Baptist Press reports:
The U.S. Senate passed legislation July 16 to expand hate crimes protections to include homosexuals and transgendered people.Read the entire article HERE.
The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act gained approval as an amendment to a Department of Defense authorization bill, which is expected to be voted on the week of July 20-24. The amendment would add "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the current categories -- such as religion and national origin -- protected from hate crimes. "Sexual orientation" includes homosexuality and bisexuality, while "gender identity," or transgendered status, takes in transsexuals and cross-dressers...
The House of Representatives passed a similar measure -- the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, H.R. 1913 -- with a 249-175 vote in late April.
The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and others oppose such efforts to expand hate crimes protection based not only on their inclusion of categories defined by sexual behavior or identity but also concerns about the potential impact on religious freedom.
They fear the measure, combined with existing law, could expose to prosecution Christians and others who proclaim the Bible's teaching that homosexual behavior and other sexual relations outside marriage are sinful. For example, if a person commits a violent act based on a victim's "sexual orientation" after hearing biblical teaching on the sinfulness of homosexual behavior, the preacher or teacher could be open to a charge of inducing the person to commit the crime, some foes say.
I wonder about the consequences of tyring to legislate thoughts and motives. The irony of naming hate crimes legislation after Matthew Shepherd is that his murderers were sentenced to the fullest extent of the law and rightfully so. But this happened without the help of hate crimes laws. Shouldn't it be enough to denounce murder equally, regardless of the status or behavior of the victim? I am concerned by laws that communicate that it is worse to murder someone because you hate homosexuals than it is to murder someone simply because you are evil.
Anyway, Canada and Scandanavia have attacked free speech through hate crimes legislation and preachers have been put on notice - don't preach against homosexuality.
Of course, in His good providence God may well be moving His people in America into a time of testing. We certainly know that God has and does use the persecution of the state to purify and strengthen His church. We certainly do not know what persecution is in this country. Perhaps in our lifetime we will.