Hate Crimes, The Thought Police, and Religious Freedom

By Richard Land
May 9, 2007

The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (H.R. 1592), which passed in the House of Representatives in a veto-susceptible vote of 237-180, could well lead to serious infringements of our First Amendment freedom of speech protections in the United States. Such legislation has had a very chilling effect on free speech in Canada, Scandinavia and other parts of Europe.

The act would establish a new federal offense for so-called “hate crimes” and add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes, as well as mandate a separate federal criminal prosecution for state offenses for crimes motivated by “the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person.”

In essence, it would codify into federal law that certain types of people—homosexuals and “transgenders,” for example—deserve greater protection under the law than others.

It’s worth noting in this bill that discrimination on the basis of sex will become discrimination on the basis of “gender.” But that’s a whole different story.

We should not condone any act of violence against person or property—incidental or major—for any reason. There is no place for crimes of violence against homosexuals in America.

It is not new news that speech that leads to violent behavior can be penalized. In Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), the Supreme Court said that the “constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press” prevent the state from forbidding speech unless it is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”

And it is not novel that one’s speech prior to the commission of a crime can be used to determine the intent behind the criminal act.

From Wisconsin v. Mitchell (1993): “The First Amendment, moreover, does not prohibit the evidentiary use of speech to establish the elements of a crime or to prove motive or intent. Evidence of a defendant’s previous declarations or statements is commonly admitted in criminal trials subject to evidentiary rules dealing with relevancy, reliability, and the like.”

What is new with this bill is that is seems to draw a very dubious and dangerous line from the innocent free expression of religious beliefs to an act of violence against someone from a protected class.

Mike Pence, congressman from Indiana, said the legislation threatens to criminalize religious speech. Pence was rebuffed in his efforts to tighten the section of the bill that says “any expressive conduct” secured by the First Amendment would remain protected under this bill.

Pence’s amendment stated, “Nothing in this section limits the religious freedom of any person or group under the Constitution.”

Also, attempts to amend the bill to include policemen, members of the military, and pregnant women as a special class deserving protection under this act failed on party line votes.

It appears from the bill and from astonishing comments made during the April 25 Judiciary Committee hearing that a pastor who preaches against homosexuality could be charged with inciting a hate crime if one of his church members—sometime after hearing the pastor’s comments—commits a crime against a homosexual person.

Mr. Louis Gohmert (R-TX): Even with your amendment, you still have to go back to the “rule of evidence” at page 15 of the underlying bill. And it says that these things may not be introduced as substantive evidence at trial unless the evidence specifically relates to the offense. And if I understood the gentleman’s amendment—and I will put the question back to you—if a minister preaches that sexual relations outside of marriage of a man and woman is wrong, and somebody within that congregation goes out and does an act of violence, and that person says that that minister counseled or induced him through the sermon to commit that act, are you saying under your amendment that in no way could that ever be introduced against the minister?

Mr. Artur Davis (D-AL): No.

Chairman John Conyers (D-MI): The gentleman’s time has again expired.

Mr. Louis Gohmert (R-TX): And he answered no before the time ran out.

[Emphasis supplied.] Source, .PDF.

In addition to being a speech issue, it is also a federalism issue, in that H.R. 1592 would constitute a giant leap in the federalization of criminal law in the United States, which prior to this time has been left as much as possible to each respective state to administer, prosecute and adjudicate.

In United States v. Morrison (2000), the Supreme Court held that “the Constitution requires a distinction between what is truly national and what is truly local.”

Looking to the Fourteenth Amendment, the ruling went on to say: “Congress therefore may not regulate noneconomic, violent criminal conduct based solely on the conduct’s aggregate effect on interstate commerce.”

The court continued, there are “limitations on the manner in which Congress may attack discriminatory conduct;” further, “gender-motivated crimes of violence are not, in any sense, economic activity.”

There is no question that all violent crimes should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, regardless of the motivation—real or imagined—of the perpetrators that commit the crimes and regardless of the identity of the victims.

Yet a law won’t purge hate from the national conscience; only Christ can do that.

The greatest commandment, Jesus said, was that we should, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-40).

It is worth noting Jesus doesn’t describe our neighbor. He didn’t say he or she had to meet certain behavioral or moral guidelines, only that all our neighbors need to know God’s love as much as we do.

