Americans For Truth About Homosexuality held a rally last week against the Southern Poverty Law Center with AFTAH president Peter LaBarbera, Liberty Counsel deputy Matt Barber and North Carolina marriage equality opponent Patrick Wooden for labeling groups like AFTAH “anti-gay hate groups.” Among the other “pro-family leaders” at the press conference included Rochelle Conner, a representative of Scott Lively’s Abiding Truth Ministries, who read a statement from Lively calling for “God himself to destroy” the SPLC:
My prayer as one who really does hate irrational prejudice is that the Lord by His sovereign power will remove this dangerous, hate-spreading organization from our nation and its leaders and its members cause them to repent of their wickedness. Finally, to prevent the Southern Poverty Law Center from using my prayer as part of its perpetual fundraising campaign, I want to make clear that I am asking God himself to destroy their organization and I am asking that it be by His miraculous hand and not by human beings just so as with Sodom and Gomorrah, they will know that God will get the glory, and not man.
Conner later claimed that the SPLC should now be called the “Southern Poverty Hate Center” as it has “now become a tool of the God-haters”:
The Southern Poverty Law Center has willfully, knowingly slandered, maligned, libeled Scott Lively, Abiding Truth Ministries, they have spread malicious lies in an attempt to undermine and destroy his credibility because as a leading authority on the homosexual agenda he exposes their villainy. The Southern Poverty Law Center has now become a tool of the God-haters, promoting hatred in the form of vicious lies against Christianity. The Southern Poverty Law Center has abandoned its mission of serving and protecting minorities and has evolved into the Southern Poverty Hate Center.
Peter LaBarbera read a statement from Brian Camenker of MassResistance, who portrayed the SPLC as Nazis for working “to dehumanize groups of people, twist the truth, and foment hatred”:
The Southern Poverty Law Center loves to use Nazi imagery to incite people against Bible-believing Jews and Christians. It’s extremely offensive but also very ironic. In the 1930s and the 1940s, the Nazis themselves used many of the same techniques that the SPLC use today to dehumanize groups of people, twist the truth, and foment hatred against those with traditional values through propaganda campaigns and also by working through governments, schools and police departments. I am surely here with you in spirit and so are thousands of others across America, all good people must fearlessly stand against this.
Another one of the “pro-family leaders” at AFTAH’s press conference included Timothy Johnson of the Fredrick Douglass Foundation, a right-wing group which targets African Americans. Sarah Posner writes in AlterNet about Johnson’s history of domestic violence, and he was convicted of aggravated assault in 1996. Johnson tried to explain away the charges with a supportive letter from his ex-wife, who claimed that he fabricated the letter:
According to court records, Johnson was arrested on Christmas Day 1995 in Cleveland, Ohio, and was later indicted by a grand jury for two felony counts, one of felonious assault and the other of kidnapping. According to the arrest report, when the police arrived, they found Felix-Johnson bleeding from the face. Timothy Johnson told the officers, according to their report, “I admit it. I hit her, that’s the only way I can get her attention.” Felix-Johnson told the officers he restrained her on the couch, holding down her neck. One officer reports Ofelia Felix-Johnson saying that Johnson also punched her breasts, saying that she had no heart, and hit her over the back and buttocks with a plastic shoe rack, breaking the rack. The police report in the court file states that Johnson broke his wife’s nose and toes, causing her to be hospitalized.
AlterNet obtained documentation of a second incident when police were called to intervene in a domestic conflict at the home of Timothy Johnson and Ofelia Felix-Johnson. Land records show the couple purchased a house in Perrysburg, Ohio, in March 1997. In 1998, Johnson was arrested by the Perrysburg Police, again on domestic violence charges. According to the police report, Johnson provided a “very similar” account of the incident to that his wife Ofelia and 14-year-old son gave police. Both wife and son reported that Johnson had Ofelia Felix-Johnson in a wrist lock, and when the son attempted to stop Johnson from hurting his mother, Johnson put the son in a head lock such that he was “unable to breathe and was choking up food,” according to the police report. After the son broke free, the police report continues, Johnson “put his right hand around [the boy’s] throat and pushed [him] against the wall with his back to the wall and choked [the boy] for about 5 seconds.”