A federal “hate crimes” bill that officially is to enhance punishments for “violence motivated by bias that is a relic of slavery” but is feared by Christians as a potential bludgeon against basic biblical teachings has been returned to the congressional agenda by Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas.
The proposal had been stymied during the Bush administration by the president’s threat of a veto but President-elect Barack Obama’s own website has promised an expansion of federal “hate crimes” laws. The bill, the “David Ray Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009,” has been pending in Congress in one form or another since at least 2007 but never was advanced into law because of stated opposition from President Bush, who found it unneeded and probably unconstitutional.
However, the plan by Jackson-Lee, who has advocated for the special protections for those with issues involving “gender identity,” already has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary for the 2009 Congress.
Former White House insider Chuck Colson, in his Breakpoint commentary, has called such proposals “Thought Crimes” plans. “This bill is not about hate. It’s not even about crime. It’s about outlawing peaceful speech – speech that asserts that homosexual behavior is morally wrong,” he said.
In the United Kingdom, the Christian Institute today issued an updated report on some of the cases that have developed there under similar legislation. For example, a pastor was detained for “homophobia” for reading from the biblical book of Romans, a Christian campaigner was arrested for handing out tracts and a Roman Catholic archbishop was investigated for criticizing homosexual partnerships.
Matt Barber, chief of cultural affairs at Liberty Counsel, has spoken out repeatedly in opposition to the idea. “The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law,” he has said. “Hate crimes legislation is … [a] violation of the Fourteenth Amendment in that it elevates one class of citizen based upon their chosen sexual behaviors above other people.”
Coral Ridge Ministries, launched by the late D. James Kennedy, has published a book on the issue by John Aman, which says such laws put into doubt “the future of religious liberty and freedom of speech for Christians.”
If you don’t know your district, call the capitol hotline tollfree at 1-877-851 -6437 or 1-202-225-3121 and say “Please vote against both hate crimes bills, H.R. 256 and H.R. 262. Hate laws are unconstitutional and have taken away the God-given right of free speech in other Countries.”