We should all strive for a just society that treats all victims as equally valuable and innocent in the law and perpetrators as equally culpable.

In the meantime, I’m grateful the President has indicated he will veto this Orwellian bill if it reaches his desk.

70 Comments

1 On May 9, 2007, at 4:14pm, dan valdes wrote:

Look, Fred Phelps and his band of hatemongers can picket on behalf of the Westboro Baptist Church and say “God Hates Fags” all they want.  THey will continue to enjoy this liberty.  They count the days that Matthew Shepard (they say) has been in hell.  They spout all kinds off vitriol and hatred towards the gay community and the US government.  How in the world can you take Mr. Land’s editorial seriously when it is evident per se that you have freedom of expression in this country to say gay people are less than.  Feel free to preach it until the second coming.  It’s your right to hate us.  It’s our right to stand up for ourselves.  I somehow doubt that Southern Baptists will be as nearly anti gay as the Westboro clan but you can be assured that you have all the liberty you want to try and keep putting us down.

2 On May 9, 2007, at 4:43pm, Rod Schull wrote:

This very poor legislation is another example of the ongoing destruction of our foundational Christian principles by anti-God, anti-American forces. Whereby legitimate concepts are newly, wrongfully defined, such as “hate crime”, to advance an unaccepted agenda through the legal system. Any crime against God and man, is hateful, primarily to God.So, “hate crime” is a redundant absurdity, aimed at advancing an unGodly agenda. The false concept of “transgender” is totally contrary to our foundational principles of Lord Jesus, whereby God created them male and female. Advancing this false concept is hateful to our God, who founded our one nation under God.Likewise, homosexuality is clearly contrary to the Word of the God of our founding, as stated in both His old and new testaments.  Sincrely, Rodney Schull

3 On May 9, 2007, at 6:09pm, dan valdes wrote:

“Also, attempts to amend the bill to include policemen, members of the military, and pregnant women as a special class deserving protection under this act failed on party line votes.”

Yes do tell WHAT party failed to add those individuals. 

Also if you preach to love your neighbor like you say above, then what culpability do you have if someone leaves a Baptist sermon and commits an act of violence based upon that sermon?  Again this is much ado about nothing other than fear that gay people are no longer going to succumb to your religious persecution.

4 On May 9, 2007, at 7:05pm, Todd wrote:

I just read the comment from dan.
Wow. As one who has been in the christian community for about 20 years, I don’t ever remember a feeling or comment that would indicate that we as christians “hate” or feel like someone who practices a homosexual lifestyle is “less than” anyone else. However we would like the option to be able to say “I as a business owner would rather not hire a particular person because of the influence they would bring with them is against my belief and what I intend to encourage others to follow.” Just because the lawmakers do not understand my convictions they should not ever make a law that would force me to choose between my conviction or breaking the law.
The practice of homosexuality is a sin (described by Yahwah/God Himself) and will separate you from Him.

5 On May 9, 2007, at 7:11pm, Rick Hudgins Jr. wrote:

Here’s something to consider:

It is unequivocally hypocritical to use phrases such as “Thought Police,” etc., when dealing with Hate Crimes Legislation. Our judicial system has traditionally used intent (which, necessarily implies thought) when weighing and doling out the consequences for various crimes committed. Hence the idea of “First Degree” Murder of “Second Degree Manslaughter”; these distinctions of intent are BASED in THOUGHT.

6 On May 9, 2007, at 7:38pm, Danny Stringer wrote:

The editorial is valid. Motivation is the key. Homosexuality is presented as unholy in order to rescue the individual from destruction. Many perceive the “bridge out” sign as hate speech; therefore, all warning signs must be removed. Warning signs are for safety.  The editorial is valid.

7 On May 10, 2007, at 12:19am, Dan Valdes wrote:

Todd you may not know of Fred Phelps but he is the infamous Kansas preacher that pickets the funerals of US solders because he feels our nation kowtows to gay people.  The ACLU has defended his right to freedom of expression.  My point is simply this, if this extreme church has the freedom to express his opinion on homosexuality, then I can’t see a more moderate, however, still anti-gay sentiment being censored by the government because of this bill.  The reality is simply that the Southern Baptists are concerned about gay people being “normalized” in the secular culture.  For reasons unknown to me, they would prefer we not have any recognition under the law.  They are threatened by that, apparently considerably.

