In this age of politically-correct reasoning, it has become fashionable to support hate crimes legislation because--on the surface--such laws would help to curtail violent crimes against targeted minorities. However, as with most issues, one must look below the surface of hate crimes laws to distinguish what is the ultimate consequence of their passage. I believe that those individuals who brutalize, vandalize or kill - for whatever reasons - should be swiftly punished to the fullest extent of the law. But politicizing such individuals' actions, in my opinion, is dangerous and reckless. In fact, the ultimate victims of hate crimes laws will be religious conservatives who embrace the Bible as their ultimate authority. We need look no further than Canada to understand how hate crimes have created an environment that is hostile to Christians.

My Old Time Gospel Hour broadcast has aired weekly in Canada for thirty years. However, today I cannot air the same broadcast there that is utilized here in the U.S. In the Canadian broadcast, I cannot mention anything regarding homosexuality or partial-birth abortion because the government there has enacted far-reaching laws that prevent any criticism of those issues. Even though the Bible is very clear on the sanctity of human life and presents a clear design for sexual morality, the Canadian government shuns those biblical tenets because they are offensive to protected classes of individuals.

Christian organizations are facing severe legal threats in Canada. As a prime example, a private Christian school in Canada is currently involved in a legal showdown because it upholds biblical guidelines of behavior for its students. The observance of these biblical values has led to the legal confrontation between Trinity Western University and the British Columbia College of Teachers. The College, which sets professional standards for public school teachers, has balked at certifying the teaching program at Trinity simply because the university's code of conduct forbids homosexual activity. The College of Teachers ruled that the code will produce teachers who are likely to discriminate against homosexual students. This is nothing but double-speak--with no legal precedent--that is designed to malign Christians.

On the other hand, a Canadian school board is presently being coerced to include three books with same-sex characters into the school library. While a few American schools have chosen to utilize similar books, the difference is that, in Canada, the British Columbia Supreme Court overturned the Surrey School Board's ban on the books (although the Court of Appeal later upheld an appeal by the board). The Court of Appeal ruled that teachers may voluntarily use books dealing with same-sex families in the classroom.

Attorney Gwen Brodsky, who represents EGALE (Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere), a Canadian homosexual-rights organization, said, "In fact, the Court of Appeal makes it clear that school boards have a positive duty to espouse the values in the Constitution, including the constitutional principle of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation. Under the terms of this ruling, the Surrey School Board is not permitted to interfere with the professional judgment of teachers who choose to use the books in the classroom to teach about the diversity of Canadian family life."

Ultimately, EGALE wants all schools to be required to maintain the books. Christians in America should learn an important lesson from our northern neighbors. Politicians there--many with good intentions--have created an environment that is antagonistic toward those who choose to recognize God's laws. And I see our nation following in this same perilous path.

Already in our nation, the Boy Scouts of America have faced the wrath of homosexual-rights groups who oppose the group's morality requirement for leaders--a provision that prohibits homosexual behavior. Homosexual leaders charge that such a morality clause is motivated by "hate." Last week, a Manhattan school district barred schools from sponsoring Boy Scout troops because the organization excludes homosexuals. There is potential for this resolution to be adopted statewide. The Boy Scouts continue to be targeted by homosexuals and leftist social engineers solely because the organization attempts to create a moral and principled environment for young boys to learn to be upright future leaders.

Those who adhere to Judeo-Christian standards of living are being portrayed as hate-filled bigoted villains who need to have their thoughts, their speech, their beliefs and their actions regulated by the government.

As his presidential tenure comes to a close, Bill Clinton is sternly pressuring Congress to enact new hate crime legislation in our nation, specifically the so-called Hate Crimes Protection Act. I pray that he fails--not because I embrace hate-motivated crimes, but because the laws camouflage a dangerous political effort that could ultimately silence millions of Americans.

Timothy J. Dailey of the Family Research Council said that such hate crimes laws would have "a chilling effect" on free speech by making currently unpopular ideas a basis for harsher treatment of criminal proceedings.

"Opponents frequently assert that federal 'hate crime' legislation such as HCPA would prohibit only acts of violence, not speech," he said. "However, HCPA would incorporate current federal law, which already specifically includes speech, making it unlawful to injure, intimidate, or interfere with any person because of his or her 'race, color, religion, or national origin.'"

Mr. Dailey noted that the Hate Crimes Reporting Act of 1990 mandated that the FBI include "intimidation."

"Nearly half of the 'hate crimes' in the 1997 FBI statistics are in this category," he stated. "Passage of HCPA would make name-calling literally a federal offense."

Under this law, a minister who preached from Romans Chapter 1--a chapter that expressly forbids the practice of homosexuality--could be slapped with a hate crimes offense.

That is why Christians need to beware of such laws.

A nation with such a splendid history of political debate and social deliberation should not be in the business of silencing the views, opinions--and even words--of a vast segment of the population simply because that group espouses contrary beliefs. In this regard, hate crimes laws are not only dangerous, they are downright un- American.

more from beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad