Arrested for sharing the Gospel? An expected outcome in North Korea, China or any Muslim country on the globe. But in Pennsylvania? Yep. Arlene Elshinnawy, a 75-year-old grandmother of three, and Lynda Beckman, a 70-year-old grandmother of 10 (along with nine others), were arrested for sharing their faith on the public sidewalk in Philadelphia, Pa., USA. They faced 47 years (the rest of their lives) in jail for spreading the Gospel because of a Pennsylvania “hate crimes” law that is nearly identical to H.R. 254 – the “hate crimes” bill reintroduced in Congress and said to be on the “fast track” in the House Judiciary Committee. This is the same bill that previously passed both the House and Senate and was killed only because of Republican leadership opposition in conference – something we no longer have.
Don’t believe hate crimes will silence your freedom of speech and freedom of religion? Think again.
Pastors in Pennsylvania are now seeking liability insurance to protect themselves from being prosecuted under the “hate speech” law. That’s right. They are reacting to Pennsylvania’s addition of “sexual orientation” to the state’s hate crimes laws. Of particular concern was the expansion of the definition of “harassment” to include “harassment by communication” – which means one could be convicted based upon spoken words alone.
Their fear is a rational one. Hate crimes invariably lead to fines and jail time for those who “violate” them. Just ask Sweden’s Pastor Ake Green. Green faced jail time for the content of his sermon. He read from Romans Chapter 1 – something that is no longer legal in Sweden.
The “hate crimes” – or more appropriately, “thought crimes” – bill is the single most dangerous bill in America. Along with its companion, the “Employment Non-Discrimination Act,” or ENDA – “Thought Crimes for your Business”– is expected to pass this session of Congress. Bow to the homosexual agenda – endorse, embrace, subsidize and celebrate it – or go out of business. That’s what it did to the largest and most respected adoption agency in Boston, Catholic Charities, who, by refusing to place vulnerable orphans in homosexual homes, was forced to close its doors. England’s about to get a dose of the same.
But you don’t speak out about homosexuality, you say? Think you’re safe? Think again. Here are just a few examples I’ve highlighted my book, “The Criminalization of Christianity,” where you’ll find a whole lot more.
Protest Islam? That’s a hate crime!
Maybe it had something to do with Sept. 11. Maybe it had something to do with the beheadings. Maybe it had something to do with what is written in the Quran. But Canadian Pastor Mark Harding doesn’t believe the Muslim religion is one of peace. So when his local high school started handing out copies of the Quran and announced a policy of setting aside a room for Muslim students to pray during school hours, Pastor Harding protested. Didn’t think it was a good idea – especially since Christian, Jewish and Buddhist kids weren’t afforded the same opportunity.
After losing an appeal to Canada’s Supreme Court Oct. 17, 2002, Harding was said to have “willfully promoted hatred” in violation of Canadian law that had just passed six months earlier. He was then forced to undergo two years probation and 340 hours of “community service” at the Islamic Society of North America in Mississauga, Ontario.
So, for the “crime” of handing out leaflets protesting a high school’s pro-Muslim policy, Pastor Harding was ordered to do community service to further the very religion he morally opposed.
Harding, an evangelical Protestant, says his evangelism is motivated by love for the Muslim people (rather than hate). In fact, in a phone call used as “evidence” against him in the trial, Harding verbalizes that he loves them. He says he wants them to go to heaven. Yet he received more than 3,000 hate-filled calls – many of them death threats. Some motioned by running their finger across their neck from ear to ear. Upon entering court for his trial, he required police protection from a large crowd of Muslims who were chanting, “Infidels, you will burn in hell.” Of course, that speech is loving.
Harding said, “I had a call from someone who said they were from (Louis) Farrakhan’s (Nation of Islam) group, and they were going to break my legs.” Adding, “Another caller said he would rip out my testicles.” Can’t you just feel the love?
But instead of just “stuffing envelopes” to promote the Muslim faith, his punishment included Islam indoctrination under the direction of Mohammad Ashraf, the general secretary of the Islam center. Under penalty of going to jail, Harding was forced to undergo Islamic “re-education,” which included reading a book called “Towards Understanding Islam,” by Sayyid Abul A’la Maududi, which provided a description of one who does not follow Islam, referred to as an infidel or a “kafir”:
“Such a man … will spread confusion and disorder on the earth,” the book says. “He will, without the least compunction, shed blood, violate other men’s rights, be cruel to them, and create disorder and destruction in the world. His perverted thoughts and ambitions, his blurred vision and disturbed scale of values, and his evil-spelling activities would make life bitter for him and for all around him.”