8 On May 10, 2007, at 5:50am, Jonathan Erdman wrote:

You’re right on track Dr. Land.  The bottom line is that this legislation is an outright attack on a most basic, constitutional right - the freedom of speech.  Thinking back on the homosexual parade in Washington, DC in 1993.  There were some very passionate (even hateful) things chanted by the homosexuals against the state as well as the church (of course we never heard that part on the news).  Nonetheless, they had the right to say all those things just as anyone else has the right to speak out against homosexuality.  If this bill does bnecome law, then it would be an extremely unconstitutional one.

9 On May 10, 2007, at 4:02pm, Brad Hall wrote:

Can there really be some people who do not see the difference between protection for the way God made people (race, gender, color, disability) which cannot be changed and the actions of people that can change(sexual choices).  Sexuality is a behavior, not a disability, and should not be paraded before society like a separate race of people.  All citizens of the USA enjoy equal protection under law.  To say that those who believe a certain way (homosexual, transgender) are more important than those who believe another way seems to me like a government endorsement of a behavior.  To be “fair” why doesn’t this bill include heterosexuals, abstinate, and Christian married?  Some need to remember that evangelical Christians are real victims of hate speech and are martyred daily for their beliefs.

10 On May 10, 2007, at 5:40pm, dan valdes wrote:

To be “fair” why doesn’t this bill include heterosexuals, abstinate, and Christian married?

Dear Brad, IT DOES.  Sexual orientation includes you and everyone else.  We are already covered for religion under the current hate crimes laws.  People educate yourselves, don’t follow blindly.  Some in power elect to mislead those who don’t have their eyes open.

11 On May 10, 2007, at 9:43pm, David Binford wrote:

This country already affords each one that comes here legally the right to worship whom and how they wish, live in matramony in accordance with God’s Word or not, each person has the right to be who they choose to be provided that it does not interfere with the well being of another.  Once the well being of another is jeopardized then they have broken the law of the people.  If a “Christian” and I use that term loosely kills someone due to some religious belief then they are subject to the same laws and punishment of a “non-Christian” that kills someone.  That is as it should be!

12 On May 10, 2007, at 9:50pm, David Binford wrote:

As a follower of Jesus the Anointed One from God, I will not jepordize my relationship with Him based upon a teaching from some man.  My faith and beliefs are built upon the Word of God, and as a result I am to love everyone as I love myself.  Now, that does not mean that I condone or have to accept how they choose to live. 

However if I do not show the love of Christ to them then what hope do they have for an eternity with their creator and father God?  Christian means to be Christ like (Christ did nothing unless His father instructed Him to do it) and that is how those who say they are Christians should act or they should stop calling themselves a follower of Christ.

We have a free will to do, say, and act as we wish but that does not mean that how we do, say and act is as God would have us do it.

13 On May 10, 2007, at 10:11pm, David Binford wrote:

There is no need for special rights in this country!  Everyone already has equal rights, even if I don’t agree with how someone chooses to live within those rights, it is still there right to freedom and the pursuit of happiness.  All I can do is share The Way, The Truth and The Life with people and those that see and choose to follow Christ will see the Abundant life He gave His life for all of us to have!

Be Blessed!

14 On May 11, 2007, at 9:12am, George Cooksey wrote:

Congressman Ron Paul voted against this unlawful legislation.  You can read his own words here:

15 On May 11, 2007, at 3:37pm, Nicole Black wrote:

Brad Hall hit it right on the head.

16 On May 12, 2007, at 2:15am, Calvin Reynolds wrote:

As I study the uncompromising Word of God I find that the followers of Christ refused to be intimidated by the ungodly political leaders of their day even if it meant jail, stoning and yes, even crucifixion.  When are we as followers of Christ going to quit believing that the government is our savior. All scripture is true and is to be preached and taught lovingly but uncompromisingly.  Love your family and be ready to “go gallantly to the gallows” because you were faithful to your anointed calling.

17 On May 13, 2007, at 3:15am, steve wrote:

Nicole, what precisely did Brad “hit on the head”? Did you not read Dan’s post (10) in which he demonstrated quite clearly that Brad has no real idea as to what’s included in the legislation?

