Amazon has barred prominent Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom from participating in its Amazon Smile charitable program, which allows nonprofits to recoup a small fraction of the money their supporters spend through Amazon.
ADF, which specializes in First Amendment law and has won cases at the Supreme Court, is barred from Amazon Smile on account of the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center, which labeled ADF a “hate group.”
“All nonprofits are eligible as long as they meet our participation agreement,” an Amazon spokesperson told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “As a part of that participation agreement, we also state that Amazon relies on the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Southern Poverty Law Center to determine which charities are eligible.”
The participation agreement forbids member groups from, among other things, promoting “hate” or “intolerance.”
ADF’s CEO, Michael Farris, sent a letter to Amazon on May 3, saying he was “surprised and disappointed” to find out his group was no longer able to participate in the Amazon program. Farris criticized Amazon for so greatly empowering the SPLC, which he described as a “discredited partisan organization.”
The SPLC is known for labeling pedestrian conservative organizations as “hate groups” and calls critics of political correctness “extremists.” The SPLC deleted four articles in March and April from its website after the articles were challenged as inaccurate, and the SPLC threatened with lawsuits.
“In order for us to remove ourselves from the decision-maker and send away, because we don’t want to be biased whatsoever, so we’re using the SPLC to establish the criteria for those organizations,” said the Amazon spokesperson, who declined to answer whether it’s a conflict of interest for the SPLC to both police Amazon Smile and participate in the program.
Unlike ADF, hardline Islamic groups are allowed to participate in Amazon Smile. That includes the Islamic Center of Jersey City, whose imam called Jews “apes and pigs” and requested Allah’s help in killing them “down to the very last one,” according to the Anti-Defamation League.
The Islamic Society of North America is able to take part in Amazon Smile, despite a 2009 federal court ruling the U.S. government has “ample evidence” of ties between the group and Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas.
The similarly named Islamic Circle of North America is also an Amazon Smile member. ICNA promotes the establishment of an Islamic caliphate and has ties to a radical Pakistani political group, Jamaat-e-Islami. The Anti-Defamation League has criticized ICNA for giving a platform to extremists.
Amazon’s spokesperson declined to comment to TheDCNF on the eligibility status of individual organizations but stressed the diversity of the more than 1 million participants in the program.
The spokesperson pointed to groups like the NRA Foundation, which liberals have tried to pressure Amazon into removing from the charity program. So far, the gun-rights nonprofit has stayed in the program. But whether it continues to do so ultimately remains up to the SPLC.
“We remove organizations that the SPLC deems as ineligible,” Amazon’s spokesperson confirmed to TheDCNF.
TheDCNF identified several branches of the Nation of Islam, which the SPLC recognizes as an openly anti-Semitic organization, participating in Amazon Smile.
The Nation of Islam’s New York headquarters, for example, is eligible for donations through Amazon Smile.
Amazon Smile users can also donate to Muhammad Mosque No. 24, an arm of the Nation of Islam located in Richmond, Virginia. The group advocates for black nationalism and is open about its affiliation with the Nation of Islam.
A Nation of Islam affiliate in Springfield, Massachusetts is also participating in the program. The group blames Jews in the media for “crucifying” prominent black people, including Michael Jackson and Bill Cosby.
Farris described the SPLC as “a discredited fundraising group that fills its ever-increasing coffers by attacking veterans, Catholics, Muslims who oppose terrorism, and even nuns,” in a statement to TheDCNF.
“SPLC is not a neutral watchdog organization. Instead, it raises money by slandering people and organizations who disagree with its views,” Farris said. “ADF is one of the nation’s most respected and successful Supreme Court advocates, working to preserve our fundamental freedoms of speech, religion, and conscience for people from all walks of life.”
“I can’t really speak to that. It’s the organization that was, kind of, when this program came about, in order for customers to — in order to lend away to customers to give and support the charities close to them, it’s — yeah, I don’t know; I can’t speak to that,” the Amazon spokesperson said when TheDCNF asked whether Amazon considers the SPLC to be unbiased.
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