Unnecessary and Un-Democratic

Before Congress adjourns in early October, a House- Senate conference committee will be considering expanding federal hate-crimes legislation. Many commentators have properly criticized this bill as being unnecessary. But it's much more than that -- it's a frontal attack on the free exercise of religion. Federal hate-crimes legislation authorizes federal prosecutions in cases where bias towards the victim is considered to have led to the attack. Present federal law only covers bias towards a person's race, color or creed. The pending legislation would add the categories of gender, disability, and sexual orientation. This legislation is unnecessary. Does anyone seriously believe that we need the FBI and the Department of Justice to make sure homosexual victims of violence receive justice? Think back to high- profile cases like the murder of Matthew Shepard in October 1998. The killers, prosecuted by the state, are now serving life sentences without parole. What more could a federal prosecutor do? Federal involvement is just posturing and window dressing. Do the proponents of this bill really believe that the FBI should investigate every bar fight where a derogatory word for homosexuals is used -- taking resources away from combating terrorism, espionage, and organized crime? Maybe they're planning on assigning the forensics experts at Quantico to analyze anti-gay graffiti. Since there's no evidence that local law enforcement is dropping the ball in these kind of cases, we can only assume the real goal is to make a political statement. So if the legislation is unnecessary, why are its proponents pushing so hard? It's obviously because this new law is part of a much grander strategy to change the way Americans think about homosexual behavior. Stated simply, the goal is to get Americans to think about the subject in anything but moral terms. We're supposed to think homosexual behavior is another lifestyle choice -- or, biologically determined. What we're not supposed to do is think about homosexual acts in terms of right and wrong. But no matter how hard the proponents of this legislation try, some people -- those who believe in the Bible -- will persist in doing just that. So, these people's beliefs must be rendered beyond the limits of civilized discourse. They must be seen as equivalent to racism. And that's what's going on here. Expanding hate- crimes laws to include "sexual orientation" sends the message that having moral reservations about homosexual behavior is like harboring prejudice toward African-Americans or the disabled. With the stroke of a pen, a belief held by millions of honest Americans will be transformed into an irrational prejudice that must be eradicated. Mind you, Bible-believing Christians aren't talking about having homosexual acts outlawed. We're simply saying, "don't outlaw our right to disapprove, and don't punish us for our beliefs." If religious liberty means anything, it means that government shouldn't be able to outlaw well-established moral views based on religious beliefs. Your representatives probably aren't thinking in those terms. And that's why they need to hear from you. Tell them to stop the assault on religious liberty and freedom of conscience. And remind them that trying to protect one set of Americans by trampling the fundamental rights of others is not the American way to do things.


Chuck Colson


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