'Hate Crime' Bill's Protection of Homosexuals May Restrict Religious Freedom

( [email protected] ) Jun 16, 2004 10:51 PM EDT

An amendment intended to address hate crimes may even be used to target Christians for reading the Bible, according to experts who are lobbying against it. On June 15, the Senate agreed to give homosexuals protection under the federal hate crime law proposed by Senator Ted Kennedy and Gordan Smith, which still needs to pass the House of Representatives.

"The passage yesterday in the Senate of the Kennedy/Smith hate crimes amendment as part of the defense spending bill, is a blueprint for tyranny," said Traditional Values Coalition Executive Director Andrea Lafferty in a statement on June 16.

A Senate committee report a year ago noted that any interracial crime with minority victims automatically would be considered a “hate crime” as would every crime where a victim is a transsexual, transvestite, disabled, homosexual, or known member of a religion.

According to Rev. Louis Sheldon, president of Traditional Values Coalition, the report suggested that “someone who mugs your grandmother will not be prosecuted as vigorously as someone who commits the same crime against a homosexual.”

Lafferty said that both are criminal acts and both are hateful and should not receive different treatment.

“Inevitably,” the report said. “a ‘hate crime’ law such as this one will be used to attack traditional religious faiths and groups who promote tolerance of all peoples but not acceptance of conduct traditionally regarded as sinful.”

Robert Knight, who is director of the Culture and Family Institute, said, “Using similar laws, the mere criticism of homosexuality is considered a ‘hate crime’ in Sweden and Canada."

“The idea of a ‘hate crime’ is completely contrary to the American principles of free speech and equal protection under the law," he continued. "Any senator who voted for this is setting up our children and grandchildren for persecution as activist courts rule that Biblical morality is 'bigotry'."

Congressman are expected to vote on the bill when their recess ends after July 4.

"We plan on fighting against this unneeded and dangerous threat to freedom of religion and speech," said Lafferty. "And, we will be alerting the 43,000 churches who are part of our coalition about this pro-homosexual amendment and its effect on religious freedom."