Friday, May 11, 2007

Christians urged to voice opposition to 'hate crimes' legislation on Tuesday

Christians urged to voice opposition to 'hate crimes' legislation on Tuesday

Allie Martin and Jody Brown
May 11, 2007

An evangelistic ministry known as Repent America is asking Christians to flood Capitol Hill with emails, phone calls, and faxes next Tuesday in a national effort to petition lawmakers about the dangers of the recently approved "hate crimes" bill. The legislation is expected to be voted on in the Senate by the end of next week and would provide grants to state and local jurisdictions to enforce their hate-crime laws.

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Pro-family groups fear that the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 (HR 1592) -- approved by the U.S. House on May 3 -- is the first step toward government regulation of attitudes and beliefs. Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, for example, has stated that the true intent of the legislation is "to muzzle people of faith who dare to express their moral and biblical concerns about homosexuality." And reading the Bible in a certain way, he added, may make one "guilty of committing a 'thought crime.'"

In addition, Bishop Harry Jackson with the High Impact Leadership Coalition has described HR 1592 as "indefinable, constitutionally suspect, unfair, un-American, and ultimately unnecessary." Should it become law, he says, it would "muzzle the mouths and stop the voice of the black church."

Michael Marcavage, president of Repent America, is encouraging concerned Christians to let their voices be heard next Tuesday when they contact their senators about the Senate version of hate-crimes legislation. That bill, S. 1105, is sponsored by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts).

"There's no question about it that these types of laws and the agenda behind them is to ultimately end the First Amendment rights of the American people," says the ministry leader, "and we cannot stand for that."

He urges on his group's website that "together, as one loud voice, we must urge our lawmakers to vote against the legislation that seeks to silence us."

Marcavage is convinced that hate crimes bills would eventually be used to silence Christians. In October 2004, he was one of 11 Christians arrested while street witnessing during a taxpayer-funded homosexual rights rally in Philadelphia and then jailed. The believers were all charged under Pennsylvania's hate crimes law. All charges were eventually dismissed -- otherwise, each would have faced up to 47 years in prison and $90,000 in fines.

The White House has indicated it will veto HR 1592 should it be passed out of Congress.



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