My attempts to engage in public dialog with the SPLC have also been met with deafening silence. What is it, sir, that you fear? Why are you so unwilling to bring the issues to light in the public square? To this day, it would be my delight to have civil, constructive, public dialog regarding your “anti-gay” hate group listing. Are you willing?
On December 2, 2011, you partnered with Truth Wins Out, running an ad in a local DC paper that asked, “HAS ANYONE TRIED TO ‘CURE’ YOU OF BEING GAY? SHARE YOUR STORY. Help expose the lies behind the ‘conversion therapy and help other LGBT people who have undergone or are considering ‘therapy’ to ‘cure’ themselves.”
Is this now part of what the SPLC does? And in the interest of fairness and accuracy, have you put out similar ads in other cities asking for the stories of those who have been helped by such therapy? And are you aware of detailed, scientifically sound studies documenting that some are indeed helped and now gladly identify as “ex-gay”? (One of these recent studies has received the highest praise from respected academicians and psychologists.)
And how is that the SPLC has partnered with Truth Wins Out (TWO), an organization known for vicious, ugly, and mendacious attacks on individuals and groups? In one short article, Wayne Besen, founding executive director of TWO, referred to me as a pathological monster, a slick, sick, cynical, diabolical madman with a messiah complex, also accusing me of trying to incite a bunch of “unstable thugs . . . to engage in a violent physical clash with LGBT people.”
Mr. Potok, is not this defamatory hate speech? Do you approve of a close colleague of the SPLC calling fine Christian moms, dads, kids, and grandparents a bunch of “unstable thugs”? Do you approve of his dangerous and utterly false accusation that I am trying to incite these fine people to violence?
And what do you make of the comments of Dan Savage, perhaps America’s best-known gay activist, with regard to the FRC? He said, “These people won’t be satisfied until they are standing on top of a pile of dead, gay children.” Perhaps the SPLC has contributed to this inflammatory, toxic environment? And perhaps it is no coincidence that the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force has confirmed that the FRC shooter was also targeting the Traditional Values Coalition, another “anti-gay” Christian organization on your “hate group” list? Would it trouble you if, in fact, you and the SPLC were part of the potential mass-murderer’s inspiration?
I want to say clearly that I am not writing this letter out of concern for my own safety, nor am I afraid to suffer the consequences of my beliefs. Following Jesus is not meant to be easy or popular, and I have friends and colleagues who were tortured for their faith (have you heard of the late Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, celebrated author of Tortured for Christ?), stoned for preaching the gospel, and even killed. (Recently a young man close to my organization was murdered by Islamic terrorists while doing Christian, humanitarian work in a Muslim country.)
The purpose of this letter is to expose error and to pursue truth, and I am lovingly challenging you and your colleagues to sit down in a room together with the Christian leaders whose names and organizations you have defamed so each side can present their case. (I would also welcome this in a public forum, if preferable. On a personal level, I reaffirm my commitment to have public dialog on the relevant issues with any qualified representative from the SPLC or approved by the SPLC.)
In powerful and concise language, the apostle Paul wrote, “For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth” (2 Cor 13:8). And it was Jesus who said that, “whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God” (John 3:21).
The highest and best thing you could do is recognize the error of your recent listings and remove the leaders and organizations in question, thereby restoring a modicum of credibility. But if you are convinced that your listings are right, then let us have the private convocation of which I speak, and let the truth come forth for all to see.
I ask again: Have you anything to hide or fear? I appeal to you not to respond with a press release but to contact me directly. I am accessible to you and will take your call whenever possible.
Will you move forward and come into the open or will you retrench and retreat? The future of the SPLC could be at stake.
Director, Coalition of Conscience
President, FIRE School of Ministry
Host, Line of Fire radio broadcast