OKLAHOMA CITY – Since 2000, the number of hate groups across America has been on the rise.
Experts speculate the movement is fueled by the ailing economy and an influx of immigrants.
There are 20 hate groups operating in Oklahoma right now, according to SPLC, including a local church that made the list.
Oklahoma hate groups include branches of the KKK, racist skinheads, Neo-Nazis, black separatists and one anti-gay group.
According to senior fellow, Mark Potok, the Southern Poverty Law Center tracks hate groups across the country.
“We have a whole staff of people who are constantly monitoring the websites; the underground publications even the short-wave radio broadcast and videos that people on the fringes of our society make, political people.” said Potok.
Reverend Tom Vineyard’s church, Windsor Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, made the hate list, number 20.
Pastor Vineyard is a missionary, the son of a pastor and a political activist.
The Southern Poverty Law Center confirms, they put Vineyard’s church on the hate map after he made these public statements before the Oklahoma City city council in 2011.
Vineyard made a number of outrageous statements before the city council including:
- “Homosexuals account for half of the murders in large cities.”
- “50 to 60 percent of homosexuals are infected with intestinal parasites.”
- “Homosexuals account for a disproportionate number of hepatitis cases in North America, 70 to 80 percent in San Francisco.”
- “Homosexuals commit more than 33 percent of all the reported child molestations in the US. Many homosexuals openly admit they are pedophiles because they cannot naturally reproduce. They resort to recruiting children.”
Vineyard wasn’t the only one to speak before the city council that day.
Several other pastor and community leaders spoke out against a policy change that would protect city employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation.
However, Windsor Hills Baptist Church is the only Oklahoma church which made the map of hate.
The Southern Poverty Law Center does not label all anti-gay groups as hate groups.
But pastor Vineyard, the organization said, met the threshold with those provably false statements.
“Tom Vineyard, for instance, made the claim that 33 percent of child molesters in this country are gay. That is a flat out falsehood.” said Potok. “And if the man knew how to do any research, or perhaps even read a bit. He would know that that is a lie. Let me say that again. That is a lie. It is untrue and it has the effect of demonizing, in one of the most remarkable ways you can do that in this society, an entire group of human beings.”
Pastor Vineyard was not surprised to learn that his church was listed on SPLC’s list of hate groups. “Because I’m a pastor I have to take a stand for what is morally right.” said Vineyard.
Vineyard stands behind his public statements.
He does not believe gays and lesbians need additional protection from discrimination.
He does not believe people are born gay.
“I preach God loves everyone. Jesus died for everyone. He died for the homosexuals just like he died for me. In God’s eyes we are all sinners. We all deserve to die and go to hell but Jesus died for every single one of us.” said Vineyard.
Vineyard has a surprising supporter, at least in some respects.
He is a staunch supporter of gay rights and First Amendment rights.
“He expressed his opinion and I have no problem with that. In fact, participating in the democratic process should be encouraged. I certainly respect his right and would defend his right to speak his mind and participate in the process.” said Shadid.
In fact, Shadid believes Windsor Hills Baptist Church should be removed from the SPLC hate map.
He believes Vineyard’s opinion actually bolstered the case for protection.
“I would have to see something beyond coming to city council and participating in the democratic process and giving opinions that are contrary to my own to define someone as a hate group.” said Shadid.
Two years after those public statements, Windsor Hills Baptist is still on the list.
Pastor Tom Vineyard plans on staying politically active.