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An uncharitable exclusion

South Florida churches lose bid for inclusion in Amazon charitable donation program


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An uncharitable exclusion

A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that Amazon could exclude Coral Ridge Ministries from a program that allows a percentage of some sales to flow back to a charity of a customer’s choice. D. James Kennedy founded the Florida-based organization in 1974, and it continues to broadcast the late pastor’s syndicated television show, The Coral Ridge Hour (now called Truths that Transform).

In September 2019, an Alabama federal judge dismissed Coral Ridge’s 2017 complaint that the company defamed it and engaged in religious discrimination by blocking it from AmazonSmile based on the ministry’s designation as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)—primarily because the ministry opposed homosexual conduct.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the district court that there had been no defamation. The court said Coral Ridge hadn’t shown that Amazon had actual malice as Alabama state law requires. In a relatively brief, 15-page opinion, Circuit Judge Charles Wilson, a Clinton appointee, said forcing Amazon to donate to organizations it objects to would violate the company’s First Amendment rights.

Coral Ridge has not said whether it will ask the full appeals court to hear the case or appeal directly to the Supreme Court.

The Alabama-based SPLC has labeled more than one Christian ministry as a hate group. The SPLC began in the 1971 to combat racial discrimination and the Ku Klux Klan, but expanded to include the gay and transgender activist agenda. The organization has also pinned the hate group designation on pro-family advocates such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, Family Research Council, and Pacific Justice Institute.


Steve West

Steve is a legal correspondent for WORLD. He is a graduate of World Journalism Institute, Wake Forest University School of Law, and N.C. State University. He worked for 34 years as a federal prosecutor and is now an attorney in private practice. Steve resides with his wife in Raleigh, N.C.

@slntplanet

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mrbobmac

I find this note interesting: "In a relatively brief, 15-page opinion, Circuit Judge Charles Wilson, a Clinton appointee, said forcing Amazon to donate to organizations it objects to would violate the company’s First Amendment rights."

This is ironic to me because the courts are saying the exact *opposite* to cake bakers, photographers, etc., on which services they want to perform, even if they object to them.