Guidestar, the online database that lists financial information on 1.2 million charitable organizations, has reversed a decision made in early June to apply the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) “hate group” designation to a handful of groups.
Facing pressure from donors and conservative groups (including some which received the designation), Guidestar, itself a non-profit, announced the decision via a statement on its website by the CEO, Jacob Harold.
Harold cited both a desire to “serve as a bridge across the cultural chasms of our times” and “harassment of our employees” as important factors in the distinction. According to the statement, Guidestar will tell anyone who asks which groups the SPLC considers hate groups.
Throughout the SPLC’s 46-year history as a watchdog organization, the group has brought successful civil rights litigation against the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and white nationalists, among others.
A letter to Guidestar signed by 41 people, largely representing groups flagged on the site, read:
“The ‘hate group’ list is nothing more than a political weapon targeting people it deems to be its political enemies… The list is ad hoc, partisan, and agenda-driven.”
It’s not the first time SPLC’s reputation has been publicly impugned in the last year. Critics loudly took issue with the inclusion of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz on a list of anti-Muslim extremists last fall.