Hate Crimes goes to a vote today

By July 16, 2009

USA (MNN) — The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on legislation Thursday that could pave the way for religious persecution., according to Focus on the Family.

The "hate-crimes" bill, being considered as an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill, would create a new class of crimes based on a victim's "actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity." And, pastors who preach against homosexuality could end up prosecuted if they are found to have "induced" a hate-crime against a self-identified homosexual by preaching from the Bible.

Ashley Horne, federal issues analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said similar laws have been used to prosecute religious speech in the U.S. at the state level and abroad.

"Gay activists have and will continue to use these kinds of laws to silence Christians who speak publicly about God's design for human sexuality – and make them pay if they stand up for their beliefs," she said.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said he plans to offer the legislation "to address the serious and growing problem of hate crimes." But Horne said Leahy doesn't have accurate information.

"The latest numbers from the FBI from 2007 show us there's no dramatic increase in hate crimes across the country – and, specifically, no dramatic increase over the years in sexual-orientation hate crimes, either in raw numbers or percentages," Horne said. "So, this bill is a solution looking for a problem."

International Christian Concern's Jeff King says Christians need to DO something. "We need to stand up; we need to get on the phone, and we need to write letters. You can go to Senate.gov, find your senator, and write him or her. You can also call them and let them know in no uncertain terms what you think of this bill and emphasize that they need to reject it. They need to vote against it or you will not deliver a vote to them the next time [they're up for re-election].

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., sent a letter to key leaders in the religious community asking them to oppose the bill.

"Please tell your congregation this legislation is not about 'hate'
(all violent crimes are hateful); it is about taking away your freedom
to speak and preach biblical truth," DeMint wrote. "It will take away
your right to say that some things are wrong. We need millions of
Americans to call and e-mail their Senators–especially Democrat
Senators who are pushing this legislation."

Prayer is certainly an important aspect of this process. After you call or write your senator, please remember to pray.

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