But only if you’re considered ‘tolerant’. By groups with power and
influence who don’t happen to tolerate views that are grounded in
religious teaching and tradition.

What’s going on here?

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee will vote on a
controversial legislation [this] week that seeks to add homosexual and
transgender people to the list of classes federally protected from hate
crimes.

H.R. 1913, named the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Act of 2009,
is expected to be passed by the committee [this] week and come to the
House floor for a vote in the spring, announced Rep. Barney Frank
(D-Mass.), the original co-sponsor of the bill and an openly gay member
of Congress, on his website.

This has been tried before, though surreptitiously.

An identical legislation (H.R. 1592) was passed by the
U.S. House in 2007. The Senate later attached the hate crimes
legislation to a high-priority defense spending bill, which included
funding for the Iraq War, in a political maneuver to pressure former
president George W. Bush to pass the amendment.

But Bush said the spending bill and the hate crime legislation were
two separate issues and vetoed the bill including the legislation.

These things need to stand alone and have a fair hearing, on their own merits, with full ‘daylight’ for public comment.

The hate crimes measure seeks to add violence against
individuals based on sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or
disability to the list of federal hate crimes. Current federal law
covers crimes committed on the basis of race, religion, color or
national origin. If passed, the federal government would be more
involved and have greater power to investigate alleged hate crimes.

This thing is rife with potential for abuse in its application. Especially against clergy.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue addressed this issue today:
 
“The idea of being prosecuted for reading Scripture may seem delirious,
but it is just as crazy to think it couldn’t happen. Consider the
facts. When this bill was being considered in 2007, Rep. Louie Gohmert
of Texas asked Alabama Rep. Art Davis (his amendment is in the bill)
the following question: ‘If a minister preaches that sexual relations
outside of marriage of a man and a woman is wrong, and somebody within
that congregation goes out and does an act of violence, and that person
says that that minister counseled or induced him through the sermon to
commit that act, are you saying under your amendment that in no way
could that ever be introduced against the minister?’ Davis, who
supports the bill, replied, ‘No.’
 
“In other words, if a deranged person hears a priest, minister or rabbi
quote Leviticus 18:22, ‘Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with
womankind: it is an abomination,’ and he then proceeds to assault a
homosexual at a gay event—telling the arresting officer he was just
following through on what he heard in his house of worship—the
clergyman could arguably be charged with a hate crime. The very
prospect of something like this happening should be enough to make any
reasonable person wonder what is going on.
 
“The problem in general with hate crimes legislation is that it invites
the government to probe way beyond motive. And in instances like this,
it trespasses on free speech and religious liberty. This is a road no
defender of liberty should ever want to go down.”

There’s precedent for these warnings.

“All freedom loving Americans must voice their
opposition to this bill,” said Dr. Gary Cass of the Christian
Anti-Defamation Commission. “If this bill passes it lays the foundation
for censoring Christians. In other countries, Like in Canada and
Sweden, where these types of hate crime laws have been implemented,
pastors and Christians have been jailed and fined for their faithful
adherence to the biblical values.”

And by the way, what is a hate crime?

What makes a “hate crime” different from other crimes?
The proposed “hate crime” legislation seeks to judge the “evil” of a
crime based on who committed the crime and who was the victim, rather
than the nature of the crime itself. This divides people in to classes
of those protected under hate crime law and those who are not. These
“classes” will be based on categories such as race, sexual orientation
or maybe even religion.

But only certain members of certain religions?

Not only are these protected species of people able to
have a different legal standing than the unprotected species, they will
also become eligible to receive assistance based on who they are rather
than based on their need. Does this sound fair? Does this sound like
equality?

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....