It’s been a real eye opener to me since I’ve been coming on to this site to see how SBC adherents have a tendency to totally ignore pertinent facts put forward by people with opposing views and just slip into ‘scratched record’ mode and parrot the words of their preacher leadership. WHY DO YOU RESIST THINKING FOR YOURSELVES!?

18 On May 14, 2007, at 6:11pm, Brother Charles wrote:

BUT know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:
2Ti 3:2   For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
2Ti 3:3   unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,
2Ti 3:4   traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
2Ti 3:5   having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

Is a gay or lesbian person who exhibits
“Fruit of the Spirit” any more condemned than say a heterosexual person who exhibits “NONE of the Spirits fruit?” You are all right and all wrong with the subject at hand…right to be disturbed by certain behaviours you see in others that God would be grieved by of - wrong in how you set about to address them.(cf. Galatians 6:1)

Love in Christ Jesus our Lord,
Bro. Charles

19 On May 14, 2007, at 7:04pm, Rick Hudgins Jr. wrote:

“As I study the uncompromising Word of God I find that the followers of Christ refused to be intimidated by the ungodly political leaders of their day even if it meant jail, stoning and yes, even crucifixion.”

-Just as a note of historical emphasis: crucifixion had been practiced a long time before the execution of Jesus of Nazareth. Crucifixion was one of the most often employed punishments for ***political***, not “theological” dissidents. It was, in fact, a rather common means of execution employed by the Roman Empire.

And, as another point of interest, I do love my ***family***, even if my definition of family doesn’t fit into some idealistic, black-and-white, “God-breathed” book. In short, my partner is my family.

20 On May 15, 2007, at 1:03am, steve wrote:

Calvin, you said: “All scripture is true and is to be preached and taught lovingly but uncompromisingly. Love your family and be ready to go gallantly to the gallows”

If what you say is true how do you reconcile it with the fact that, according to your ‘inerrant’ book, Jesus said, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother…he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26).

I’d also be interested in who are the Xtian followers that refused to be intimidated and exactly who were the ‘ungodly political leaders’. Some historical reference would be appreciated.

Also, I didn’t realise that you Christians regard the government as your saviour (must be something introduced after I left the flock) but if that is the case then I agree with you that Christians should join us secularists and give up that belief.

21 On May 15, 2007, at 4:16pm, David Binford wrote:

Good Word Bro. Charles, it’s hard to argue against The Word of God!

22 On May 15, 2007, at 4:28pm, Brad Hall wrote:

Just to clarify my point for Dan and Steve, if heterosexual married or adstinate individuals as defined by the Bible were what the term “sexual orientation” means in this bill, there would be no need for the bill.  All people are already protected equally under the law.  To add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” only serves to prop up a redefinition of family and glorify sexual perversion and does not serve any purpose in actually giving protection under law to an unprotected people.  It is very black and white to most Americans that this bill is a political tactic to endorse and edify certain behaviors that are defined as sinful in the Holy Bible.

23 On May 18, 2007, at 7:39pm, Dan Valdes wrote:

Another young man, Sean Kennedy age 20, it is just reported was murdered in Greenville SC as a result of a beating by a thug who perceived him to be gay.  Yes gay people are targets of homophobes and haters and since SC has no hate crimes law, it’s up to the federal government to prosecute as such.

24 On May 18, 2007, at 10:20pm, David Binford wrote:

It is truly sad that another human life was taken.  However, a hate crimes bill is not the answer.  We as a country already have legislature against murder, criminal violence and such.  Unfortunately a hate crimes bill will not stop violence. 

There is only one answer for the world and that is to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves, according to Matthew 22:37-40.

continued on next submission

25 On May 18, 2007, at 10:30pm, David Binford wrote:

The mistake that is made is that we as mankind mistake God for something that we make up to be whatever we want it to be, however, God is real, He is sovereign.  Any change from what the True, Inspired, Word of God says is idolitry and will end in eternal seperation from our Father and Creator.  The only way to an eternity with God is through His only begotten Perfect Son Jesus Christ (the anoited one).

