Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in a closed-door speech this week, told Alliance Defending Freedom that religion is under fire in the United States, but the speech given at ADF’s Summit on Religious Liberty in California, isn’t just making headlines — so is ADF.

On its website, ADF defines itself as “an alliance-building legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.”

However, the Southern Poverty Law Center put ADF on its “Active Hate Groups 2016” list and labeled it “Anti-LGBT.” The designation has drawn the attention of the mainstream media.

RELATED: Faith Groups Challenge Gays to ‘Debate’ not ‘Hate’

On the SPLC website, the group says ADF “specializes in supporting the recriminalization of homosexuality abroad, ending same-sex marriage, and generally making life as difficult as possible for LGBT communities in the U.S. and internationally.”

ABC News referenced the SPLC description in a Wednesday article, “Jeff Sessions addresses ‘anti-LGBT hate group,’ but DOJ won’t release his remarks.”

ADF fired back, issuing a statement to ABC News entitled, “Retract defamatory story, issue apology.”

“ABC News has committed journalistic malpractice,” said Kerri Kupec, ADF legal counsel and director of communications, in the statement. “For ABC News to essentially cut and paste false charges against Alliance Defending Freedom by a radically left-wing, violence-inciting organization like Southern Poverty Law Center is a discredit to ABC News and to the profession.”

“Alliance Defending Freedom is one of the most respected and successful Supreme Court advocates in the legal profession, having won seven cases at the high court in the last seven years,” Kupec continued. 

“Southern Poverty Law Center spends its time and money attacking veterans, nuns, Muslims who oppose terrorism, Catholics, Evangelicals, and anyone else who dares disagree with its far-left ideology,” Kupec said. 

“Meanwhile, ADF works every day to preserve and affirm free speech and the free exercise of religion for people from all walks of life and all backgrounds because we believe freedom is for everyone,” Kupec added.

In response, SPLC issued a “Statement on Alliance Defending Freedom’s attack on SPLC and ABC News.”

“The Alliance Defending Freedom spreads demonizing lies about the LGBT community in this country and seeks to criminalize it abroad,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen. “If the ADF had its way, gay people would be back in the closet for fear of going to jail.”

“It was inappropriate for Attorney General Sessions to lend his credibility to the group by appearing before it, and it was ironic that he would suggest that the rights of ADF sympathizers are under attack when the ADF is doing everything in its power to deny the equal protection of the laws to the LGBT community,” Cohen continued.

CBN News reached out to the Department of Justice and Sessions, requesting comment. They have not yet responded to our inquiry.

NBC News says it did not receive a response from the Justice Department when it requested comment on “the public outcry.”

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