President of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Richard Cohen, welcomes a ruling against Coral Ridge Ministries Media, also known as D James Kennedy Ministries.

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COHEN, above, described a lawsuit brought against the SPLC as ‘meritless’ after the 11th Circuit appeals court upheld an earlier decision that found that the church had regularly maligned LGBT communities.

According to PinkNews, the Fort Lauderdale church filed a lawsuit in 2019 alleging that the SPLC  had defamed it by designating it a hate group.

The suit also included a religious discrimination claim against Amazon for banning the mega-church from a lucrative charity partner programme due to its hate group status.

The ministry’s challenge was rejected by a federal judge in 2019, and on Wednesday (July 28) the 11th Circuit appeals court upheld the decision.

In a 15-page opinion, both claims against the SPLC and Amazon were struck down on the basis that the SPLC hadn’t “acted with actual malice” by labelling the church a hate group.

US Circuit Judge Charles Wilson wrote:

Coral Ridge did not sufficiently plead facts that give rise to a reasonable inference that SPLC ‘actually entertained serious doubts as to the veracity’ of its hate group definition and that definition’s application to Coral Ridge, or that SPLC was ‘highly aware’ that the definition and its application was ‘probably false’.

However, the church insisted:

Nowhere in the purpose or action of the ministry is there HATE or any room for HATE.

The SPLC first designated the megachurch as an active hate group in 2013, when it was still known as Truth in Action, on the basis that it maligns the LGBT+ community by portraying it as “perverted” and a threat to the nation.

The resounding decision in favour of the SPLC means Coral Ridge Ministries Media remains ineligible to join the AmazonSmile programne, which allows shoppers to donate 0.5 per cent of the cost of purchases to charities.

Cohen said:

We list the D James Kennedy Ministries through which Coral Ridge does business as a hate group because it maligns the entire LGBT community, portraying it as perverted and a threat to the nation.

The fact that Coral Ridge claims its statements about the LGBT community are biblically based doesn’t immunise it from criticism. We have a First Amendment right to express our opinions, just as Coral Ridge has a right to express its opinions.

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