Annual hate report shows PA ranks third in U.S. for white nationalist, anti-LGBTQ activity  

The Pennsylvania state flag
The Pennsylvania state flag. (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Pennsylvania ranks third after California and Florida for established, active hate groups according to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) latest annual report on hate and extremism. The Keystone State ranks first in leafleting of hate materials.

In 2023, the SPLC documented 1,430 hate and anti-government extremist groups that the group states “comprise the organizational infrastructure upholding white supremacy and hate in the U.S.”

On the SPLC’s hate map, there are 78 groups listed in Pennsylvania, with the majority clustered in Philadelphia, Harrisburg and the near and far surrounding suburbs to Philadelphia. Among those groups the SPLC reports having influence in Pennsylvania in hate and anti-LGBTQ+ focus are the notorious American Family Association, several Moms for Liberty chapters, No Left Turn in Education, United Patriots of America, Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust and the Constitution Party of Pennsylvania.

SPLC states, “The report chronicles trends in hard-right activity, not simply as a reality check, but as a tool to act alongside those working to prevent radicalization and counter white supremacy, disinformation and false conspiracies in 2024—in preparation for one of the most significant elections in U.S. history.”

The SPLC report states that white nationalist and anti-LGBTQ+ groups increased to record levels in the U.S. last year. SPLC has published the annual report since 1990. For 2023, the group documented 835 active anti-government groups, up 133 from 2022’s count; and 595 hate groups, an increase of 72 over the previous year’s figure.

A 50% surge in white supremacy hate groups in 2023 was the highest jump ever recorded by the SPLC, growing to 165 over 109 in 2022. The SPLC also reported a 33% rise in anti-LGBTQ+ organizations over last year. The SPLC said the growth was largely attributable to the anti-LGBTQ+ movement on the far-right as well as attacks on trans rights and book banning and education restrictions like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” laws. “Parental rights” organizations were, the group reveals, mostly just cover for anti-LGBTQ+ politicking.

“What we’re seeing now should be a wake-up call for all of us,” Margaret Huang, SPLC’s president and CEO, said in a statement to the media. “Our 2023 report documented more hate and anti-government extremist groups than ever before. With a historic election just months away, these groups are multiplying, mobilizing and making, and in some cases already implementing, plans to undo democracy.”

Hate groups have also increased in-person events and leafleting, according to the report. The SPLC tracked nearly 7,000 flyering incidents last year, many including language derived from racist and antisemitic conspiracies. Pennsylvania ranked first among those for the third year in a row. Concomitantly the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) listed Pennsylvania a top state for hate group propaganda in 2022 and 2023.

The SPLC noted hate groups also launched campaigns to gain influence in mainstream politics. This was conducted through the conservative Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025 manifesto. Project 2025, which is a key tenet of Donald Trump’s proposed second presidency, outlines anti-abortion, anti-free press and anti-LGBTQ+ priorities for a second Trump term.

Nine of the anti-government and hate groups tracked by the SPLC are part of the coalition that supports Project 2025, the organization reports.

Florida another leader in anti-government, hate groups

Among the states leading in numbers of anti-government and hate groups are California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, Washington and Ohio.

California topped the list with 51 hate and 66 anti-government groups.

The SPLC recorded the second-most groups in Florida, which has become a leader in book-banning incidents and restrictive policies on teachers. The SPLC reports 43 hate and 71 anti-government organizations in Florida, according to the report. Florida is where the influential “parental rights” group Moms for Liberty was founded.

Moms for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice was invited in March 2023 to testify before a U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary subcommittee then chaired by GOP Rep. Mike Johnson. Johnson, now House Speaker, worked as a senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund (now known as the Alliance Defending Freedom) for decades. The SPLC designates that organization as a hate group.

The annual survey of hate groups tracked 116 hate-leafleting incidents in Florida, where the antisemitic groups rallied and fliered on multiple occasions, including over Labor Day when groups named the Goyim Defense League, The Order of the Black Sun and the Maine-based Blood Tribe marched in Orlando wielding flags with swastikas and making Nazi salutes. The group was protesting Disney World for their pro-LGBTQ+ stance. The SPLC makes a clear link between these white nationalist groups and anti-LGBTQ actions. As PGN has previously reported, white nationalist groups have protested drag queen story time events.

Antisemitism on the rise

The SPLC report notes that antisemitism has become more pronounced following Israel’s war on Gaza following the Hamas-led terrorist attack on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023.

R.G. Cravens, SPLC’s senior research analyst for its Intelligence Project, said in a call with reporters, “Antisemitic conspiracies seeped into mainstream narratives at an alarming pace and 2023. Specifically after Hamas’s Oct. 7 terrorist attack, the far right blurred the lines between legitimate criticism of the Israeli government’s actions and outright antisemitism.”

Following the Hamas attack, the so-called Goyim Defense League distributed a flier online and in person that read “FREE PALESTINE,” as a “not-so-thinly-veiled attempt at stoking more antisemitism and using Palestinian people to further their own aims,” according to the report.

Christian “dominionism”

The SPLC report also cited the expanding influence of extreme Christian nationalism as a driver for the growing number of anti-government organizations.

The report again cited the influence of Speaker Johnson and his far-right politics, including his anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ+ positions and his extremist advocacy. Johnson is known widely as a theocrat and has led prayer huddles on the House floor.

The Alliance for Defending Freedom describes SPLC as a “discredited” and “scandal-ridden group,” and denounces the organization’s hate map on which the group is listed.

A post on the Alliance for Defending Freedom website states, “Eventually, their definition of hate included huge swaths of well-respected, mainstream, conservative America.” The lead issues on the website are anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-abortion.

The SPLC report specifically warns about the rise of the National Apostolic Reformation, a Christian movement made up of “dominionist leaders” that aim to “seize control” of seven areas of society, including government, education and business. These groups are notoriously anti-LGBTQ.

Decline in militias

The one area that saw a decline according to the report was the militia movement. The volume of prosecutions by the Department of Justice related to the insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 has led to the numbers of militias dropping to 52 in 2023, from 61 in 2022. Pennsylvania still has a dozen such groups.

Donald Trump has promised to pardon all those serving time for Jan. 6 crimes, calling them “patriots” and “warriors” as recently as his Las Vegas rally on June 9.

For more information on LGBTQ+ rights and hate groups, the Southern Poverty Law Center has a section devoted to those issues and resources at

Newsletter Sign-up