Through its AmazonSmile program, the world's largest online retailer donates 0.5% of a customer's purchases to a charity of his or her choice. Amazon relies on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to determine which groups are included or excluded in the program, and the SPLC has for years now considered Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) a "hate group."
Jay Hobbs, strategic campaigns and initiatives director at ADF, asserts that advocating for conservative Christian values does not make his organization a hate group. But the firm has been deemed as such for defending business owners like Lorie Smith, who is being forced by Colorado to create websites promoting messages that contradict her beliefs about marriage.
Hobbs adds that in not allowing customers to donate to ADF and other organizations like it, Amazon is taking away choice from "millions of American consumers."
The Daily Signal points out that critics across the political spectrum have voiced opposition to the idea that a mainstream legal nonprofit like ADF has found itself on the SPLC's list. Nadine Strossen, former president of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), for example publicly dissented from the "hate group" accusation against ADF, saying that such a claim "suppresses conversations we need to have and voices that should be heard."
Likewise, Michael Weinstein, founder and president of the secularist group Military Religious Freedom Foundation, has rejected ADF's policy positions but affirms the group's "integrity, compassion, character, empathy, honor, and concern for their fellow humans."
"One of the interesting things about all of this is that people that have worked for the SPLC have called it a money-making machine that bases its whole business model on bilking northern liberals," Hobbs notes. "The SPLC is one of the main recipients of funds through AmazonSmile. You can give to the SPLC if you are a supporter of what they're doing, and you can't give to Alliance Defending Freedom or other organizations that are conservative because of this same SPLC."
Hobbs calls it "a highly avoidable problem" that Amazon has the power to fix, and he concludes that it is "just wrong" that the company refuses to do so.