Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday defended the Christian conservative group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), saying that it was not a “hate group.”

Founded in 1994 and based in Scottsdale, Arizona, ADF was labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

ADF backed Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a gay couple's wedding reception. In June, the group prevailed at the Supreme Court. The court chided the Colorado Civil Right Commission, saying that it had shown hostility toward Phillips' religious beliefs.

(Related: Supreme Court narrowly sides with Baker who refused gay couple.)

Sessions was criticized last year for speaking to the group behind closed doors. Wednesday's speech, however, was streamed live on ADF's Facebook page.

“When I spoke to ADF last year, I learned that the Southern Poverty Law Center had classified ADF as a hate group,” Sessions said. “They have used this designation as a weapon and they have wielded it against conservative organizations that refuse to accept their orthodoxy.”

“You and I may not agree on everything, but I wanted to come back here tonight partially because I wanted to say this: You are not a hate group,” Session told the group.

On its website, the SPLC claims that ADF “has supported the recriminalization of homosexuality in the U.S. and criminalization abroad; has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad; has linked homosexuality to pedophilia and claims that a 'homosexual agenda' will destroy Christianity and society. ADF also works to develop 'religious liberty' legislation and case law that will allow the denial of goods and services to LGBT people on the basis of religion.”

The SPLC defended its labeling of ADF as a “hate group.”

“Just as sincerely held religious beliefs would not be a defense to a hate crime prosecution, vilifying others in the name of religion should not immunize a group from being designated as a hate group, in our view," SPLC President Richard Cohen said in a statement. "And it's ironic to 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."

Earlier this month, the Department of Justice announced the creation of a “religious liberty” task force, which Sessions said was needed to protect religious groups from a “dangerous” movement that is “challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom.”

(Related: Jeff Sessions announces “religious freedom” task force.)