Again, it is deeply saddening that we as humankind, who are supposed to be so far more advanced than the rest of the creation revert back to a behavior that most animals would never revert to.  The loss of any human life is a tragedy especially when it is taken by another person due to a lack of love and understanding.  God loves each of us just the way we are, but He loves us too much to leave us the way we are! 

continued on next submission

26 On May 18, 2007, at 10:44pm, David Binford wrote:

His (God’s) vision, plan and purpose for each of us is to spend eternity with Him.  It is by our own free will, our own choices that we seperate ourselves from Him by what we do and say that sends us to an eternal damnation that was never meant for us.

In Duet. 30 God says chose life!  For the record, I am not associated with the SBC.  I do not put a precedence in my church, my priority is my relationship with my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!  No church will bring eternal life, it is only through Christ! 

Be Blessed!

27 On Jun 11, 2007, at 10:51pm, Tim Hall wrote:

Why is it that the posts from religious folks (some who like to include specific Bible quotes) are just plain creepy?  They sound like they are in another world - another reality that sucks the brain cells right out of them.  They use the Bible as their “source” - a book that was written by man - to defend their Godly lifestyle.  Of course it’s always convenient to pick and choose specific verses from the Bible to support their position.  But I never see any quotes from the books that were NOT included in the Bible.  Hmmm….wonder why?

28 On Jun 11, 2007, at 10:53pm, Trek Anteerily wrote:

The misinformation of the editorial concerns me. This is about violent crimes (not speech) that can be reasonably shown to have been motivated by “hate”. You can read the text of the bill here.

Motivation is always considered in violent crimes and is a factor in the severity of sentencing, hence “pre-meditated murder” is punished more severely than “negligent homicide” etc. This bill says that if hate is shown to be a motivation, the crime and punishment are more severe, and the Federal Courts may step in, if “the State does not object to the Federal Government assuming jurisdiction.”

I am sure that good Christians do not mean to be saying they support violence against gay people? Including those who are merely “perceived” to be gay (or of other group)?  And why would the good Pastor worry about his sermon if his sermon is not inciting people to hate and act out in violence?

29 On Jun 12, 2007, at 1:31am, Antony wrote:

Before you make up your mind about this bill, I would like to invite you to visit hatecrimesbil.org. I would encourage you to read the posts so that you have a better grasp of how important this bill really is.

30 On Jun 12, 2007, at 1:41am, Mike wrote:

I was planning on posting the entire bill to see if anyone could figure out what the problem was, but then I got to section 8- and this pretty much shows that no research was done on this piece.

SEC. 8. RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.

    Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of, the First Amendment to the Constitution.

31 On Jun 12, 2007, at 6:05am, Sasha wrote:

Thought this might be helpful if you want more info:

http://judiciary.house.gov/media/pdfs/Shurtleff070417.pdf

32 On Jun 12, 2007, at 3:34pm, Mike wrote:

Well, that sounded a bit more harsh than I intended, and Land’s writings seems to be pretty fair on balance.  Looking at the actual bill, though, I just don’t see the threat to Christian pastors.  Does anyone else?

33 On Jun 17, 2007, at 9:23pm, Rick Hudgins Jr. wrote:

I think Dr. Land, as well as many (although certainly not all) other Christians, are incredibly off base here, as it pertains to this particular piece of legislation. There is no threat towards Christian pastors, as the text of this legislation makes no mention whatsoever concerning the prohibition of churches’/religious institutions’ decisions either to retain or terminate the employment of individuals based on their sexual orientation(s)—actual, or perceived. It does not in any way, shape, or form infringe on a clergy person’s right to condemn any type of sexual activity (or any other activity it perceives to be morally unacceptable) from the pulpit. Furthermore, as I believe has already been pointed out, this legislation does not grant “special” rights to LGBT individuals, but, rather, extends *equal* rights to these beautiful people.

34 On Jun 17, 2007, at 9:29pm, Rick Hudgins Jr. wrote:

“There is only one answer for the world and that is to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves, according to Matthew 22:37-40.”

-I would argue that being gay does not necessitate a failed observance of this command. Further, one cannot love his or her neighbor in such a way, while simultaneously refusing o recognize the level of violence and fear brought to the LGBT community because people fail to stand up for their peoplehood. Not me, I shall not remain silent any longer. The passage of this Bill is nothing less than a blessing from God; it is not granding special rights, but extending rights already protected in other communities (racial and handicap, for example). My fervent prayer is that this nation continue on this path.