“It was obvious that he intended to make sure I understood that I was a kafir,” said Harding, who was forbidden from voicing any objections or saying anything negative about Islam or its prophet, Muhammad.
Harding, who had been prevented from speaking publicly about his case under a gag order, told WorldNetDaily: “He said he was my supervisor, and if I didn’t follow what he said, he would send me back to jail.”
Harding, 49, has suffered four heart attacks since 1997 and is unable to work in his cabinet-making trade because of his poor health. Yet he must travel three-hours to the Islamic Society of North America to complete his sentence. His attorney has entered a plea based on humanitarian grounds, due to her client’s poor health, to allow him to complete his sentence at an Islam Center closer to his home. Isn’t that nice? Perhaps, if he’s lucky, he can be indoctrinated closer to home.
And speaking of indoctrination, thanks to the city council in Hamtramck, that shrill siren from Muslim mosques is now blasted five times a day just outside of Detroit. Whether your child is sleeping or you’re on an important call, for about 15 minutes every day it’s going to sound like a tornado drill outside your suburban Detroit home or business beginning at 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. so the Muslims will know when to pray. But if you were to ring church bells – which typically play music for two minutes once a week – in a Muslim country, you could be shot.
California ‘hate crimes’ law – pro-lifers automatic suspects
“Hate crimes” bill, SB 1234, was signed into law by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Sept. 22, 2004. SB 1234 creates a new hate-crime training requirement for law enforcement called “multimission criminal extremism.” In addition to those categories already considered for special punishment under the term “hate crimes,” the new multimission criminal extremism training adds “anti-reproductive-rights crimes.”
That means if you are pro-life, you are an automatic suspect, and law enforcement is being specially trained on how to handle you. I wonder what that special “multimission criminal extremism” trains officers to look for. “Anti-reproductive-rights” T-shirts? Those who’ve passed “anti-reproductive rights” laws? Those who’ve debated the “anti-reproductive-rights” position? If I lived in California, I have a feeling my picture would be found at the local post office. If you think killing children is wrong, they’re training people against you, too.
This law also expands “crimes” to include “speech” interpreted as “threats, intimidation and coercion.” As long as a “victim” claims the speech makes them “feel” “intimidated,” violators will be liable to penalties of $10,000-$25,000 and a year in jail.
“[And] any person who says they are ‘fearful’ because someone has said homosexuality is wrong could have the speaker arrested and jailed,” according to James Hartline, California pro-family activist.
This will be used to criminalize expressions of biblical truth about homosexuality as “hate speech” and could very well target not just organizations who disagree with homosexuality, but Christian bookstores that carry books like “The Criminalization of Christianity” or another book already ruled to contain “intimidating” beliefs: the Bible.
I agree with James Hartline who was quoted saying: “This is the worst bill ever put before the California Legislature – and that’s saying a lot.”
And now it’s about to go federal: the “hate crimes” bill in Congress will pave the way for the very same thing. If you are for “hate crimes” legislation, you are also for the persecution of Christians. It’s a package deal. There is no longer any doubt; that’s exactly where it leads. Just ask Arlene Elshinnawy and Lynda Beckman.
If we are to stop this freight train aimed at our freedom from passing in Congress, we must work together and speak in a unified voice. Faith2Action and the Christian Interactive Network have reserved the website: www.StopHateCrimesNow.com that features Arlene and Lynda’s stories in two 30-second television ads that you can help air. One hundred percent of donations will go toward airtime. With your help, we will place these commercials on cable news like Fox, CNN and MSNBC and earn additional media elsewhere. And if your organization is willing to link to www.StopHateCrimesNow.com , you will keep all your names and all new names generated. But most importantly, by sounding the alarm together, we have a chance of stopping it.
If the “hate crimes” bill or ENDA is passed by Congress, we are ready for Phase 2: sending veto pens to the president with individualized messages urging a veto.
One thing’s for sure, if you value your freedom, you need to use it now. Yes, you have the right to remain silent, but if you use it very much longer, those are precisely the words you, your pastor, business owner or grandmother will hear before seeing the inside of a prison cell.
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Janet L. Folger is president of Faith2Action and host of “Faith2Action with Janet Folger” and the “Faith2Action Commentary” currently heard in 70 markets.