Mr. George Kayes
2320 Langhorne Rd.
Lynchburg, VA 24501
August 17, 2017
Dear Mr. Kayes:
This letter is in response to your news organization’s WSET.com web article dated August 16, 2017, titled “Report: 917 hate groups in U.S., 42 in Virginia, 5 in our area.”
This article is not only contemptible to our organization and our 250,000 members, but possibly libelous to Christian Action Network.
Though the article purports that Christian Action Network (CAN) is among five “hate groups” that “are located in local communities,” your article never gives evidence as to why CAN is listed as a hate group, other than to cite it being identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
SPLC, itself, is currently being sued for falsely listing organizations as hate groups.
Your web article displayed a map taken directly from the SPLC website as the only “proof” that CAN is a so-called hate group.
The original map from the SPLC website claims CAN is a hate group because it is “anti-Muslim.” The map provides absolutely no other additional information for SPLC’s claim that CAN is a hate group.
CAN has never engaged “anti-Muslim” activity and believes Muslims should be loved and afforded respect and provided the same constitutional liberties and rights as all Americans.
We have never attacked, spoken poorly of, criticized or taken any negative action against an individual because he or she is a Muslim.
I assure you that WSET has no proof that CAN is anti-Muslim.
This is an unfounded claim based on conjecture and animosity toward CAN by SPLC and is repeated as a potentially libelous statement against our organization through your website.
Your reporter said she called our office to obtain an interview before writing the article. Our office phone records verify that we got a call from WSET at 11:54 a.m. Unfortunately, our staff was out to lunch.
Your reporter also claims that someone from our office “hung up” on her and that she has (in her possession) an audio recording of the incident.
The article states: “The person who answered the phone for Christian Action Network hung up.”
There are several problems with this.
First, as I mentioned, no one was in the office at the time of the call. So I do not know who could have answered the phone, unless it was our answering machine.
Second, how does your reporter know that someone “hung up” on her, rather than the line simply got disconnected? Why use such inflammatory and accusatory language when it would have been impossible for your reporter to know for sure?
Third, there is no record that your reporter made any additional attempts to reach our office (before the article was printed online) after getting disconnected if, indeed, that was the case.
Finally, I think it is highly unprofessional for your reporter to initiate an audio recording of our receptionist staff without prior notification.
Why would WSET ever need to record a conversation between your reporter and our receptionist, whose only job would be to transfer the call?
I have forwarded this matter to our attorneys to review the above-mentioned article for legal action. Hopefully, we can resolve this without taking such measures.