Evangelical group says it's getting 'death threats' after leader's lynching bill remarks

Liberty Counsel says its members' lives are in danger after news reports about its founder's comments on the inclusion of LGBTQ people in an anti-lynching bill.
By Brooke Sopelsa

A month after the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill that would explicitly make lynching a federal crime, the leader of an evangelical nonprofit criticized the bill’s inclusion of LGBTQ people.

"The old saying is once that camel gets the nose in the tent, you can't stop them from coming the rest of the way in," Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver said in an interview with conservative Christian news outlet OneNewsNow. “This is a way to slip it in under a so-called anti-lynching bill, and to then to sort of circle the wagon and then go for the juggler [sic] at some time in the future."

Mat Staver, founder of the Liberty Counsel, greets the crowd after being released from the Carter County Detention Center, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, in Grayson, Kentucky.Timothy D. Easley / AP

Staver then told OneNewsNow that his organization is lobbying lawmakers in the House to have them remove the bill’s “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” language before taking a vote. The organization made a similar lobbying effort in November regarding the U.S. trade agreement with Mexico and Canada.

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Now, a day after national news outlets, including NBC News, reported on Staver’s comments on the bill, the organization says its members lives are in danger.

“Liberty Counsel has received death threats as a direct result of the false media narrative,” the group said in a statement shared with NBC News. “One person, whose identity is being traced, said ‘All LC leaders must die.’”

The nonprofit, which has been labeled an anti-LGBTQ “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has claimed “some media have falsely reported that Liberty Counsel is opposed to banning lynching.”

“We oppose lynching across the board for any person. Period!” Staver stated. “The bill in question created a list of protected categories, thus limiting the application of the law. Lynching should be prohibited no matter the person’s reason for committing this violent crime.”

In a video shared by Liberty Counsel on Thursday, the group’s director of public policy, Jonathan Alexandre, confirmed that the organization has “addressed to members of Congress questions regarding the created list of protected categories” in the anti-lynching bill.

A spokesperson for the organization did not immediately respond to NBC News’ follow-up question regarding whether Liberty Counsel has advocated for the removal of any other groups — aside from LGBTQ people — from the anti-lynching and trade bills.

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