35 On Jun 19, 2007, at 9:37pm, brent wrote:

“If you love me - keep my commandments”
              -Jesus to his disciples in John 15
” I came not to abolish the law - but to fylfill it”
            -Jesus to his disciples in Matthew 5
” Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness…”
        -Jesus to his disciples again in Matthew 5
NO ONE CAN CLAIM TO LOVE GOD AND WILLFULLY DISOBEY HIS COMMANDMENTS AT THE SAME TIME.

36 On Jun 19, 2007, at 10:03pm, Rick Hudgins Jr. wrote:

Please refer me, Brent, to the specific passage(s) in which Jesus condemns loving, consensual, same-sex relationships.

37 On Jun 21, 2007, at 5:12pm, brent wrote:

There is not a single word spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ against a “loving, consensual, same-sex relationship.” Not in those words, so to speak, but what does Jesus say about the “Law of God, the commandments of God, or His own commandments to the disciples?”
In turn I would ask you to refer me to a passage(s) that support a “Loving, consensual, same-sex relationship.”

38 On Jun 21, 2007, at 9:13pm, Dan Valdes wrote:

Christ came to free us from the law.  As a gift.  Grace beyond our ability to measure.  What the LAW says is in Leviticus is 20:13 “And if a man lie with mankind, as with womankind, both of them have committed abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”  Who among you feels justified in killing me?

39 On Jun 21, 2007, at 9:49pm, Rick Hudgins Jr. wrote:

I would start by granting that ver batim, Jesus equally neglects to mention the issue of “same-sex behavior.” I was merely attempting to point out the silence, on both sides, as it pertains to Jesus.

***I recognize that we probably have vastly different approaches to Biblical exegesis, and am merely presenting my position in the following***:

First, I would say context is everything—especially repetition. For example, Jesus is silent on the issue. Additionally, even the Jewish prophets seem to ignore the issue as well (see http://www.soulforce.org).

Secondly, out of over one million verses of text, there are fewer than ten verses that outright condemn “homosexual behavior.” The verses that are unfriendly towards the LGBT community are oft-shaved from their original contexts, as I believe the case to be with Sodom and Gomorrah, for example.

40 On Jun 21, 2007, at 10:00pm, Rick Hudgins Jr. wrote:

Additionally, I would contend that, regardless of our styles of/approaches to exegesis, we both as Christians have a responsibility to love one another. I think we can both agree on that. I refuse to fall back on false accusations of “homophobia” against other Christians (and people of other faiths) who do not support homosexuality. I think such accusations accomplish nothing, and only promote misunderstanding among Christians particularly on this issue. I do, however, recognize that homophobia *does* exist in the SBC, as it does in almost any other denomination(s). I am certain that we will ultimately disagree on this legislation, but I believe that a continued dialogue among those (homosexual and heterosexual) in the Christian community is crucial, if the Body of Christ is to stay united as one. In terms of your request for specific Biblical references that I believe support “loving, consensual, same-sex relationship”-I will have it posted shortly.

41 On Jun 21, 2007, at 10:12pm, Rick Hudgins Jr. wrote:

Biblical References (for starters):

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. . .And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. - excerpts from 1 Corinthians 13:4-13

I would argue that this legislation lives up to “the greatest of these” [Love]. This legislation is *not* self-seeking, it doesn’t “delight in evil,” and it offers both hope and perseverance for a historically oppressed population.

I would argue further that, as long as we live up to (try to live up to) Jesus’ command to “love one another,” within the context of our romantic relationships (really *all* our relationships), then our relationships are Godly.

42 On Jun 21, 2007, at 10:19pm, Dan Valdes wrote:

I KNOW WHO I AM - Gay or straight - this is the WORD
I am God’s child (John 1:12)
I am Christ’s friend (John 15:15)
I am united with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17)
I am bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
I am a personal witness of Christ (Acts 1:8)
I am the salt & light of the earth (Matt. 5:13-14)
I am a member of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27)
I am free forever from condemnation ( Rom. 8: 1-2)
I am a citizen of Heaven. I am significant ( Phil.3:20)
I am free from any charge against me (Rom. 8:31-34)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God (2 Cor.5:17-21)
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:18)
I cannot be separated from the love of God ( Rom.8:35-39)
I am assured all things work together for good (Rom. 8: 28)
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16)
I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3: 12)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil.
4:13)

43 On Jun 22, 2007, at 3:09am, Rob Chambers wrote:

Post 39 mentioned that “context is everything” when exegeting the Bible.  I couldn’t agree more!!  Exegeting the text affords the student of the Bible to understand and explain what the Bible means by what the Bible says. Without a commitment to exegesis various and sundry interpretations abound – and among them many are not biblical – as we shall see.

