Liberty Counsel is incensed that the Associated Press noted in a recent article that its founder and chairman, Mat Staver, once threatened to sue a library for encouraging kids to read “Harry Potter” and that he recently falsely claimed that 100,000 people in Peru gathered to pray for Kim Davis. The AP also dared to note that Liberty Counsel has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
All three claims are true, but Staver insisted in a letter to the AP’s assistant general counsel on Monday that the article was “defamatory” because it delivered an “unmistakable message to a reasonable person” that “Mat Staver and Liberty Counsel are liars and haters.”
“At a minimum, AP should permanently remove the link and the cache,” Staver wrote.
The AP is, of course, correct in its report: Staver used a photo from an unrelated event in 2014 as supposed proof that there was recently a massive prayer rally in Peru for Davis; it is well documented that he threatened a Jacksonville library in 2000 for promoting “witchcraft” to kids through the Harry Potter series; and the SPLC does in fact list Liberty Counsel as a hate group.
While Staver claims that the SPLC only lists Liberty Counsel as a hate group due to its biblical beliefs, the SPLC makes clear that its listing of anti-LGBT hate groups is “based on their propagation of known falsehoods — claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling. Viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups.”
The AP included in its story a quote from Staver disputing Liberty Counsel’s hate group designation, but the designation was well-earned, as the right-wing legal group has a record of spreading misinformation about the LGBT community. Staver alone has:
- Claimed that Obama administration would impose “in-your-face forced homosexuality” on America.
- Defended a Malawi law criminalizing homosexuality as a stand against “immorality.”
- Called the gay rights movement “demonic” as it is leading America “off the cliff into the very pit of Hell.”
- Charged that including gays in the Boy Scouts would turn the organization into “a playground for pedophiles.”
- Insisted that “the most definitive, most recent research that’s come out” recommends ex-gay therapy.
- Predicted that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act “will put individuals at risk and ultimately result in significant damage and even death of some individuals.”
- Attacked the anti-bullying Day of Silence as “a radical sexualized agenda subsidized with tax dollars.”
- Said a lesson on LGBT History Month amounts to the “sexual assault on our children” and emphasizes “sex and murder.”
- Alleged that gay rights would bring about the end of civilization and cause America to “implode” and “unravel.”
- Repeatedly warned that the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage would trigger a revolution and civil war.
Nonetheless, Staver would like everybody to believe that the SPLC labeled Liberty Counsel as a hate group because it had a religious disagreement with same-sex marriage.