Christian ministry sues watchdog group over hate label

A Florida-based evangelical ministry is suing a liberal watchdog organization that called it a hate group because of its stance against LGBT rights.

The federal religious discrimination lawsuit was filed this week by D. James Kennedy Ministries of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, against the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center. It seeks an unspecified amount of money.

The law center tracks extremist organizations, and it publicly names organizations it considers hate groups. The list includes the Christian organization, also known as Coral Ridge Ministries Media Inc., for its stance against LGBT rights.

The designation has led to the ministry being considered a hate group by a company that rates nonprofits, GuideStar USA Inc., and by Inc., according to the lawsuit. excluded the ministry from a donation program because of the label, according to the suit.

The lawsuit cites the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and contends the ministry is a victim of discrimination because it follows Christian teachings. In addition to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the suit names GuideStar and as defendants.

Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen called the lawsuit “meritless” and said the organization isn’t immune to criticism just because it claims to base its anti-LGBT positions on the Bible.

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