The U.S. House today approved a federal "hate crimes" bill that would provide special protections to homosexuals but leave Christian ministers open to prosecution should their teachings be linked to any subsequent offense, by anyone, against a "gay."
The vote, 249-175, came despite intense opposition from Republicans who argued the measure would create a privileged class.
Bishop Harry Jackson Jr. of the High Impact Leadership Coalition also condemned the action, offering a warning about the nation's future.
He was interviewed on the issue by Greg Corombos of Radio America/WND, and the audio of his interview is embedded here:
Jackson said the action puts "sexual orientation" in a specially protected class under federal law.
"Based on history, it really isn't something that needs to be protected," he said. "There's a problem that this is going to mark the first time that a protected class status is given to … whatever sexual orientation one has."
He said the experience in other countries has led to prosecution of Christians. In Sweden, for example, a minister was sentenced to 30 days in jail for preaching from Leviticus.
Similar state laws have resulted in similar results. In Philadelphia several years ago, a 73-year-old grandmother was jailed for trying to share Christian tracts with people at a homosexual festival, Jackson said.
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., said H.R. 1913 will create "thought crimes," and U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said it will end equality in the U.S.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, charged the plan will divide America into groups of more favored versus less. He again cited USC Title 18, Section 2a, the foundation of H.R. 1913, which says anyone who through speech "induces" commission of a violent hate crime "will be tried as a principal" alongside the active offender.
But there is no epidemic of hate in the U.S., he noted.
Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., introduced a striking argument: If Miss California, Carrie Prejean, who supports traditional marriage, had slapped the homosexual judge who derided her on the stage under H.R. 1913 she could be indicted as a "violent hate criminal," facing a possible 10 years in prison. But, Forbes said, if the homosexual judge had slapped her, she would have had no special protection under H.R. 1913.
Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition, said, "The Anti-Christian Caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives has acted today to lay the legal foundation and framework to investigate, prosecute and persecute pastors, youth pastors, Bible teachers, and anyone else whose Bible speech and thought is based upon and reflects the truths found in the Bible.
"A pastor's sermon could be considered 'hate speech' under this legislation if heard by an individual who then acts aggressively against persons based on 'sexual orientation.' The pastor could be prosecuted for 'conspiracy to commit a hate crime'" she said.
"This Democrat-controlled Congress has now elevated pedophiles and other bizarre sexual orientations, as well as drag queens, transgenders, lesbians and gay men to the level of protection of that already given to African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities in the law," she said.
House Republican leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the Democrats have placed a higher value on some lives compared to others, a decision he said is unconstitutional.
Not happy with just making Christian teachings on homosexuality illegal, supporters have approved a law that also provides grant money for so-called "sensitivity-training" to provide pro-homosexual propaganda,
noted the public-interest legal group Liberty Counsel.
When a plan virtually identical to the current Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 was developed in the last Congress, Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala., admitted during a hearing on the bill it could be used to prosecute pastors merely for preaching against homosexuality under the premise that they could be "inducing" violence in someone.
The bill ultimately failed then because President Bush determined it was unnecessary – the crimes banned in the legislation already are addressed by other laws – and it probably was unconstitutional.
"The federal hate crimes bill is bad news for everyone," said Brad Dacus of Pacific Justice Institute, who testified in Congress against the bill two years ago.
"Instead of treating all crime victims equally, it creates a caste system where select groups, such as gays and lesbians, are given greater priority in the criminal justice system. This is not progress; it is political correctness. In other nations and states, the adoption of hate crimes legislation has been the first step toward widespread suppression of speech and ideas critical of homosexuality," he said.
Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel has spoken out against H.R. 1913 a number of times.
"As has proved to be true in both Europe and Canada, this Orwellian piece of legislation is the direct precursor to freedom killing and speech chilling 'hate speech' laws. It represents a thinly veiled effort to ultimately silence – under penalty of law – morally, medically and biblically based opposition to the homosexual lifestyle," he said.
Barber said the 14th Amendment already provides that victims of violent crimes are afforded equal protection under the law "regardless of sexual preference or proclivity."
Barber cited FBI statistics showing there were about 1.4 million violent crimes in the U.S. in 2007, but only 1,512 were presumed to be "hate crimes." And two-thirds of those involved claims of "hateful" words, touching and shoving.
Under the specifications of the law, a Christian needn't touch a homosexual to face charges, he noted.
"If the homosexual merely claims he was subjectively placed in 'apprehension of bodily injury' by the Christian's words then, again, the Christian can be thrown in prison for a felony 'hate crime,'" he said.
WND reported previously that the plan was introduced by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., who said, "The bill only applies to bias-motivated violent crimes and does not impinge public speech or writing in any way."
Section 10 of the act states, "Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of, the First Amendment to the Constitution."
However, critics cite United States Code Title 18, Section 2, as evidence of how the legislation could be used against people who merely speak out against homosexuality. It states: Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures its commission, is punishable as a principal.
Jeff King, president of International Christian Concern, warned Christians to speak up before the legislation passes. He said they are acting like the proverbial frog in a slowly heating kettle that boils to death.
"They need to wake up and take action to oppose this threat to religious liberty."