More Pastors ‘Parish’ the Thought of Hate Crimes

From the Family Research Council.

“In Tennessee, Rep. Steve Cohen (D) is finding out the hard way that pastors aren’t buying the liberal line on H.R. 1592, the federal “hate crimes” bill. A growing number of ministers are sensing that the wave of support for applying “hate crimes” to sexual orientation spells trouble for religious leaders and their ability to speak freely from the pulpit. Although Cohen is doing his best to reassure Tennessee’s churches that they’ll be unaffected, the state’s faithful are challenging his vote in favor of the bill. Together with a powerful alliance of black and white pastors, congregations have ignited a firestorm across the Volunteer State that has resulted in a massive letter-writing and phone campaign. Cohen said his office fielded about 400 calls on the issue after local Memphis churches distributed thousands of fliers about where the bill could lead. Yesterday, the congressman proved the churches’ effectiveness by unleashing his anger on the House floor, accusing “right-wing, evangelical” groups of “misleading pastors.” His accusation missed the mark; it is Cohen and his liberal leadership that are misleading the American public. Both have said that the bill, which is still pending in the Senate, would not trample on Americans’ First Amendment rights. Pastors like Chester Berryhill know better, saying that he and his colleagues understand that the purpose of the bill is to silence moral opposition. “If you get up in a pulpit now, and if you say homosexuality is a sin, you have ‘attacked homosexuality.’ …We want absolutely no restrictions on what a preacher can preach…” We’re encouraged that these Tennessee pastors have taken such a principled stand and reached a level of engagement that FRC is working to help all states imitate. For more information on how your congregation can get involved, log on to and order our new DVD on the drive for sweeping “thought crimes” laws, “Censoring the Church and Silencing Christians.”


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