DJKM filed a defamation and discrimination lawsuit against the SPLC and Amazon, saying the SPLC falsely accused DJKM of being a "hate group." The designation resulted in Amazon excluding DJKM from Amazon's "Smile" charity program.
A federal district court dismissed DJKM's case, as did the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. As a result, DJKM is now weighing an appeal to the Supreme Court.
"This is a situation where D. James Kennedy Ministries has definitely been injured by what the SPLC has done to them," says David Gibbs III, president and general counsel with the National Center for Life and Liberty (NCLL) and lead counsel on the case involving DJKM. "When you look at reputational injury, when you look at financial harm from loss of donors, the increased security costs and other things, this is very damaging. And we believe the SPLC's intention is to damage and to hurt organizations that hold to some of these traditional Christian positions."
Gibbs adds that this is not just defamation involving hurt feelings or one side not liking what the other is saying. "This has a direct impact," he says.
"Many people are aware that at the Family Research Council up in Washington, D.C. -- someone actually showed up after looking at the SPLC map and shot a security guard," recalls Gibbs. "So while SPLC is listing this as a 'warning' about hate groups, that, at times, can actually foster hate or injury to these organizations."
The NCLL president says the SPLC's "horrible" list includes some "particularly heinous organizations" with which traditional Christian ministries should not be lumped.