Hate Crimes Bills: Threat to the Pulpit

An excellent commentary on the dangers of the Hate Crimes Bill by Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

“The Congress and Senate are trying strip the nation of religious freedom and the ability to preach the gospel from our church pulpits. The Hate Crimes Prevention bills, which are currently being put forth, can be used in the future to censor the church and its ministers. I called a press conference to enable pastors (the majority of which were black) to take a stand on this issue. Excerpts from my address follow:

 

Dear Friends, Clergy, Congressmen, and Press

 

We oppose HR 1592 “Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention ACT of 2007.” Our position is that this legislation is indefinable, constitutionally suspect, unfair, un-American, and unnecessary.

 

I represent clergymen and people of faith from the Christian community who are making a stand for religious liberty. We have called this meeting to announce a major national campaign to protect the right of the Christian church to preach the gospel.

 

This law is unnecessary because there is already existing legislation in every state that deals with this issue. The Hate Crimes Prevention bills will grant protected status to “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”

 

Similar laws have are being enforced around the world with an anti-Christian bias. Although the proponents of the bill solemnly declare that Bible believing churches are not its target, I will mention several noticeable cases.

 

§       In Sweden, Pastor Ake Green was indicted, convicted and sentenced to 30 days because of a hate crime violation. Pastor Greens simply read from the Bible and gave the Bible’s view on homosexual practices at his Borgholm, Sweden church. No riots were incited or accounts of personal brutality towards gays occurred after his statements.

 

§       In Australia, two evangelical pastors were charged with violating the state of Victoria’s “hate crimes” laws last year for criticizing Islam. This “offence” took place as part of a Christian conference. The judge, contrary to logic, ruled that the pastors had incited “hatred and fear” against Muslims.

 

§       In Canada, a Catholic city councilor was fined $1,000 for simply restating the church’s teaching on homosexuality. He publicly stated that a gay couple’s lifestyle was “not normal and not natural.”

 

As I think about the concepts of hate crime legislation in the past, I think about a judicial system that refused to give blacks equal justice under the law. Additional legislation would have never been necessary if the existing laws of the land had been enforced fairly.

 

In contrast, gays and other groups have emerged as a formidable force in the legal arena. Courts are often extremely deferential to their cases. In addition, the threat of invasive, governmental interference with the doctrines and practice of the church is a major concern. The same groups that want to remove crosses and the commandments from every public facility would undoubtedly rejoice if their influence could also be felt within the four walls of the church as well.

 

This legislation has the potential to criminalize the caring attempts of black clergy to maintain the tension of preaching clear traditional doctrine while reaching out to people in need of love and direction.

 

Isn’t freedom of speech a major value of our nation? Do we want an America in which no one can express their true religious views?”

 

Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr. is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition; and is senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in College Park, Md., a suburb of our nation’s capital. He has a vital teaching ministry via radio and television both in the U.S. and abroad.

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