A “hate crimes” bill opponents claim will be used to crack down on Christian speech, even the reading of the Bible, is poised to be signed by President Obama, a longtime proponent of the plan to give homosexuals and others with alternative lifestyles special protections not provided other classes of citizens.
The Senate approved the measure 68-29 today after Democrats strategically attached it to a “must-pass” $680 billion defense appropriations plan.
Most Republicans, although normally strong supporters of the U.S. military, opposed the bill.
“The inclusion of the controversial language of the hate-crimes legislation, which is unrelated to our national defense, is deeply troubling,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., told Fox News after the vote.
The plan also hands out federal money to states and local governments in pursuit of “preventing” hate crimes.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said the move is a step toward criminalizing thought and suggested the bill will be a threat to those to speak out about their religious faith.
Obama was strongly supported during his 2008 presidential campaign by homosexual advocates and has expressed a willingness to act on the proposal, calling it an “important civil-rights issue.”
WND reported days ago when several organizations urged their members to contact Congress to oppose the plan.
The bill – which creates federal protections and privileges for homosexuals and other alternative lifestyles but denies those protections to other groups of citizens – earlier was approved in the U.S. House.
When the Senate earlier approved a key move, Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, said, “In … months President Obama and the Democratic-led Congress have forced on the American people the most radical and immoral agenda.
“The administration and the Democratic-led Congress are out of touch with the mainstream. They represent the most fringe extreme elements of America. They will not be able to continue their efforts to undermine moral values, socialize the economy and trash American pride and heritage.
“The people will not remain silent forever,” he said.
The House vote prompted the American Family Association to alert its constituents and create a procedure for them to send e-mails to Washington about the plan.
“In its never-ending quest to shred America’s Judeo-Christian value system, the left is planning to hurriedly push through a ‘thought crimes’ bill,” the alert said. “So-called ‘hate crimes’ laws are really laws that criminalize thought, because they punish an individual not for what he did but for what he thought. Politically incorrect thoughts about homosexual behavior will result in enhanced criminal sanctions under this law.”
The AFA said, “Everywhere hate-crimes laws have gone into effect, they have been quickly used to intimidate, silence and punish people of faith who express deeply held religious objections to the normalization of homosexuality.
“Such laws not only punish officially disapproved speech and thought, they create two tiers of victims. Under hate-crimes laws, some victims get more protections than others, which violates the fundamental American principle of equality under the law,” the alert said. “In fact, such laws actively discriminate against heterosexual Christians who are victims of crime, since they will get less legal protection than homosexual victims.”
The American Family Association said since “sexual orientation” nowhere is defined in the law, “this law will give pedophiles, voyeurs and exhibitionists special protections, which is why the bill has correctly been called ‘The Pedophile Protection Act.'”
Also offering an online “contact Washington” process is the organization Pray in Jesus Name, founded by former U.S. Navy Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, who was involuntarily removed from the U.S. military after he prayed “in Jesus’ name.”
His organization submitted via fax almost 400,000 petitions to Washington opposing the “hate crimes” law.
Also, a separate larger FedEx campaign to warn U.S. Senate members of the dangers of the “hate crimes” plan dispatched more than 705,000 letters to senators.
The letter-writing effort was organized by WND columnist Janet Porter, who also heads the Faith2Action Christian ministry. It allowed citizens to send individually addressed letters to all 100 senators over their own “signature” for only $10.95.
Klingenschmitt said there is a remote chance Obama may not like the proposal, since it is linked to funding for an engine for the F-35 fighter jet, which he has opposed.
“If President Obama vetoes the F-35 second engine, as he promised when speaking in Phoenix last spring, he will ironically kill the homosexual agenda and their evil ‘Pedophile Protection Act,'” he wrote.
Attempts by Republicans to add amendments stating “pedophilia is not protected as a sexual orientation” were blocked by House Democrats.
In fact, Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., said all alternative sexual lifestyles should be protected.
“This bill addresses our resolve to end violence based on prejudice and to guarantee that all Americans regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability or all of these ‘philias’ and fetishes and ‘isms’ that were put forward need not live in fear because of who they are. I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this rule,” he said.
Further, the proposal has a broad definition of “intimidation,” so a Christian pastor’s sermon could be considered “hate speech” if heard by an individual who then acts aggressively against someone based on “sexual orientation.”
The pastor, Klingenschmitt said, could be prosecuted for “conspiracy to commit a hate crime” or “inciting violence against gays” for quoting the Bible.
As it went through the House, the version was H.R. 1913, or the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. The Senate then worked on its own version, and it ultimately was added as an amendment to a defense spending plan.
As WND reported, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder admitted a homosexual activist who is attacked following a Christian minister’s sermon about homosexuality would be protected by the proposed federal law, but a minister attacked by a homosexual wouldn’t be.
The revelations came from Holder’s June testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was taking comments on the proposal. The measure also was the subject of discussion on talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh’s July 3 show.
“This is the question,” Limbaugh said. “(Sen.) Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) presents a hypothetical where a minister gives a sermon, quotes the Bible about homosexuality and is thereafter attacked … by a gay activist because of what the minister said about his religious beliefs and what Scripture says about homosexuality. Is the minister protected?”
No, said Holder.
“Well, the statute would not – would not necessarily cover that,” Holder stated. “We’re talking about crimes that have a historic basis. Groups who have been targeted for violence as a result of the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, that is what this statute tends – is designed to cover. We don’t have the indication that the attack was motivated by a person’s desire to strike at somebody who was in one of these protected groups. That would not be covered by the statute.”
Continued Limbaugh, “In other words: ministers and whites are not covered by the hate-crime statute because we’re talking about crimes that have a historic basis, groups who have been targeted for violence as a result of their skin color, sexual orientation. So hate crimes are reserved exclusively for blacks and homosexuals. Everybody else can get to the back of the bus on this one.”
The bill was nicknamed “The Pedophile Protection Act” when Rep. Steve King proposed an amendment during its trek through the U.S. House that would specify pedophiles could not use the law to protect their activities.
Majority Democrats flatly refused.
Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, told WND the move is alarming because “this would be the very first governmental and societal disapproval of a sincerely held religious belief, held by a majority of Americans, namely that homosexual behavior is immoral.
“It’s the first time the federal government is writing into law a disapproval of that belief,” he said.
While he said he doesn’t believe there will be “immediate” prosecutions of pastors and churches for teaching the biblical injunction that homosexual behavior is sin, “I think the effect on speech and religious speech is nonetheless real.”
He said he does expect that pastors soon will begin being called to testify in “hate crime” cases in court “as to what that pastor preaches, what the church teaches, what the Bible teaches.”
“When this happens, there will be a shock wave through pastorates in America,” he said.
Ultimately, he warned that the homosexual advocates who have pushed the “hate crimes” plan consider this law just the first step “toward silencing Christians.”
That development already has been observed not only with the enactment of “hate crimes” laws in other nations but in the “hate crime” related speech codes existing on many university campuses in the U.S., Stanley said.