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Focus on the Family Blamed for Club Q Shooting Despite Jim Daly Condemnation, Suspect's Non-Binary Identity

Tyler O'Neil-Commentary : Nov 29, 2022  The Daily Signal

These attacks should come as no surprise to those familiar with this leftist group's political tactics. The SPLC has long branded mainstream conservative and Christian organizations as "hate groups," placing them on a list with the likes of the Ku Klux Klan.

airlift[] Earlier this month, a gunman opened fire at Club Q, a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, killing five and injuring 25 others. Despite the suspect's identifying as "nonbinary" and going by "Mx. Anderson Lee Aldrich" in court documents, many on the Left blamed conservatives and Christians for the attack, and vandals targeted one prominent conservative Christian group in the city. (Screengrab image)

"Their blood is on your hands," vandals spray-painted at the Colorado Springs headquarters of Focus on the Family. The vandals added, "Five lives taken."

Vandals spray-painted the Focus on the Family building in the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning. Before the vandalism, numerous news outlets and left-leaning personalities had cited Focus on the Family's conservative Christian stances on homosexual activity while reporting on the shooting. Some called the city "an epicenter of organized homophobia." Among these, the Southern Poverty Law Center, a leftist organization notorious for demonizing conservative Christians who oppose the LGBT agenda, named Focus in an article tying "anti-LGBTQ hate" to the shooting.

Vandals targeted Focus on the Family two days after the Southern Poverty Law Center mentioned Focus in an article tying the Club Q shooting to "anti-LGBTQ hate."

Focus on the Family President Jim Daly condemned the shooting on the day it occurred. He said the "horrific" event "exposes the evil and wickedness inside the human heart. We must condemn in the strongest terms possible the taking of innocent life."

After the vandalism, Daly said the shooting's aftermath should be "a time of prayer, grieving and healing, not vandalism and the spreading of hate."

"The families of the five individuals killed in Saturday night's senseless attack are in our prayers," Daly added in a public statement. "We urge everyone to pray for peace and we also pray for the individual or group responsible for this mischievous and unwarranted defacing of our ministry's property."

Many news outlets cited Daly's condemnation of the shooting, but the Southern Poverty Law Center notably did not. Instead, the SPLC illustrated how some on the Left smear political opponents, even when they have nothing to do with the crime at issue.

The SPLC article, entitled "Colorado Springs: Far-Right Influencers Made LGBTQ People Into Targets" and written by Jason Wilson, excludes any reference to Focus on the Family's condemnation of the shooting, but does mention the organization itself as an example of "Anti-LGBTQ Hate in Colorado."

Wilson's article suggests that conservative and Christian rhetoric inspired the shooting. Its opening sentence describes the shooting as coming "after years of intensifying anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, acts of violence and intimidation, and discriminatory legislation from far-right individuals and groups, including powerful Republican politicians." (Screenshot of Southern Poverty Law Center article tying Club Q shooting to "far-right influencers" and "anti-LGBTQ hate.")

After attacks on conservative commentators Matt Walsh, Ben Shapiro, and Candace Owens; Libs of TikTok owner Chaya Raichik; Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis; and state laws protecting children from controversial transgender medical interventions, Wilson turns to address "Anti-LGBTQ Hate in Colorado." He claims that "far-right figures ... actively spread smears, conspiracy theories, and falsehoods about LGBTQ people in the months leading up to Saturday's mass shooting."

Wilson singles out Colorado Springs and Focus on the Family:

Colorado Springs, where the shooting took place, has itself long been a hub for the Christian Right, which for decades has pumped out anti-LGBTQ propaganda in the name of a narrow and exclusionary definition of family.

In the 1990s, Colorado Springs' Focus on the Family led the fundamentalist charge in support of Amendment 2, a Colorado ballot measure that banned municipalities from including LGBTQ people in their anti-discrimination policies. Though the initiative passed in 1992, in 1995 the Supreme Court found that it violated the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.

Wilson also suggests that some "evangelical churches" should lose their nonprofit status for "electioneering" in support of "fundamentalist candidates in school board elections." He notes that the SPLC's "hate map" lists four "anti-LGBTQ hate groups," including two headquartered in Colorado Springs: the Family Research Institute and the Pray in Jesus Name Project.

Wilson does not mention that Gordon Klingenschmitt, who runs the Pray in Jesus Name Project, condemned the shooting.

"Regardless of motive, I condemn the demonic violence ruling inside the heart of the shooter in the Colorado Springs nightclub," Klingenschmitt wrote on Facebook on Nov. 20. The Family Research Institute—which reported only $50,000 in revenue in 2021—appears not to have addressed the shooting.

Wilson rounds out the article by quoting drag queens who claim there is a "new atmosphere of confrontation and hostility at child-friendly performances around the state."

"Now five are dead, at least 25 are injured, and an unknown number are traumatized for life by an act of violence primed by conspiracy thinking and hateful propaganda," Wilson concludes.

Wilson's article doesn't mark the first time the Southern Poverty Law Center has suggested that "anti-LGBT hate" and conservative Christians may be responsible for a shooting at a gay nightclub. The SPLC also pointed the finger at conservative "hate groups"—and then-President Donald Trump—for the 2016 shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, even though the shooter pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, the terrorist attack to demonize conservative Christians.

The SPLC did not respond to The Daily Signal's request for comment on the Focus on the Family vandalism, and the center doesn't appear to have condemned it publicly.

These attacks should come as no surprise to those familiar with this leftist group's political tactics. The SPLC has long branded mainstream conservative and Christian organizations as "hate groups," placing them on a list with the likes of the Ku Klux Klan.

My book "Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center" traces how the SPLC—originally a public-interest legal nonprofit representing poor people in the South—became a juggernaut of political fundraising, in part by suing white supremacist organizations into bankruptcy and then using that work to exaggerate the threat of "hate groups" and to scare donors into ponying up cash.

A deranged would-be terrorist used the SPLC's "hate map" to target the conservative Christian group Family Research Council in 2012, intending to shoot everyone in the building and smear a Chick-fil-A sandwich in the face of each of his victims. A security guard in the lobby prevented the attack, and although the SPLC condemned the assault, it has kept the Family Research Council on its "hate map" ever since.

Contrary to SPLC insinuations, groups like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council don't hate LGBT people or wish them dead. They merely follow the Bible's teaching on homosexual activity and gender, along with Jesus' instructions to preach the Gospel and build up the Church.

Last year, SPLC Chief of Staff Lecia Brooks insisted that "the Southern Poverty Law Center is not anti-Christian at all." If so, the least it could do is condemn the vandalism directed at Focus on the Family. Subscribe for free to Breaking Christian News here

Tyler O'Neil is managing editor of The Daily Signal and the author of "Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center."

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