BLOGInterning for a So-Called “Hate Group”: What I Actually Saw Behind-the-Scenes at ADF

By Leah Rodriguez Posted on: | May 20, 2019

“Isn’t ADF a hate group?”

I had just announced on Instagram that I would be interning with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) in the spring semester when a high-school peer asked that question.

I had been so excited to share the news, and I couldn’t think of a better place to work where I could combine my faith and love for the First Amendment. But I quickly discovered that not everyone was as thrilled.

Another peer linked to what I’m sure he considered a credible, reliable, and accurate source.

Yep, you guessed it.

He linked to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) website, where it proclaimed that ADF is a “hate group” along with several other Christian and conservative organizations that don’t align with the SPLC’s far-left agenda. As has now been made abundantly clear, this is all a part of the SPLC’s plan. It lumps mainstream conservatives in with legitimate hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan to attack the free speech of peaceful, decent Americans who hold reasonable views.

Yet at the time, I was startled. Did I really just accept an internship with a hate group? What will my friends and family think of me?

I didn’t yet know the truth about the SPLC, which states its main goal is to “completely destroy” groups like ADF. And most importantly, I didn’t yet know the truth about ADF. That day, I promised myself I would discover the answers for myself. And I assure you, it didn’t take long.

Here’s what the SPLC won’t tell you about ADF.


1. Alliance Defending Freedom is anything but hateful.

I’ve met people who claim to be Christians who are unloving, who lack grace and compassion, and who who care solely about winning arguments rather than helping people in society flourish. It’s sad that a few people who live and act inconsistent with Christian teachings can ruin the name for everyone in the public square. But let me assure you, those few are not the team at ADF. I’ve witnessed it with my own eyes.


2. The character, integrity, and dedication of every team member is unmatched.

ADF doesn’t shy away from its traditional and biblical views. And it shouldn’t. ADF team members interact every day with opposing groups and have the opportunity to act with bitterness, rage, and disdain. But they don’t. ADF recognizes that tolerance is a two-way street and that there’s room in the marketplace of ideas for everyone to speak. Never once during my internship did I experience anything less than the utmost integrity from ADF in advocating against issues they whole-heartedly oppose.


3. The ADF team personally cares and commits to the clients they work with.

ADF clients aren’t just names on a case brief. They are real people loved by the team who walks with them through what can be one of the most difficult times in their lives. I witnessed the excitement and energy in the office the day the second case against Jack Phillips was finally dismissed. His victory became each team member’s victory. A win for Jack truly was a win for everyone.


Most noteworthy, though, was the reaction I witnessed in the office the day the former SPLC president Richard Cohen resigned, shortly after the SPLC fired their co-founder Morris Dees. These departures came after a string of articles uncovered the atmosphere of racial discrimination and sexual harassment at the SPLC headquarters.

ADF knew of the SPLC’s true character all along, yet when the SPLC was receiving negative media attention and dismissing its leadership, the team met the news with grace and truth. I didn’t observe any hate towards the organization that labeled ADF a “hate group.”

The SPLC once did admirable work fighting racial discrimination. But it has since devolved into a far-left activist group that raises a lot of money off its tactics to expand the definition of “hate” to include those who disagree with its political agenda. It’s no secret now that the SPLC is morally bankrupt, aggressively anti-Christian, and internally corrupt. Even its own employees admitted to its hypocrisy.

As for ADF, it is one of the nation’s most respected Supreme Court advocates, winning nine cases at the High Court since 2011. ADF works to preserve fundamental freedoms of speech, religion, and conscience for all people. Does that sound like a “hate group” to you?

I didn’t respond to the comments on Instagram that day. Quite frankly, I didn’t have an answer. But today, I know I do.

Take it from an intern: ADF is not a hate group.

Leah Rodriguez

Public Relations Intern

Leah Rodriguez attends Liberty University, where she is earning a BS in Law and Policy and minoring in both Criminal Justice and Government. She currently lives in D.C. and serves as Public Relations Intern for ADF.

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