The Engage Family Blog

Official Blog of The Family Policy Council of West Virginia

S.B.909: Federal Hate Crimes Could Put Pastors, Christian Business Owners Under Arrest

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Have you ever considered the implications of a key word in S.B. 909, the federal hate crimes bill, being considered for approval right now? The word I am referring to is “perceived.”

The language of this bill would “allow federal prosecution of violence committed because of the actual or perceived gender, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity of the victim,” according to an article on the One News Now website.

Sure it sounds good to say that such a bill would ensure equality for all Americans and help to stop violence and discrimination. But is that what it would really do, or is there more to the story?

Andrea Lafferty, of the Traditional Values Coalition, was present when Attorney General Eric Holder was questioned about the need for a bill like S.B. 909. She said, “The attorney general failed to adequately explain why the bill is necessary. He was repeatedly asked about the need for…could he tell the senators where there was a failure among state and local officials in prosecuting hate crimes. Where was the epidemic? Where was the problem? Which states were systematically ignoring this problem? And he couldn’t answer that…”

Now generally speaking, if you are going to stand before a government committee and vouch for the absolute need of a particular bill’s passage into law, you will make sure you can answer any and all questions that are thrown at you. Particularly the easy ones like, “Why do we need this?” And yet Holder could not answer these questions.

 Ashley Horne, federal policy analyst at Focus on the Family Action seems to have a fairly logical answer to the questions Mr. Holder could not answer. She said, “There is no evidence of an epidemic of sexual-orientation ‘hate crimes’ in this country. So, what’s the real reason for this bill? Gay activists want to silence those who speak out against homosexuality.”

If you don’t believe that this is a possibility, consider what happened to Elaine Huguenin of Albuquerque, New Mexico when she, as the owner of a private photography business, declined to do the commitment ceremony of a lesbian couple, citing her religious beliefs. No one doubts that a homosexual would be allowed to decline to do business for a Christian event, and yet when the shoe is on the other foot lawsuits seem to run amok.

Many legal experts say that S.B. 909, if allowed to become law, has damaging implications for many freedoms, in particular is the freedom of religion. Alan Sears, writing for the Alliance Defense Fund commented,

“If S.B. 909 becomes law, ADF attorneys and many legal scholars say it could seriously curtail our constitutional rights to freedom of religion and freedom of expression – while creating unique legal protections for those engaged in homosexual behavior.”

And here is where the reality of the hate-crimes bill gets shockingly dangerous for many peaceful people. Listen to the words of ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot,

All violent crimes are hate crimes, and all crime victims deserve equal justice. So-called ‘hate crime’ laws actually serve only one purpose: The criminalization of citizens based on whatever thoughts, beliefs, and emotions they have that are not considered to be ‘politically correct.’ No one should fall for the idea that this bill does anything to bring about greater justice for Americans.”

Anytime you begin making laws underscored by perceptions and thoughts a dangerous game based on “political correctness” ensues. The only ones that lose are those that believe in the freedoms America was founded on. The freedom to have an independent thought and share it; the freedom to agree to disagree, peacefully; the freedom to be an independent mind capable of making a decision by oneself. But a bill like S.B. 909 would seek to stifle these freedoms we hold so dearly. Let the reality of these words sink in, and take action before it is too late.

“The reality is that ‘hate crime’ laws are designed to punish people for what they think, feel, or believe.”
                                                                                                                – ADF Letter to the House Judiciary Committee

Use this link: Contact Your Senators to ask your Senators to oppose S.B. 909.

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