ECFA to GuideStar: A mistake to listen to SPLC

Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Chris Woodward (

GuideStar logoThe Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability has admonished GuideStar for labeling non-profits as "hate groups."

ECFA president Dan Busby wrote a letter to the president of GuideStar USA and its board chair, saying the organization's use of "hate group" labels on certain non-profit organizations was out of character for GuideStar. Three of the groups that received such labels are ECFA-accredited organizations.

"Many ECFA-accredited organizations and givers regularly use GuideStar as a resource for obtaining objective, fact-based information about specific exempt organizations and even the non-profit sector as a whole," says Busby. "GuideStar has been a credible resource for them over the years, precisely because of its neutral and objective approach to providing information."

The "hate" labels were applied to specific non-profits at the recommendation of the Southern Poverty Law Center – which columnist Robert Knight says has a "long history of abusing non-profits and individuals with whom they disagree."

ECFA logo"Basically, I made two observations in the letter," Busby continues. "First, I observed that the practice by GuideStar by labeling any 501(c)3 organization as a hate group undermines their credibility among non-profit leaders as a neutral, objective source of information about the non-profit sector."

As a result, Busby warns GuideStar's actions will hurt its credibility.

"The second observation I made was that faith-based organizations that espouse beliefs held for millennia and based in the Bible do not hold their views as a result of hate; rather they hold these positions because they believe that God himself has decreed the beliefs in his Word," Busby adds.

"Even in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Obergefell v. Hodges, where the Supreme Court recognized a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, the Court stated that many who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reached that conclusion based on decent and honorable, religious and philosophical premises and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here, disparaged by the Supreme Court."

Busby goes on to note in the letter that it is appropriate to respect the beliefs of faith-based groups who believe that God himself has set standards for people's lives and has given them an opportunity to be with him forever – and such beliefs are not new, uncommon or strange.

"The key point, I think, was that these beliefs were shared out of love for others and not out of hate," he adds.

ECFA isn't alone in its apprehension; more than 40 non-profits, most falsely labeled by GuideStar, sent a separate letter to the organization late last month. One mislabeled nonprofit has even filed a federal lawsuit against GuideStar over the "false and defamatory 'hate group' label."

GuideStar then removed the label from the pages of the nonprofits on its site, yet released a statement saying the organization will continue to provide the "hate group" information upon request and is considering other methods of disseminating that information.

ECFA plans to monitor the situation and alert members of new developments.

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