Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hate Crimes Legislation

Today the US House Judiciary Committee will be voting on "Hate Crimes Bill" HR 1913. On the surface this sounds like a great idea. Absolutely it should be illegal to commit a crime against someone because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or disability status. (Actually, it shouldn't matter one way or the other. A crime should be a crime, and be prosecuted no matter who it was perpetrated against.)

However, the bill has many up in arms. Although it specifically state that, "Nothing in this Act, or amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of, the First Amendment to the Constitution," many fear that it could be used against religious groups that hold true to Biblical teaching about homosexuality. By using US Code title 18 Section 2 activists could impinge on the free speech and practice of religious freedom of religious organizations and the faithful. It states:

Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures its commission, is punishable as a principal.

“In other words, if a deranged person hears a priest, minister or rabbi quote Leviticus 18:22, ‘Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination,’ and he then proceeds to assault a homosexual at a gay event—telling the arresting officer he was just following through on what he heard in his house of worship—the clergyman could arguably be charged with a hate crime. "-- Bill Donahue of the Catholic League

As I read this it sounds ridiculous, except that things like this are happening elsewhere. Under the guise of tolerance people with traditional values are being forced to compromise their values or suffer the consequences of being charged with hate crimes. In Canada, Father Alphonse de Valk was investigated by the Canadian Human Right Commission (CHRC) because he publishes a magazine called Catholic Insight that upholds orthodox Catholic teaching. In 2005 the Knight of Columbus, a Catholic men's organization, was fined more that $1000 for refusing to host a wedding for a gay couple. Scott Brockie, a Christian printer, had to pay $5000 for refusing to print stationary with a homosexual theme. Sure, you think, but that is Canada. In April of 2008 a Christian photographer in New Mexico was ordered to pay $6,600 for refusing to photograph a commitment ceremony.

Please consider and think deeply about what you really believe could happen. If you believe as I do, that this could be the beginning of a slippery slope, contact your legislators and let them know how you feel.

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