CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

The Trouble With Hate Crime Legislation

May 2, 2007

As has already happened in Western Europe and Canada, and some American states, the US as a nation is now on the verge of passing “hate-crime” legislation. The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act is set to be voted on in the US House of Reps this week. If passed, it will be bad news for many, especially biblical Christians.

For example, the bill would make crimes committed against homosexuals to be more serious than crimes committed against other people. It would force courts and judges to look not only at the crime, but who it was committed against and why. Since many groups, including Jews, Muslim and Christians, find the homosexual lifestyle to be against their religious beliefs, they will especially be the target of this new law.

The real purpose of such a law is to increase punishment for the thoughts a person may have had while committing a crime. This means such a law is really a thought crimes law. But to increase the punishment for a criminal’s thoughts is really a form of totalitarian thought control. Homosexual activists will list as “hateful,” the sincere religious convictions and Bible-based moral values such as opposition to homosexual behaviour. This is just the beginning of a new wave of anti-Christian bigotry.

Janet Folger, President of Faith2Action, has declared, “This is the most dangerous bill in America”. She warned: “The bottom line is: all crimes are ‘hate crimes’ – not just those against an ‘elite group.’ Here’s an idea – how about we punish actions instead of alleged ‘thoughts?’ And how about we punish them equally no matter who is victimized? Equal justice. What a concept. How hateful and mean spirited – I know.”

She continues, “But it’s not about ‘crime,’ it’s about speech. State ‘Hate Grandma’ legislation has actually thrown grandmas in jail for the ‘crime’ of sharing the Gospel on the public sidewalk in Philadelphia. Meet Arlene Elshinnaway. She told people that God loves them. But the 75-year-old grandma must have been pretty intimidating because they hauled her off to jail.”

James Dobson said this bill “could silence and punish Christians for their moral beliefs.  That means that as a Christian – if you read the Bible a certain way with regard to morality – you may be guilty of committing a ‘thought crime’.”

Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family contrasted the hate-crimes measure with the shooting last month at Virginia Tech: “The man who murdered 32 people said in his diatribe he was angry at ‘rich kids.’ And that is not a hate crime under the language of this law. Had he killed transgender people – that would have brought the federal government into it as a violation of the hate-crime law.”

Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, a ministry to people who are not happy with their same-sex attraction, said he and the people he counsels illustrate the inequity: “This legislation says that we – as former homosexuals – are of less value and worth less legal protection now than when we were living as homosexuals.”

Chuck Colson is also greatly concerned about this legislation. Writing in the May 1, 2007 Breakpoint commentary, he says, “In George Orwell’s classic novel 1984, the government Thought Police constantly spies on citizens to make sure they are not thinking rebellious thoughts. Thought crimes are severely punished by Big Brother. 1984 was intended as a warning against totalitarian governments that enslave and control their citizens. Never have we needed this warning more urgently than now, because America’s Thought Police are knocking on your door.”

He continues, “Some say we need this law to prevent attacks on homosexuals. But we already have laws against assaults on people and property. Moreover, according to the FBI, crimes against homosexuals in the United States have dropped dramatically in recent years. In 2005, out of 863,000 cases of aggravated assault, just 177 cases were crimes of bias against homosexuals – far less than even 1 percent.”

Hate crimes elsewhere have really been attacks on freedom of speech – especially Christian speech. “Another problem is that in places where hate crimes laws have been passed, hate crimes have been defined to include verbal attacks – and even peaceful speech. The Thought Police have already prosecuted Christians under hate crimes laws in England, Sweden, Canada, and even in some places in the United States.”

The threat of all this is very real. “If this dangerous law passes, pastors who preach sermons giving the biblical view of homosexuality could be prosecuted. Christian businessmen who refuse to print pro-gay literature could be prosecuted. Groups like Exodus International, which offer therapy to those with unwanted same-sex attraction, could be shut down. In classic 1984 fashion, peaceful speech will be redefined as a violent attack worthy of punishment.”

Concludes Colson: “Clearly, the intent of this law is not to prevent crime, but to shut down freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of thought. Its passage would strike at the very heart of our democracy.”

Exactly. And Australia is not immune. Most know about Victoria’s hate crime legislation which has resulted in two Christian pastors wasting 5 years of their lives and over a half million dollars defending themselves from this outrageous legislation.

And if Labor wins the Federal election later this year, there will be more such legislation on the federal level. Indeed, in 2003 the then Federal Shadow Attorney General Robert McClelland (Labor) introduced a Racial and Religious Hatred Bill. And in 2004 Nicola Roxon, who took over that role, suggested the same. Thus we need to continue to sound the alarm about these totalitarian hate crime laws, before we all end up as political prisoners.

www.breakpoint.org/listingarticle.asp?ID=6440

[944 words]

12 Responses to The Trouble With Hate Crime Legislation

  • This is a very important article.

