Southern Poverty Law Center
It is headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama. Attorneys Morris Dees and Joseph J. Levin Jr. founded the SPLC in 1971 while arguing a desegregation case involving the YMCA. After the case ended, future ACLU president Julian Bond was hired as the SPLC's president.
The SPLC originally focused on racist groups, most notably the KKK. Their Klanwatch program has since been expanded into Hatewatch, which keeps track of all forms of American hate groups. Their website is a fantastically useful resource collection.
 The SPLC and Christian hate groups
The SPLC releases an annual list of what they consider to be currently active hate groups. They have recently, during the last few years, added a few Christian fundamentalist and evangelical ministries to the list, which espouse homophobia, anti-Catholicism, and/or hatred against Muslims. Examples are the Family Research Council, Chick Publications, Traditional Values Coalition, Power of Prophecy, Parents Action League, and the American Family Association.
Anyone who ever got involved in born again Christianity has known about these groups for years; although some, like Jack Chick, are bona-fide cranks, many have been around for decades and are hardly "fringe" within American evangelicalism. Two questions come to mind:
- What took the SPLC so long to add them to their list?
- Why just these few token groups, and why are so many other obvious ones missing? One searches in vain for any of Pat Robertson's groups, Liberty University and anything else associated with the Falwells, the Scottsdale, AZ Spiritual Freedom Church, Bob Jones University, Sword of the Lord, or any of the big megachurches, but they are nowhere to be found. Give the SPLC credit for at least adding a few such groups, but it's so much easier to just top-load the list with "groups" that are just some 18 year old skinhead with a post office box and web page, isn't it?
The progressive Mother Jones magazine, on the other hand, has criticized them for casting their net too wide and including activists motivated primarily by civil liberties or libertarian issues, whose views have been construed by others to support racist ideologies (for example, state's rights advocates whose statements might fall in line with confederate sympathizers). Some more notable selections include the Ludwig von Mises Institute, dedicated to worshipping the corpses of Murray Rothbard and other Austrian Economics superstars, as well as factions of the Tea Party that insist they do in fact need that many guns.