With millions of Americans unemployed or forced to shutter their small businesses, charitable organizations are becoming even more vital. If you’re working fewer hours, out of work, or losing your income because your business was declared non-essential, you may be one of the many Americans who needs charitable assistance to get through this crisis. Through their AmazonSmile program, the tech giant allows customers to donate small amounts of money to charities as part of their order. Sounds great, right? You’re giving an extra few cents each time you order, costing you as an individual almost nothing, but because Amazon is the recipient of massive traffic, the charities end up receiving massive amounts of money.
But there’s a problem: Amazon doesn’t determine which charities can be included in their “Smile” program in-house. This task is outsourced to a third party; in this case, none-other than the Southern Poverty Law Center, among the most prolific of America’s political smear factories. The consequences of this particular partnership are massive, not just because of Amazon’s size, but because the organization they’ve entrusted to screen out allegedly problematic entities happens to be one of the worst offenders for partisan activism. The Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC, runs a “hate-list” which arbitrarily labels essential Christian and conservative charities as “hate-groups.” This same list is used by Amazon to filter out potential recipients of charitable donations. In other words, if you as a customer wanted your AmazonSmile donations to go to a traditional Christian charity that happened to be targeted by the SPLC as a hate-group, you couldn’t do it.
Whatever noble history the SPLC may have had in the now-decades-past period where it still possessed a sound moral compass, it has now become a propaganda machine for destructive partisan politics. The SPLC routinely labels normal, harmless individuals and organizations as hateful and tries desperately to deny them funding and shut them out of the conversation. They even went so far as to label Maajid Nawaz, a moderate Muslim activist, an “anti-Muslim extremist,” until Nawaz filed a defamation lawsuit. Christian charities such as the Family Research Council, founded by Dr. James Dobson, have been exempted from the Smile program after being included in the SPLC’s hate-list. By any reasonable definition, the SPLC isn’t a neutral arbiter.
Amazon’s affiliation with this biased political activist organization is denying Christian and conservative charities much-needed funds at a time of national crisis. In light of this, the Alliance Defending Freedom (among the foremost defenders of religious liberty) has put forward a resolution to be voted on at Amazon’s annual shareholders meeting on May 27th. If passed, the resolution will compel Amazon to create a report “evaluating the range of risks and costs associated with discriminating against different social, political, and religious viewpoints.” Amazon is a publicly traded company, which means their ultimate owners are the shareholders. The leadership is legally subject to the will of the true owners of the company.
If this resolution receives enough support to pass, it will help expose the SPLC for what it is and start a process that will hopefully end with Amazon removing the SPLC from its throne as supreme arbiter of charity-worthiness. Here are a few steps you can take to help ensure that this resolution passes:
- If you’re an Amazon shareholder, you will soon receive (or may have already received) a ballot that contains all of the resolutions set to be voted on on the 27th. The ADF is resolution is Item #12. Follow the instructions in the email or on the pamphlet to vote your shares in favor of the resolution.
- Independently of the resolution, as a shareholder you can go to https://shareholderequity.org/campaign/amazon/ and send an email to the Board of Directors urging them to stop relying on the biased SPLC’s hate-list for their Smile program.
- If you have an investment manager who buys and sells shares in Amazon on your behalf, you can contact them and either request that you vote your shares personally or direct them to vote your shares in favor of the resolution.
- If you are invested in a mutual fund which holds shares in Amazon, you can contact investor relations at the fund and let them know how you feel about the resolution and Amazon’s partnership with the SPLC.
- If you’re simply a customer with Amazon, you can go to https://nationalcenter.org/advocacy/petition/ and sign the petition calling for an end to Amazon’s discrimination against conservatives and Christians.
It’s imperative to push back on organizations like the SPLC that exercise such enormous influence over corporate life. Supporting the ADF’s resolution and campaign is an important step in taking back the board-room from radicals. Amazon is now a massive part of daily life for millions of Americans, and that influence carries with it a responsibility to be unbiased and just. Amazon should allow their customers to fund essential charities, regardless of whether they conform to the SPLC’s biased definition of what is hateful and what is not.