Thursday, April 19, 2007

Christians Fear New Federal Hate Crimes Bill Will Stifle Their Religious Speech

On Tuesday, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee held hearings on H.R. 1592, the "Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007". The Act, among other things, would expand the current hate crime ban to include crimes motivated by the victim's sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability. One of the witnesses testifying against the bill (text of statement) was Brad W. Dacus, President of the Pacific Justice Institute. He told the committee that there is an "alarming potential, as evidenced by actual cases and situations, for well intentioned hate crimes legislation to squelch free speech, particularly religious free speech." Yesterday's Christian Post expanded on that theme in an article that focused on concerns that the bill will prevent Christians from speaking out in opposition to homosexuality or disagreeing with another person's religion.

Meanwhile, today's Advocate reports that across from the capitol, hundreds of clergy from all over the country who support passage of the new hate crimes act joined in a rally. They were led by Bishop Carlton Pearson of Tulsa, Oklahoma.