Is there an inconsistency between Posts 39 and 41 above?  Has there been a loss of the first love, “exegesis” (to draw the meaning out of the text) for another, “eisegesis” (to read one’s own interpretation into the text)?  Yes. 

This is all too common when interpretation begins with an individual’s presupposition (there’s nothing wrong with homosexuality) and/or their own external observations or experiences (homosexual behavior) and they use the Bible to proof text their presupposition and thereby they (wrongfully) justify their opinion (loving others means accepting homosexuality) based on scripture.  Case in point is Post 41.

It is clear that an exegetical study of I Corinthians 13 will yield that this text sets forth an explanation of spiritual gifts - not sexuality.  It does not even come close to even suggesting a Christian to overlook sinful, homosexual behavior.  Later it will be shown that this passage actually calls Christians to have a disdain for such behavior, but not disdain for the person.

One might argue that the word love in this passage refers to romantic love and argue that this is the basis for concluding that homosexual behavior is not sinful.  The Greek word that is trying to be forced into this passage in order to change the meaning or thrust of this passage is the Greek word for love, eros (sexual lust), which never even occurs in the New Testament.  Taking the understanding of eros and trying to force it into I Corinthians 13 is like trying to put an 8-Track into a CD player and stepping back and saying, “Hey, look, it fits, it works!!”  It can’t fit and it won’t work.

The Greek word for love in this context doesn’t even come close to relating to romantic love, sexual behavior, or sexual identity.  As a matter of fact, the Greek word for love in this text is agape from which we get our word charity.  This love or charity is characterized by good will or benevolence.  The correct application of this word in this context would be to encourage people to use their spiritual gifts charitably.  Furthermore, such a charitable expression of spiritual gifts does not call the Christian to overlook or to look past sexual immorality. 

Post 41 also says, in light of I Cor. 13, “I would argue that this legislation [Hate Crime Act] lives up to “the greatest of these” [Love].”  This argument is self-defeating.

Here’s the point.  I Cor. 13:6 says that love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness.”  From this it can be said, love does not rejoice in homosexual relationships (I Timothy 1:8-11).  From this it can be further said, love does rejoice in righteousness which leads to rejoicing in marital, heterosexual monogamy since marital, heterosexual monogamy is righteous behavior. 

If a Christian rejoices in an act that is unrighteous, like homosexual behavior, then the Christian would not be acting lovingly.  If a Christian is to act lovingly, then, according to 1 Cor. 13, the Christian would need to be against unrighteousness like sexually immoral behavior.  If hate crimes prevent Christian’s expression that homosexual behavior is unrighteous, then believers would not be able to communicate authentic love for those who act on homosexual urges.  Therefore, this legislation does not live up to “the greatest of these” [Love].”

So, hate crime bills actually legally restrain Christians from loving people with homosexual behavior because believers are not legally free to express the truth (I Cor. 13:6b) about homosexual behavior which is unrighteous (13:6a).  (Hate crime legislation could legally prevent Christians from rejoicing in the biblical normativity of heterosexuality)

If one uses their spiritual gift in a loving way, as Paul describes, then does this mean that Christians are to lovingly overlook, permit, laud, or affirm homosexual behavior?  No. Actually, Christians are to not love homosexual behavior.  Christians are to be imitators of Christ who hates sin and yet gave his life for sinners.

The Christian gospel calls all people to turn from sinful behavior including homosexuality, drunkenness, promiscuity, adultery, thievery, etc., and it is furthermore the responsibility of Christians to give this call to people from God because Christians are Christ’s ambassadors, “as though God were making an appeal through us…to be reconciled to God.”(II Corinthians 5:20).

However, Christians need to be aware that just because I Corinthians 13:6 says that love does not rejoice in unrighteousness it DOES NOT mean that Christians are to hate those or act hatefully toward those who act unrighteously.  Too the contrary, Christians must NEVER demoralize another person for their behavior, but they must present the truth and nature of the gospel, in love, by using their gifts as the passage in I Corinthians 13 tells us - with charity.

