A very important message from Richard Land, The President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
The U.S. Senate is expected to vote within the next few days on legislation that could ultimately cost Christians their freedom to share their biblical beliefs on homosexuality.
I realize that I asked for your help already this week to help restore the’s authority to clean up indecency on broadcast television, but I believe this bill on “hate crimes” poses such a threat that it also warrants your attention and action.
On Wednesday, Sens.(D-MA) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) filed a hate crimes bill—officially titled the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (S. 1105)—as an amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill, which is currently being debated by the Senate. The vote could occur anytime.
S. 1105 would establish a new federal offense for so-called “hate crimes” and add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes, as well as mandate a separate federal criminal prosecution for state offenses for crimes motivated by “the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person.”
In essence, it would codify into federal law that certain lifestyles, in this case homosexuality, deserve greater protection under the law than others. This is a clear violation of the 14th Amendment, which provides equal protection under the law.
Better termed “thought crimes” legislation, it could result in law enforcement officials policing perceived thoughts that motivate violent actions against homosexuals, as well as speech that conveys a negative message about homosexual behavior, even if no violent action follows.
This is not a far-fetched understanding of the potential danger of this legislation., for example, used its hate crimes law to imprison Pastor Ake Green for 30 days for preaching in his own church pulpit a grace-filled message on homosexuality taken from the Old and New Testaments. Other instances of policing thoughts and speech have occurred in nations like , Britain, and . Closer to home, police used a hate crimes law to arrest 11 Christians in 2005 for urging people at a gay pride festival to turn from their behavior.
The truth is all violent crimes are hate crimes and are already prosecuted to the full extent of the law. S. 1105 is unnecessary and unconstitutional. Law enforcement officials should continue to prosecute actions, not thoughts or speech.
If you are concerned that hate crimes legislation would violate equal protections under the law and could lead to criminalizing Christians’ thoughts and speech against homosexuality, please contact your senators and tell them to vote “No” on S. 1105, the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
You can call your senators by dialing the Capitol switchboard at click here, enter your zip code in the space provided, and email them the suggested letter or one entirely your own.. The operator will then connect you to the senator’s office of your choice. If you do not know who your senators are, or if you would prefer to use email, just
The House already passed a similar version of the hate crimes bill in May, so it is extremely important that your senators hear from you.
For more information hate crimes legislation:
Please know that I am very grateful for your efforts to help stop this dangerous hate crimes legislation from becoming the law of the land and jeopardizing Christians’ ability to freely share their biblical convictions on homosexuality.”
In His Service,
Dr. Richard Land