After members of the U.S. House of Representatives elected Mike Johnson (R-La.) as the next speaker of the House, many corporate media outlets cited an Alabama-based far-left activist organization to accuse Johnson of previously working for a “hate group.”

Johnson, who replaced U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as speaker on Wednesday, has been in Congress since 2017. Before that, he worked as an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative Christian legal organization. 

Montgomery’s Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which purports to categorize hate and extremist groups on its “hate map,” deemed the ADF a “hate group” on its website, citing the organization’s advocacy in favor of traditional marriage and against abortion and allowing biological men to compete in women’s sports.

The SPLC has long been accused of tarnishing conservative and libertarian organizations by falsely labeling them racist.

Nevertheless, it has a history of working with federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI

Earlier this month, U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and James Lankford (R-Okla.), in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, condemned the FBI for still using the SPLC to obtain data about hate and extremist groups in the United States.

Corporate news sites such as ABC, Newsweek and the Huffington Post cited the SPLC hate group designation in reports on Wednesday, some labeling Johnson a “Christian nationalist.” The outlets also cited Johnson’s voting record against legislation to “codify same-sex marriage.”

The reports also pointed to Johnson’s comments and state legislative efforts over two decades ago about gay marriage. 

In recent years, Johnson introduced the Stop the Sexualization of Children Act, designed to keep federal funds from going toward “any sexually-oriented program, event, or literature for children under the age of 10.”

Johnson defined “sexually oriented” as “any depiction, description, or simulation of sexual activity, any lewd or lascivious depiction or description of human genitals, or any topic involving sexual orientation, gender identity, gender dysphoria, or related subjects.”

The Act was never brought to the House floor. 

1819 News contacted the ADF for a comment about the SPLC’s claims.

“Alliance Defending Freedom is one of the nation’s most respected and successful U.S.,” said ADF Senior Vice President of Corporate Engagement and Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco.Supreme Court advocates working to preserve the fundamental freedoms of speech and religion for all Americans. We’ve won 15 cases at the Supreme Court since 2011, including a victory in 2023.”

“ADF believes that all people are made in the image of God and that everyone is worthy of dignity and respect,” he continued. “The Southern Poverty Law Center’s ‘hate map’ targets groups with mainstream conservative and religious viewpoints that they disagree with. The SPLC is a thoroughly discredited, blatantly partisan activist outfit known for sexism, racism, and condoning domestic terrorism. Their end game is tyranny, not tolerance. ADF will continue to work every day to build a society where life is cherished and protected, and everyone can freely share their ideas, exercise their faith, and live together peacefully despite different beliefs, opinions, and backgrounds.”

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