Many Christian organizations are fearful for their safety after CNN published a bogus "hate map" concocted by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
"Here are all the active hate groups where you live," CNN's headline declared.
The list included among others American Family Association, Family Research Council, Alliance Defending Freedom, Liberty Counsel and Pacific Justice Institute.
American Family Association blasted the CNN story, calling it a "sham news article that could easily incite violence and place AFA employees and supporters in harm's way."
Liberty Counsel President Mat Staver demanded an immediate retraction—calling CNN's report "false, defamatory and dangerous."
"Liberty Counsel is not a hate group," he said. "The false 'hate' label is very damaging to our reputation and is a safety risk to our staff. Liberty Counsel is a Christian ministry, and hates no one."
Conservatives and Christians have good reason to be worried.
In 2012, Floyd Lee Corkins opened fire inside Family Research Council headquarters in Washington, D.C. A security guard was shot and wounded.
The domestic terrorist told police he wanted to kill as many employees as possible to intimidate opponents of same-sex marriage. Corkins brought along Chick-fil-A sandwiches, which he intended to smear on the faces of dead staffers.
So what does this have to do with CNN's story?
Corkins told authorities that he picked his target using the Southern Poverty Law Center's so-called "hate map."
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins appeared on my nationally syndicated radio show Thursday to condemn CNN for using material from an organization that is "an attack dog of the Left."
"They are not a neutral arbiter that is calling balls and strikes. They are on the field—playing. They are pushing an agenda, and anyone who opposes them—they slap a label on them," Perkins told me.
"They (SPLC) are inciting violence, and it needs to stop," he added.
Liberty Counsel pointed out that had CNN done due diligence they would have discovered that the SPLC hate map has been widely discredited.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation removed the SPLC as a resource in 2014—during the Obama Administration.
And Liberty Counsel reports that in 2016 the Justice Department reprimanded SPLC's lawyers for repeating "hate" misinformation.
Shortly after I called out CNN on my nationally syndicated radio show, they issued an editor's note:
"The headline on this story has been changed to more closely align with the content of the piece, which clearly indicates that the data on hate groups is from the Southern Poverty Law Center. This story has also been updated to provide direct links to the full list from the SPLC as opposed to publishing the entire list here."
That's not good enough.
CNN must retract the entire story and publicly vow to never again use Southern Poverty Law Center's inflammatory propaganda.
The cold hard reality is that CNN is responsible for placing a target on the backs of well-respected conservative groups and Christian ministries.
We can only pray there's not another Floyd Corkins lurking in the shadows—and reading CNN's bogus report.
Todd Starnes is host of "Fox News & Commentary," heard on hundreds of radio stations. Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter, be sure to join his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter. His latest book is The Deplorables' Guide to Making America Great Again.
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