Amazon Bans Pro-Life Group From Its Approved List of Charities in AmazonSmile

Opinion   |   Matt Lamb   |   May 8, 2018   |   12:05PM   |   Washington, DC

Amazon has recently yanked Alliance Defending Freedom from its approved list of charities that are allowed to participate in the AmazonSmile program. As a private corporation, Amazon should be allowed to decide who is allowed to use its services and who does not — which, ironically, is one of the positions ADF has taken that has gotten it booted from the program.

Amazon uses the Southern Poverty Law Center to help it vet charities, even though the Department of Defenseand the FBI have stopped relying on the SPLC. For the record, Students for Life often ends up on SPLC’s weekly Anti-LGBT Roundup of Events because we speak on Tony Perkins’ radio show. Perkins and the Family Research Council, you may remember, were targeted by a shooter who was a fan of the SPLC.

One reason the SPLC lists ADF as a hate group is because, ADF “works to develop “religious liberty” legislation and case law that will allow the denial of goods and services to LGBT people on the basis of religion.” But wait, isn’t that similar to what Amazon is doing? Denying the donation service of AmazonSmile to a group based on a philosophical disagreement with the group?

And in fact, what is the philosophy and mission of Alliance Defending Freedom? At its core, it’s the protection of religious liberty and free-speech. My experience with ADF has been one of an organization that fights to protect the rights of students and organizations.

When I worked for Turning Point USA, it was Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys that frequently provided us advice on how to challenge unconstitutional free-speech zones on campus and push back against discrimination. I know it’s fashionable these days to say that promoting free-markets and limited government are hateful, but proof by assertion isn’t strong proof.

Now, working on free-speech and legal issues for Students for Life of America, it’s the same attorneys helping us push back against unconstitutional trigger warning requirementsdiscriminatory treatment of Students for Life groups, or professors ordering students to destroy pro-life chalking. Far from legalizing discrimination, Alliance Defending Freedom has been at the forefront at pushing back against universities who seek to discriminate against pro-life and conservative groups.

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Along the way, I’ve heard very little from liberal groups, such as the ACLU or the National Lawyers Guild about this discrimination, but very much from great free-speech groups such as Alliance Defending Freedom. In fact, the ACLU, which is supposed to be about protecting the civil liberties of citizens, often finds itself on the opposite side of ADF in court. For example, the ACLU bizarrely thinks it’s protecting civil liberties when it advocates for the government to seize assets from Christian bakers and florists.

The ADF I’d like Amazon to know about is the one that immediately was available to help one day in late October when Miami University-Hamilton sought to impose trigger warnings on our display–and ours only, because some students might be offended. The ADF I’d like Amazon to know is the one that helped Norvilia Etienne and the Queens College Students for Life group after the university sought to deny them club status and deny them school funding. It’s the ADF that helped us teach Fresno State and Professor Greg Thatcher that, ‘No, you can’t order your students to destroy pro-life chalkings, that’s not part of the First Amendment.’

ADF has frequently presented at our conferences and has always been available for legal advice. Conservative and pro-life students know they have an ally in ADF, and ADF has been instrumental in pushing back against the dangerous opposition to free-speech and conservative and pro-life views on many college campuses. And of course these benefits flow to all students, as Students for Justice in Palestine, LGBT groups, and all other groups also find free-speech zones eliminated on campus and campus organization processes easier to navigate.

In ending ADF’s association with the AmazonSmile program, Amazon is severing ties with an organization that promotes the liberty and equal protection of rights and fights against discrimination on campuses and in the public sphere. That is Amazon’s right to do so, just as it is the right of any business to make hypocritical decisions.

LifeNews Note: Matt Lamb is Jr. Vice President of Communications with Students for Life of America