Sunday, May 03, 2009

Q&A on Hate Crimes Bill Seeks To Reassure Religious Leaders

Third Way has recently issued a memo titled Questions and Answers about the Hate Crimes Bill for People of Faith. It attempts to alleviate concerns raised particularly by conservative Christian groups about religious freedom and the Hate Crimes Prevention Act that has recently passed the House. (See prior posting). The memo concludes that pastors could not be prosecuted under the bill for preaching that homosexuality is an abomination, or saying that gay people will go to hell. It points to specific language in the bill, language of the House Report and the special role of the 1st Amendment. The memo also points out that the bill expands protection against religiously motivated hate crimes:
Current federal law only protects against hate crimes based on
religion if the person was targeted because they were engaged in a federally protected activity like voting or going to school. The legislation under consideration by Congress would remove that limitation.
[Thanks to Michael Lieberman for the lead.]