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 ↑
A former U.S. Navy chaplain who was removed from the service after he exercised his right to pray “in Jesus’ name” against the wishes of his chain of command read the biblical condemnation of homosexuality at a rally in front of the U.S. Justice Department to protest the nation’s new “hate crimes” law.
Two weeks ago, President Obama signed into law the “Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act” after Democrats strategically attached it to a “must-pass” $680 billion defense appropriations bill.
The law cracks down on any acts that could be linked to criticism of homosexuality or even the “perception” of homosexuality.
In response, pastors and other Christian leaders gathered yesterday to read from the Bible itself
at a rally organized with the help of Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Coalition.
Former Navy Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt of PrayInJesusName.com read from Romans: “And they that commit such things are worthy of death.”
“The government has to invade my thoughts to decide what my motive was in quoting the Bible,” Klingenschmitt explained. “I can be prosecuted if the government thinks my motive was wrong.”
Obama boasted of the “hate crimes” bill when he signed it into law.
“After more than a decade, we’ve passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray or who they are,” he said.
The rally took place in front of the offices of Attorney General Eric Holder, who supported the bill although he explained it does not protect all people equally. He is charged with enforcing the law.
Cass told WND that the event was to “assert our liberties, to register our concerns.”
“We’re going to press on looking for opportunities to challenge the law on its face,” he said.
Some of the rally was captured by Christian Broadcasting Network on video:
“If this law is used to silence me or any of these preachers for speaking the truth, then we will be forced to conscientiously defy it,” Rick Scarborough, president of Vision America, declared. “That is my calling as a Christian and my right as an American citizen.”
Cass said, “We believe this is the biggest threat to religious free speech in the history of the United States.”
Also attending was Paul Diamond of the Christian Legal Center in the United Kingdom, where “hate crimes” laws already have been in effect.
He noted a judge has concluded since Christianity is a “discriminatory” religion, employers were not obligated to hire “Christians.”
Other leaders at the rally were Bishop E.W. Jackson of Staying True to America’s National Destiny, J. Grace Harley of Jesus is the Answer Ministries, Janet Porter of Faith2Action, Michael Marcavage and Linda Beckman of “Philadelphia 11″ and Repent America, Paul Blair of Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ, Matt Barber of Liberty Council, Jim Garlow of California Pastor’s Rapid Response Network, Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, Scott Lively of Defend the Family, C.S. Cooley of Church of God in Christ and Pierre Bynum of Family Research Council.
Porter wrote in a column, “Rick Scarborough spoke for all of us when he said, ‘This is a sad day for America. While a small minority of homosexual activists are celebrating, thousands of pastors, priests and rabbis are lamenting their loss of First Amendment freedoms. I for one refuse to bow before this unjust and unconstitutional law, and I intend to continue to preach the whole counsel of God as revealed in the scriptures.’”
“But this law doesn’t just affect pastors; it will criminalize the beliefs of millions of ordinary people who may now be afraid to speak even their pro-marriage positions lest it spark a federal ‘hate crime’ investigation,” Porter wrote.
Cass noted in the U.K., a senior citizen was accused of “hate crimes” for writing a letter objecting to a pro-homosexual festival:
“This is the way it gets implemented in all the other countries,” Cass said. “Christians are singled out for prosecution, with threats, imprisonment and fines simply for refusing to stop doing what Christ commands: proclaiming the truth.”
“[These cases] are a good precursor of where this goes,” he warned.
The bill signed by Obama was opposed by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which called it a “menace” to civil liberties. The commission argued the law allows federal authorities to bring charges against individuals even if they’ve already been cleared in a state court.
A supporter of the hate crimes plan was quoted saying, “The federal hate crimes bill serves as a vital safety valve in case a state hate-crimes prosecution fails.”
Holder himself has suggested the law can be used to prosecute cases in which state prosecutors don’t file charges because of a lack of evidence.
The Alliance Defense Fund earlier issued an analysis calling the proposal a “grave threat” to the First Amendment.
Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley explained it “provides special penalties based on what people think, feel, or believe.
“ADF has clearly seen the evidence of where ‘hate crimes’ legislation leads when it has been tried around the world: It paves the way for the criminalization of speech that is not deemed ‘politically correct,’” Stanley explained. “‘Hate crimes’ laws fly in the face of the underlying purpose of the First Amendment, which was designed specifically to protect unpopular speech.”
The ADF analysis said, “The emotion of hate is an unfortunate reality of the human experience. But it is not a crime unless accompanied by a criminal action – and even then it is the action that is within the police power of the government, not the emotion. The reality is that ‘hate’ crime laws are designed to punish people for what they think, feel, or believe. The crime itself that is committed is already punished under various federal and state criminal laws. The only thing added … is punishment for what a person thinks, feels, or believes. That intent is diametrically opposed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“While we do not advocate crime and violence, the real issue behind the ‘hate’ crimes law is its punishment of thought and belief and the imposition of a political orthodoxy on people of faith,” the analysis said.
“There is a legitimate concern that once Congress makes any ‘hate’ crime a federal offense, the categories of crime will expand to include speech that causes someone to ‘feel’ intimidated, just as they have in other places such as Australia, Canada, and Sweden,” it continued.