Law Firm Representing Kim Davis Deemed Hate Group

The Southern Poverty Law Center has classified the Liberty Counsel, the law firm representing Kentucky county Clerk Kim Davis, as a hate group, the Associated Press reported this week. According to Mark Potok, a senior official from the SPLC, the group has gone “way, way over the line.”

Following the legalization of marriage equality, county clerks were instructed to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples. Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, Davis refused, hiding behind the guise of religious freedom. Her actions landed her five days in jail for contempt of court.

According to the Liberty Counsel’s website, the group’s goal is “to preserve religious liberty and help create and maintain a society in which everyone will have the opportunity to discover the truth that will give true freedom.”

However, the organization has had a hard time with the “truth” part of their mission statement, which is just one of many causes for concern for the SPLC.

Lack of Authenticity in Recent Headlines

Mat Staver, who founded the Liberty Counsel with his wife Anita and currently serves as the chairman, told a crowd at a Family Research Council event that a photo circulating the Internet was of a group of at least 100,000 supporters of Davis praying for her in Peru. Eventually, however, it came out that the photo was actually about a year old and the group had nothing to do with Kim Davis. The group was forced to apologize and admit that the photo was not authentic. According to their statement, “It now appears that while prayer meetings did occur throughout Peru, the photograph presented to Mat Staver was an honest mistake and was of a different Christian assembly in a soccer field.” It is unclear how the group gained knowledge of any “prayer meetings” that did take place.

Recently, the group has also spread falsehoods regarding Davis’s meeting with Pope Francis. According to the Liberty Counsel’s website, “Speaking in English, Pope Francis encouraged Kim (who is on her fourth marriage): ‘Thank you for your courage.’ Urging her to ‘stay strong,’ he held out his hands and asked Kim to pray for him.” Staver, who was not present at the meeting, alleged that Davis and the Pope embraced and gave both Davis and her husband a rosary. When recounting the meeting in an interview with ABC News, Davis said, “Just knowing the Pope is on track with what we’re doing, and agreeing, you know, kind of validates everything.”

But according to subsequent statements from the Vatican, the Pope’s meeting with Davis should not have come with the implications the Liberty Counsel is publicizing. Rev. Federico Lombardi, a spokesman for the Vatican, initially tried not to speak about the meeting at all, saying, “I don’t deny that the meeting took place. But I have no comment to add.” After the mass media attention the meeting garnered, the Vatican released a longer statement, emphasizing that “[the Pope’s] meeting with [Davis] should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects.” In fact, it has since been said that the Vatican regrets the meeting between the Pope and Davis.

Support for Disgraced Practices

The Liberty Counsel has also publically supported practices that have been disproved. A statement on their website says, “There is no evidence that a person is born homosexual. And there is evidence that people can change. Our culture is being pressured with demands that our homes welcome, our daycares embrace, our schools indoctrinate, our businesses promote, and our laws reward this harmful sexual behavior.”

The adage of “there is evidence that people can change” implies that there is proof that people can alter or change their sexuality. This has been attempted through conversion therapy, a practice that intends to make gay people heterosexual. However, not only has this therapy not been proven to be successful, it has actually been proven to be very harmful, particularly for LGBT youth. The harmful practice is currently banned in four states (California, Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon, as well as the District of Columbia).

According to Staver, “It is irresponsible and reckless to call someone a hate group because you disagree with them.” In this case, though, what seems reckless are the lies spread by Mat Staver and the Liberty Counsel.

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