Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
Debate has been launched in Congress on a federal “hate speech” proposal similar to a state law that already has been used to send grandmothers to jail for their “crime” of sharing the Gospel of Jesus on a Philadelphia public sidewalk. And Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute told members that “our society needs to heed voices of conscience – not haul them into court.”
Dacus said in comments prepared for presentation to the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security that H.R. 1592 would use the power and authority of the federal government to stifle free speech, especially religious speech.
He talked about the misuse of “hate crimes” laws that give those claiming “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” discrimination special legal rights, pointing out that such a maneuver recently was used, as WND has reported, by the Hindu American Foundation to label a long list of Christian ministry websites who promote Christian beliefs and offer the choice of those beliefs to those involved in other religions as “hate speech.”
“What makes America great is its tolerance for a diversity of viewpoints – even viewpoints we may not agree with. H.R. 1592 is a smokescreen for stifling dissent on important issues of national debate such as sexual orientation, gender identity and religion,” he said.
“This so-called ‘hate crime’ legislation begins to lay the legal foundation and framework for investigating, prosecuting and persecuting pastors, business owners, and anyone else whose actions reflect their faith – as has already been starkly demonstrated in California, Canada, Europe and Australia,” he said.
The proposal, on its face, would create bans on “hate crimes,” but Rev. Louis Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition said it more accurately is “an attempt by the ultra liberals and the homosexuals to force Americans to accept homosexuality and gender disturbance as equal to God’s Created Order of heterosexuality.”
“This bill says that hordes of homosexuals are being forced to flee their home states because they are routinely denied access to goods, services and employment,” he said. “This explains the mystery of the crowded highways and airports in San Francisco and New York. … The reasons for the bill are completely unsupported.”
He said states already have the resources to deal with crimes of bodily harm or assault, and the plan is simply not needed. Worse yet, he said, it creates a crime of “thought.”
Sheldon’s organization is releasing a poster showing Jesus as a wanted fugitive, for “crimes” under the planned “hate crimes” legislation.
“The ‘Hate Crimes’ bill is better named ‘Hate Grandma’ or “hate Free Speech’ bill as it poses a serious threat to the freedom of speech for every American,” Folger said. “We must stop it before they send your grandma, your pastor, or you to jail for sharing your faith or speaking the truth about an agenda that seeks to silence us.”
Sheldon noted that the plan adds “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” – “perceived or actual” for special federal protection under the Commerce Clause. The plan already is on the fast track, with the possibility of being reviewed by the full Judiciary Committee next week.
The National Prayer Network, led by Rev. Ted Pike, is promoting a campaign aimed at defeating “hate crimes” proposals
The proposal, by U.S. Rep. John Conyers, the head of the House Judiciary Committee, is called “The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007,” and the Rev. Ted Pike, of the National Prayer Network said it is horrible.
Michael Marcavage, director of Repent America joined Pike in expressing alarm over the plan.
Marcavage told WND that plan would invert American justice, and instead of requiring evidence it would leave it to someone who claims to be offended to determine whether a “crime” has been committed.
“Truth is not allowed as evidence in hate crimes trials. … A homosexual can claim emotional damage from hearing Scripture that describes his lifestyle as an abomination. He can press charges against the pastor or broadcaster who merely reads the Bible in public. The ‘hater’ can be fined thousands of dollars and even imprisoned!” Marcavage said.
As WND has reported, such laws already have been used around the world, where in Canada pastors are fearful of reading biblical injunctions against homosexuality, and in Australia where two pastors were convicted of “vilifying” Islam.
Peter LaBarbera, of Americans for Truth, noted that in Canada and France both, legislators have been fined for publicly criticizing homosexuality. Three years ago, a Swedish hate crimes law was used to put Pastor Ake Green, who preached that homosexuality is a sin, in jail for a month.
“And recently, a British couple told how they were denied the chance to adopt because it was determined that their Christian faith might ‘prejudice’ them against a homosexual child put in their care,” LaBarbera added.
Already in the United States, Catholic Charities of Boston halted all adoption operations in the state after being told under Massachusetts’ pro-’gay’ nondiscrimination law, only agencies that placed children in homosexual-led households would get licensed by the state.