Preaching From The Bible Could Land You in Prison Hate Crimes Bill Primed For House DebateMessage 1 of 1 , Apr 27, 2009View Source
Preaching From The Bible
Could Land You in Prison
Hate Crimes Bill Primed For House Debate
By JOHN P. CONNOLLY, The Bulletin
Monday, April 27, 2009
A federal bill that would amend the hate crimes law to include crimes against people due to their sexual orientation, was approved late last week by the House Judiciary Committee, clearing the way for the bill’s consideration by the full House of Representatives.
The bill, also known as the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, passed the Judiciary Committee by a vote of 15-12. The bill is similar to one that was passed by the House two years ago and has received criticism from those concerned that the legislation could be used to persecute Christians who do not approve of homosexual practices.
The Judiciary Committee rejected a number of amendments offered by several congressman seeking to protect religious liberty, to protect the unborn, to protect against violence by illegal aliens and to clarify the bill’s meanings of “gender identity” and “sexual orientation.” One of the rejected amendments, offered by Congressman Gohmert of Texas , sought to ensure that ministers could not be prosecuted for abetting a hate crime simply because they preach from the Bible.
“The federal hate crimes bill is bad news for everyone,” said Pacific Justice Institute President Brad Dacus, who testified against the bill two years ago. “Instead of treating all crime victims equally, it creates a caste system where select groups, such as gays and lesbians, are given greater priority in the criminal justice system.
“This is not progress; it is political correctness. In other nations and states, the adoption of hate crimes legislation has been the first step toward widespread suppression of speech and ideas critical of homosexuality.”
If the bill were passed, it would allow the federal government to intervene in state and local cases and prosecute criminals under federal law with harsher penalties. Crimes using a gun, a bomb or fire that are motivated by gender or sexual orientation could incur a fine and up to 10 years in prison. Offenses such as kidnapping and murder would be punished with life imprisonment.
The House could debate the bill as early as this week, and President Barack Obama is expected to sign the measure if it reaches his desk.
John P. Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@...
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