Attorney General Falsely Claims the ‘Hate Group’ Label Is Being Used to ‘Bully and Intimidate Groups That Fight for Religious Freedom’
Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the Alliance Defending Freedom Wednesday night that they are not hate group. The ADF has been designated as a anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a organization that actively tracks approximately 1000 hate groups nationwide.
“I wanted to come back here tonight partially because I wanted to say this: You are not a hate group,” Sessions told attendees (video below) at the ADF’s Summit on Religious Liberty, as Towleroad reports.
“When I spoke to ADF last year, I learned that the Southern Poverty Law Center had classified ADF as a ‘hate group.’ Many in the media simply parroted that as a fact,” Sessions charged. “They have used this designation as a weapon and they have wielded it against conservative organizations that refuse to accept their orthodoxy and choose instead to speak for their conscience and their beliefs. They use it to bully and intimidate groups that fight for religious freedom, these constitutional rights of the American people.”
Sessions raised eyebrows last week when he announced the creation of a secretive “religious liberty” task force at DOJ.
“We have gotten to the point,” Sessions said as he announced the new task force, “where one group can actively target religious groups by labeling them a ‘hate group’ on the basis of their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
The religious right and far right wing extremists for years have been outraged that the Southern Poverty Law Center has branded anti-gay groups that promulgate lies about LGBTQ people with the same label given to the KKK. And anti-gay hate groups like the Family Research Council, and the ADF have responded by falsifying the SPLC’s very clear definition of what hate groups are.
Sessions is responding to that outrage, apparently by targeting those who work to identify and monitor hate groups. And he’s made clear he will turn the concept of First Amendment freedom of religion on its head to do so.
Southern Poverty Law Center president Richard Cohen sent a letter to Sessions earlier this week explaining what a hate group is, and reminding him that the Dept. of Justice uses a similar definition. Sessions clearly ignored it as he addressed the ADF.
“In a manner analogous to how the Department of Justice defines hate crimes,” the SPLC president wrote, linking to the DOJ’s own website on hate crimes, “we identify hate groups as those that vilify others because of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability – prejudices that strike at the heart of our democratic values and fracture society along its most fragile fault lines.”
“Just as sincerely held religious beliefs would not be a defense to a hate crime prosecution, vilifying others in the name of religion should not immunize a group from being designated as a hate group, in our view,” Cohen added.
Watch Sessions address the anti-gay hate group’s Summit on Religious Liberty.
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Big GOP Donor Calls COVID-19 Vaccine a Plot by ‘The Jews’ to ‘Euthanize’ Americans in Wildly Antisemitic Email
A Utah-based technology company’s founder and chairman who is also a big GOP donor is falsely claiming the highly-effective COVID-19 vaccines are part of a plot by “the Jews” to “euthanize the American people,” while insisting to a local reporter, “Some of my closest friends are Jews.”
David Bateman, who founded Entrata, a property management technology company, sent the email title “GENOCIDE” to fellow tech company CEOs and to political leaders including the Governor of Utah. Some subsequently shared it with Fox 13. Bateman has admitted to sending the message, while claiming he “loves” Jewish people.
“I write this email knowing that many of you will think I’m crazy after reading it. I believe there is a sadistic effort underway to euthanize the American people. It’s obvious now. It’s undeniable, yet no one is doing anything. Everyone is discounting their own judgment, and dismissing their intuition,” Bateman wrote in his email, Fox 13 reports.
The missive gets wildly antisemitic and conspiratorial.
“I believe the Jews are behind this. For 300 years the Jews have been trying to infiltrate the Catholic Church and place a Jew covertly at the top. It happened in 2013 with Pope Francis,” he writes, offering zero evidence. “I believe the pandemic and systematic extermination of billions of people will lead to an effort to consolidate all the countries in the world under a single flag with totalitarian rule. I know, it sounds bonkers. No one is reporting on it, but the Hasidic Jews in the US instituted a law for their people that they are not to be vaccinated for any reason.”
Many people of other faiths, including Christians, have tried to claim religious exemptions to being vaccinated, which the courts have often denied. No leader of any major religion has suggested there are religious reasons to not get vaccinated.
“I pray that I’m wrong on this. Utah has got to stop the vaccination drive. Warn your employees. Warn your friends. Prepare. Stay safe.”
Claiming some of his “closest friends” are Jewish, Bateman confirmed to Fox 13’s Ben Winslow that he is the author of the email.
Entrata founder Dave Bateman confirmed to me he sent the email (which was sent to me by numerous sources). He defended sending it in text messages to me, but said it was his personal opinion: https://t.co/YxEqa0KBKG @fox13 #utpol #Utah
— Ben Winslow (@BenWinslow) January 4, 2022
“Yes. I sent it. I have nothing but love for the Jewish people. Some of my closest friends are Jews. My heart breaks for their 2500 years they’ve been mistreated by nearly every country on earth. But I do believe Scottish Rite Freemasons are behind the pandemic (overwhelmingly Jewish),” he wrote. “And I fear billions of people around the globe right now are being exterminated.”
The Fox 13 report calls Bateman “a prominent figure in Republican politics in Utah,” and “a big donor to the party.” Their report includes responses from several local Utah leaders denouncing Bateman’s antisemitic remarks, including a Rabbi who called the email “a flaming pile of garbage” that could lead to violence.
Listen: Trump Goes on ‘Jaw Dropping’ Antisemitic Rant — American Jews ‘No Longer Love Israel’ and ‘Run the NY Times’
In an interview with an Israeli reporter Donald Trump, the former U.S. president, lamented Jews in America “no longer love Israel,” claimed America’s evangelical Christians “love Israel more,” and declared “Jewish people … run The New York Times.”
CNN’s Jake Tapper commented that the Republican former president’s remarks were “jaw dropping.”
“It used to be that Israel had absolute power over Congress and today I think it’s the exact opposite,” Trump said. “I think Obama and Biden did that.”
“Yet in the election they still get a lot of votes from the Jewish people. Which tells you that … the Jewish people in the United States either don’t like Israel or don’t care about Israel.”
“I mean you look at The New York Times, The New York Times hates Israel. Hates them. And they’re Jewish people that run The New York Times,” he added.
“Earlier this year,” Daily Mail notes, “Trump said that US Jews ‘don’t love Israel enough’ because he only got 25% of the Jewish vote in the 2020 election.”
“You know what really surprised me?” Trump said in June in an interview with the ultra-Orthodox magazine Ami, Daily Mail reports. “‘I did the Heights, I did Jerusalem and I did Iran — the Iran deal was a disaster, right?’ he said referring to his decisions to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, move the US embassy there and pull the US out of the Iran nuclear deal.”
“And I also did many other things. Jewish people who live in the United States don’t love Israel enough. Does that make sense to you?”
— Yonit Levi (@LeviYonit) December 17, 2021
DeSantis Spokesperson Says LGBTQ Pride Lights on Jacksonville Bridge Will Be Back On – No Word on Others
A spokesperson for Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis says the LGBTQ Pride Month display on Jacksonville’s Acosta Bridge will be back on Wednesday night. They were ordered removed after just one night by the state’s Dept. of Transportation, after dozens of other displays went unquestioned.
DeSantis spokesperson Taryn Fenske told Florida Politics, “the lights will be on.”
Fenske said FDOT is “letting it go,” adding that other lighting displays “went up that were not on the approved list” previously, referring to already in place permits. However, the Pride display was the first to get blocked, a move that roiled locals.
The LGBTQ community remains targeted by DeSantis and his administration.
Permits for lighting other Florida bridges, including in Sarasota and St. Petersburg to celebrate Pride Month were denied, and there’s no indication they too will be allowed.
Ordering the Acosta Bridge LGBTQ celebration lights removed is “just the latest in a string of anti-LGBTQ actions” from DeSantis, Equality Florida Communications Manager Michael Womack tells NCRM.
Womack says the Florida Dept. of transportation “answers to the governor,” who he notes signed into law Florida’s first anti-LGBTQ bill in 24 years. He also says that in 2020 the permit to light the Acosta Bridge in LGBTQ rainbow colors for Pride Month was denied.
It is no coincidence that the Florida governor, a likely 2024 presidential hopeful, chose Jacksonville, a conservative Christian private school, and the first day of Pride Month to sign into law a bill banning transgender girls from playing in girls sports.
“Girls are gonna play girls’ sports,” DeSantis said June 1. “Boys are going to play boys’ sports.”
DeSantis chose June 2 to veto legislation that would have provided funds for counseling for survivors of the Pulse massacre and funding for LGBTQ homeless youth.
“Let’s be clear about what this is: Governor DeSantis has declared war on Florida’s LGBTQ community,” Pulse survivor Brandon Wolf, who now works for Equality Florida, told the Orlando Sentinel.
Tuesday the DOT ordered the Pride Light display removed, claiming there was no permit for the event. But the DOT never had a problem with countless other displays, including those recognizing Memorial Day, Autism acceptance and awareness, St. Patrick’s Day, Lupus, the first day of Spring, Christmas, child abuse awareness, and Easter – to name a few.
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