LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- The Christian Action Network, based in Forest, is speaking out against the Southern Poverty Law Center that has named them a "hate group."
The organization is listed along with four others in the area, but they are now fighting to get their names removed.
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The Christian Action Network describes their organization as pro-family, pro-American, and pro-traditional.
The Southern Poverty Law Center lists their organization as a hate group, describing it as anti-Muslim.
"For them to call us anti-Muslim, I think it's defamatory," said Martin Mawyer, the president of Christian Action Network. "They could have said we're anti-Islam; they could have said that, because I'm not going to say I'm pro-Islam."
Mawyer said they do not hate Muslims and being anti-Islam does not make them a hate group, but says it is an okay description for CAN.
He explains they oppose Islam ideology, not an individual.
"Opposing an individual I think does turn you into a hate group," he added.
Mawyer confirms he asked the Department of Education to remove a program called "Access Islam," which is an optional program available to schools that teaches students about the Islamic religion; the Associated Press reported in 2013 that a Muslim group accused CAN of defamation for "publishing a book that accuses the Muslim collective of holding terrorist training in its enclaves."
"The judge looked at the case and said you do not have the right to sue this organization over the contents of that book," Mawyer said.
Reports show a judge dismissed the lawsuit, finding the group lacked standing to sue.
The SPLC lists how they determine an organization is a hate group saying, "this list was compiled using hate group publications and websites, citizen and law enforcement reports, field sources, and news reports" and that hate group activities can include criminal acts, rallies, speeches, or publishing.
"If they find a publication that in their mind gives hateful views, well that is subjective opinion to them as to what a hateful view is," Mawyer said.
Mawyer said he he reached out to the SPLC to try to get their name removed two days ago, and did not hear back.
The SPLC also did not return a call for a request to comment on the story.