'Hate' Crimes Bill a Threat to Liberty

The U.S. House of Representatives easily approved "hate" crimes protections for homosexuals and transgendered individuals April 29. The Senate is expected to take up the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act prior to leaving for their August recess.

The House bill would add "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the current categories–such as race, religion and national origin–protected from hate crimes. "Sexual orientation" includes homosexuality, while "gender identity," or transgendered status, takes in transsexuals and cross-dressers.

If adopted by Congress and signed by the president, the "hate" crimes legislation would establish a terrible precedent, making sexual preference in any way, shape or form a protected right.

It is not unthinkable, under the scenario presented by the "hate" crimes bill, that if a person commits a violent act based on a victim's "sexual orientation" after hearing the Bible's teaching, for instance, that homosexual behavior is a sin, the teacher or preacher might be charged with inducing that person to commit the crime.

This is a major issue for the cause of religious freedom and freedom of speech. In the face of a vote in the U.S. Senate, it is imperative that evangelicals contact their senators and urge them to resist the pressure of political correctness and to stand up for the constitutional principles of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

People should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law when they commit crimes against persons or property. Yet it is a dangerous mistake to try to elevate some crimes of violence as being more heinous than other crimes of violence because of the purported motives of the perpetrator or the identity of the victim. Murder is murder and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, regardless of the possible motives of the murderer or the racial, ethnic or sexual identity of the victim.

I encourage you to read this letter from U.S. Senator Jim DeMint on this most critical issue. Senator DeMint rightly warns that this legislation may well impact your "freedom to speak and preach biblical truth."

This is no time to be silent. As people of God, we must let our voices be heard. Justice should be meted out based on actions, not upon the particular identities or lifestyles of perpetrators or victims.

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