American presidential election could affect religious freedom

By November 3, 2008

USA (MNN) — It's being called an historic election. Americans will be heading to the polls tomorrow to choose their next president, as well as legislative leaders. According to Craig Parshall, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the National Religious Broadcasters Association, depending on who's elected, Christian radio and other religious freedom could be negatively affected.

He says the Democrats have gone on the record saying they wanted to reinstitute the fairness doctrine. The fairness doctrine was overturned in the 1980's because it limited free speech. Parshall says, "We think it would be a real travesty to Christian broadcasters because it would convert Christian broadcasting into anti-Christian broadcasting. Christian broadcasters would be required to air the opinions of atheists, members of major world religions, pro-abortion proponents, pro-homosexual activists and so forth."

NRB also opposes hate crimes legislation, which many of the democrats support. Parshall says it has very little to do with crime prevention and more to do with restricting free speech and religious freedom. He says the legislation protects the rights of gay activists and alternative religions other than Christianity.

"If Christians come out and speaks against Islam, if they feel harassed or intimidated or verbally attacked, they could actually go to the local federal prosecutor and have the speaker and those involved in the conference charged with hate crimes," Parshall says.

According to Parshall, if the democrats win the U.S. election, Christians are at risk under this legislation. "In every country in the world where hate crimes have been instituted, it has migrated very quickly into hate speech, suppression of speech, and the targets have usually been Christian evangelists and Christian preachers."

He says that has a direct affect on Christian radio and television. "There would be no question in my mind that federal prosecutors would be asked to prosecute those that make statements over the airwaves that may result in someone feeling harassed, intimidated or insulted."

Parshall says the candidates have two different views on the fairness doctrine. "Senator Barak Obama has indicated that he wants to mandate a creation of diverse viewpoints. In other words, he doesn't necessarily like the way the viewpoints are situated right now in the broadcast media. He wants to create different opinions by federal mandates. John McCain has come out and said he very much opposes fairness doctrine and anything that would mandate that kind of required diversity."

He says Republicans oppose hate crimes legislation, while the democrats have gone on the record supporting such measures.

While there are many other issues separating the candidates, says Parshall, "On these very essential ones affecting the Christian church and our freedom not only to broadcast, but to proclaim the whole truth of the whole Gospel to the whole culture, I think there's a very distinct difference between the two parties and the two candidates."

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