Amazon shareholders rejected a proposal to investigate the company’s use of the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a gatekeeper for the company’s AmazonSmile charitable giving program.
Amazon donates 0.5% of eligible purchases to charitable groups selected by customers. But it excludes some groups from participating. Christian and conservative groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom, D. James Kennedy Ministries, the Ruth Institute and Family Research Council may not receive donations – because the SPLC has labeled them “hate groups.”
Justin Danhof, Director of the Free Enterprise Project (FEP) at the National Center for Public Policy Research, submitted the proposal to change this at Amazon’s recent shareholder meeting, requesting a report on viewpoint discrimination “against different social, political and religious viewpoints.”
The company’s board of directors recommended that shareholders vote against the proposal, which they did. According to the FEP, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos refused to address questions “as to why the company engages in such blatant viewpoint discrimination.”
In a statement which he read at the meeting introducing the rejected proposal, Danhoff said:
The SPLC is a bigoted, racist, and sexist organization whose leadership abused its staff for decades. Yet Amazon allows the SPLC to pick and choose which charities are eligible for the Smile program. Why? The extreme leftists at the SPLC use this power to exclude groups that it disagrees with ideologically, while it, in turn, reaps tremendous windfall from the Smile program.
In his impassioned presentation, Danhof said the SPLC’s infamous “hate map” is “little more than a public listing” of the group’s “political enemies,” adding:
How else can one explain SPLC categorizing groups such as Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) with the Ku Klux Klan? ADF is the nation’s preeminent legal advocate for religious liberty and has scored 10 victories at the United States Supreme Court since 2011. Everyone knows the Klan is a hate group. What the SPLC is trying to do is convince naïve Americans that conservative and religious organizations are morally equivalent to the KKK.
In addition to AmazonSmile’s reliance on the SPLC, the shareholder proposal pointed to Amazon’s removal of books from its website, based on customer objections, as another example of the company’s viewpoint discrimination. This book banning occurred despite the company’s policy that “we provide our customers with access to a variety of viewpoints, including books that some customers may find objectionable.”
As we reported in 2019, Amazon stopped offering books by a number of Christian authors offering help for those with unwanted homosexual identity struggles, thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Focus on the Family’s Glenn T. Stanton noted the hypocrisy of removing these books when Amazon sells objectionable books by authors such as Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels and Benito Mussolini.
Likewise, Amazon carries books by Communist dictators and writers such as Mao Tse-Tung, Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, and Karl Marx, whose ideologies and actions are responsible for untold suffering and more than 100 million deaths. You can get free shipping for these books with Amazon Prime, but you’ll have to look elsewhere for resources to help live in line with biblical teaching if you struggle with same-sex attractions.
Jeremy Tedesco is senior counsel and vice president at ADF where he has litigated cases protecting religious liberty, free speech, and the sanctity of human life. In an article at The Hill about Amazon’s reliance on the SPLC, he notes that Amazon claims to value diversity and inclusion, while “it appears indifferent to SPLC’s internal scandals involving allegations of racial and sexual harassment — the very things for which it claims to be the moral arbiter for others.”
AmazonSmile reported last year that customers donated more than $155 million to local and national charities. Tedesco writes that the SPLC has benefited from AmazonSmile’s charitable giving, ranking “in the top 35 out of more than 1 million participants, while banishing its ideological foes from the program.” In this “stunning conflict of interest,” the SPLC is “both a recipient and a gatekeeper of access to the program’s funds.”
At the shareholder’s meeting, Danhof explained that the FBI stopped its reliance on the SPLC 6 years ago, while “even the far-left leadership of Twitter dumped the SPLC from its ‘Trust and Safety Council’ after many of the group’s scandals were exposed.”
Likewise, it’s past time for Amazon to sever its relationship with the SPLC.
Related articles and more information:
The Free Enterprise Project’s proposal, along with the board’s recommendation, can be found on pages 41-43 of the “Notice of 2020 Annual Meeting of Shareholders & Proxy Statement.”
Read or listen to Danhof’s statement at the shareholder’s meeting.
Find out more about the Alliance Defending Freedom.
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