when doing so will cost them professionally, socially, and perhaps even legally? If you aren’t asking these questions of yourself and your church now, and making plans for the near future, you are being willfully blind.

UPDATE: Jeryl Bier in the Wall Street Journal:

Aided by a veneer of objectivity, the SPLC has for years served as the media’s expert witness for evaluating “extremism” and “hatred.” But while the SPLC rightly condemns groups like the Ku Klux Klan, Westboro Baptist Church and New Black Panther Party, it has managed to blur the lines, besmirching mainstream groups like the FRC, as well as people such as social scientist Charles Murray and Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a critic of Islamic extremism.

A clear illustration of the SPLC’s pervasive and insidious influence is the March riot at Middlebury College, where Mr. Murray had been invited to speak. “The SPLC is the primary source for the protesters at my events,” Mr. Murray told me. “It is quotes from the SPLC, assertions by the SPLC that drive the whole thing.”

Mr. Murray’s politics are libertarian, but the SPLC labels him a “white nationalist.” In reporting on the Middlebury fracas, numerous news organizations repeated the SPLC’s characterization without noting it was false. The AP even put it in a headline: “College Students Protest Speaker Branded White Nationalist.”

More:

Some journalists harbor doubts about the SPLC. “Any time a group like that is seen as partisan it undermines itself and its noble mission,” a network anchor told me on condition of anonymity. “Anti-LGBTQ bigotry is heinous, but classifying the Family Research Council in the same terms as Nazis did not help SPLC in its nonpartisan mission.”

Still, as long as journalists serve up what the SPLC dishes out, the group has little to gain by directly engaging its critics.