The Family Research Council (FRC) is calling for an apology after the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) decided to classify the Christian conservative organization as a "hate group" because of their anti-gay rhetoric.
FRC president Tony Perkins accused the SPLC of engaging in a "deliberately timed smear campaign."
This week the SPLC listed 18 "hate groups" -- the FRC among the most prominent of them -- which the law center says "have continued to pump out demonizing propaganda aimed at homosexuals and other sexual minorities."
Perkins responded with a published statement Wednesday, blasting the SPLC for being a "massively funded liberal organization that operates under a veneer of public justice when, in fact, they seem more interested in fundraising ploys than fighting wrongdoing."
He called "on the Southern Poverty Law Center to apologize for this slanderous attack and attempted character assassination."
Following a wave of prominent anti-gay violence across the country, SPLC said it timed its focus on anti-gay sentiment to the scheduled unveiling of FBI crime statistics.
The latest issue of SPLC's quarterly magazine "Intelligence Report," which publishes their list of "hate groups," analyzes crime data to conclude gays are the minority most targeted in hate crimes.
Mark Potok, editor of "Intelligence Report," noted in the Winter 2010 issue that FRC's Tony Perkins is a "key critic of anti-bullying programs" and criticized Perkins' position that gay activists are exploiting recent suicides to push their agenda.
"The leaders of this movement may deny it, but it seems clear that their demonization of homosexuals plays a role in fomenting the violence, hatred and bullying we're seeing," said Potok in the magazine's press release.
Potok contrasted the "hard core of the anti-gay religious right" to that of another prominent Christian organization, Focus on the Family, whose anti-gay positions he considered more moderate.
In profiling the 18 groups of concern, the SPLC magazine noted that "viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate group."
The magazine's description of FRC focuses attention on research fellows Tim Dailey and Peter Sprigg, who are charged with circulating "false accusations linking gay men to pedophilia."
It further mentions Sprigg's comment in 2008 when asked about uniting gay partners during the immigration process: "I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them."
Although the article says Sprigg later apologized for the remark, it continues on to criticize Sprigg's subsequent statements that gay behavior should be outlawed and that allowing gay people to serve openly in the military would lead to an increase in gay-on-straight sexual assaults.
In 2009, the SPLC counted 932 active hate groups in the United States, including the Aryan Nations, New Black Panther Party, and Nation of Islam. The Family Research Council will be included in their list of active hate groups next year.