    In fact, hate-crime laws does nothing to generate a more tolerant society. To the contrary, they promote a more litigious society and can easily be used as a powerful weapon by radical groups that wish to silence any criticism of their beliefs.

    Such laws are a major threat against democracy and the rule of law as they can be considered a permanent invitation to intolerant individuals with extreme views to avoid any debate by claiming that they, rather than their ideas, have been attacked.

    Augusto Zimmermann

  • As Bill says, this is a prime of example of the thought police in action. Not only that, but the decision of the arrester, prosecutor and judge can be completely arbitrary as the original law HR254 was open to subjective interpretation. In other words, someone could hear what you had to say and decide that it was ‘hate speech’ and report it to the police who agree, whether or not you intended it as hate speech. I’m assuming that, faced with these draconian punishments, they think that Christians will comply and be silent, but will they? Christians are commanded to speak about their faith in the Bible and this means saying things that people don’t want to hear sometimes, especially when juxtaposed against the prevailing moral zeitgeist. In its full-blown state, this law could result in the incarceration of thousands of Christians as Christianity is a dynamic religion and far from politically correct. The implications keep mushrooming when you think about it. The law is ludicrous but they’re certainly in earnest about it as it is being pushed globally and they are not giving up.
    Dee Graf

  • Once again we see an example of the tail wagging the dog. What causes real concern for us in Australia is that we are also becoming overrun with legislation to appease the militant lobby of minority groups.

    Say what you want about a Christian and it is expressing your freedom of thought and speech. Stand for Biblical values on homosexuality, abortion and the family, and you are commiting an intolerant hate-crime. Something does not compute.

    Luke Beattie

  • This is a troubling and disturbing issue. The Bible states that believers of Jesus Christ will be persecuted. That is exactly what is coming to pass.
    We need to take heed to these warnings and be prepared for what we may face in the future.
    We now have the gift of freedom of speech, but some are trying to take it away. We must be vigilant.
    Fivos Panayiotou

  • Sharia by stealth!
    John Nelson

  • Bill

    I fully agree with your article. It is so important that we act now to influence the governments on this, before it is too late and speaking truth can be punishable.

    Janneka Beeksma

  • >>Stand for Biblical values on homosexuality, abortion and the family, and you are committing an intolerant hate-crime.

    Why do Christians always dress up their bigotry as “Christian Values? In which verse of the bible does Jesus declare that Homosexuality is a sin?

    James Beattie

  • Thanks James

    Why do secular humanists always dress up their bigotry as “Humanist Values”? In which verse of the bible does Jesus declare that arson or environmental exploitation is a sin?

    I am afraid that arguing from silence is always a foolish and weak effort. So too is name-calling.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Jesus did not preach that homosexuality was a sin and that his followers should persecute homosexuals. This kind of vilification stands in stark contrast to the notions of love, peace and forgiveness that he did speak of.
    James Beattie

  • Thanks James

    Jesus also did not speak out against rape, arson or polygamy. Arguing from silence is pretty childish. While we must treat all people with respect, we have no obligation whatsoever – either as Christians or non-Christians – to support, embrace or encourage lifestyles which are dangerous and not in the public interest.

    And you seem happy to play the game of selective citing of Scripture (or at least Scriptural themes) when it suits your interests, while ignoring those that you find unacceptable. Sorry, but it does not work that way.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill I agree with what you say about speaking up. Its important that we speak up, and not remain silent. There are many hate crimes laws which war against freedom of speech, pushing various minority groups like the homosexual lobby. They will recieve favours in their court cases, while the majority are punished. Its immoral and wrong. Australia is not immune. Let us pray that good and honest decisions prevails.
    Fivos Panayiotou

  • Hate crimes proponents lack fundamental comprehension that someone’s expression of belief or opinion – and their presumption that freedom of speech is an accusation that an ‘objective fact’ somehow has become ’subjective’ – a fantasy of the mind! Merely stating what is, is – does not quantify beyond stating a self evident fact is fact! Ones judgment does not entail HATRED – and if so…Where is the slander? What is, is! Now to divorce a person’s freedom from verbalizing a fact is to say: That cat is calico; but it’s a crime to say it’s a cat! One may not enjoy the company of so many colors! In fact, the accuser is – in reality, the ‘true’ hate crime creator – he hates truth! He hates freedom of expression! He loves his self proclaimed ‘perfection.’ and has a Hitler mentality! All those who uphold such fraud on the spirit and constitution are -including lawyers- enemies of this great country.
    Ernest “Hunter” Whaley, Wells, Michigan, USA

Leave a Reply