Forgive the abuse of character limit. Staffers have privileges. :-)

44 On Jun 22, 2007, at 12:44pm, David wrote:

Ladies & Gentlemen,
Since this seems to have turned a bit towards a Theological view as opposed to the original thread about the legislation we should examine a few facts about God and His Word.

First, in John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God….

John 1:14 says that Jesus the anointed one of God was the Word made flesh.

1 John 5:7 says that there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) and these three are One.

45 On Jun 22, 2007, at 12:54pm, David wrote:

So even if according to “red letter text” Jesus did not specifically speak on same-sex relationships He actually did throughout scripture.  He being the Word, and the Word written by men as the Holy Ghost (or Spirit) inspired and the fact that Jesus Himself said in John 5:20 & 8:28 that He does and speaks nothing unless the Father (God) tells Him.

46 On Jun 22, 2007, at 1:00pm, David wrote:

So if we as people (human beings) do what we should and take the whole Word of God and apply all of it as we are supposed to do then the scripture is very clear about same-sex relations in the aspects of physical intimacy with one another.  There are a few different scriptures that can shed light on that subject in both the old and new testament.

So, either the whole Word of God is True or it is a lie.
Whether you believe it or not does not matter, it is all relevant and all true!  Using or prostituting the Word of God to our own benefits is an extremely dangerous act!

2 Corinthians 5:17 says that if any person be in Christ (lives according to the Word) they are a new creature, old things pass away and all thing become new.

God does love each of us, He did sacrifice His Son for each of us but He did not give us grace so that sin may abound.  Romans 6:1

Jeremiah 29:11 says that He has a plan and a purpose for our lives, plans of good and not of evil, a good future.

47 On Jun 22, 2007, at 3:02pm, Dan Valdes wrote:

David says “So, either the whole Word of God is True or it is a lie.”
The word says…..
Be careful, therefore, to observe what I, the LORD, who make you holy, have prescribed.
9
“Anyone who curses his father or mother shall be put to death; since he has cursed his father or mother, he has forfeited his life.
10
If a man commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.

So David…what to do with the whole word of God…Who shall begin the killings?  Who is to sit in judgment?  Who applies the law?

48 On Jun 22, 2007, at 4:21pm, Brent wrote:

Good point David, you are right, and that is precisely the point I desired to make.Basically to deny the Words of God-is to deny “The Word”, “The Logos” of God who is the person of Jesus Christ.
If I am reading this thread correctly there are some who struggle with different exegesis styles, etc. in interpreting scripture - OK, valid point. But Jesus promised that when the Holy Spirit is come He will lead us into all truth.Now either there is “A”(singular) truth to the word of God or “multiple truths” which would then cause the World to declare “Jesus is a liar”, which will it be? I choose the former. Therefore since Jesus is the Word, and the Word contains law, and
the Law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Jesus Christ(Galatians), and Paul proclaims the “Law” as spiritual: it is the “Law” that brings us to the end of ourselves and the foot of the cross when we realize that we CANNOT, WITHOUT GOD’S HELP, LIVE A HOLY LIFE.”

49 On Jun 22, 2007, at 5:01pm, Brent wrote:

I would disagree with the friend who wrote that this bill is “Loving”. His argument is valid,and His heart is headed in the right direction, but not “Spot on” so to speak. It is because I have love that I am not “Homophobic”; I might add as well, that it is because I have love that I do not desire any person to remain in open, un-repentant sin, but rather I desire the following:
1Co 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites…1Co 6:11 And such were some of you.
    But you were washed,
    but you were sanctified,
    but you were justified in the name of the Lord
    Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
I WANT PEOPLE’S EYES TO BE OPENED, EARS UNSTOPPED, AND THE TRUE LIGHT OF CHRIST TO SHINE - THAT IS LOVING.(Italics for emphasis of reality-not emotion)

50 On Jun 22, 2007, at 8:42pm, Brent wrote:

The direction of this thread is precisely why this bill is so dangerous - who determines when the killing starts?! Who but God has the right to legislate morality? We do not kill people anymore for their sin’s as the Israelites were commanded (Capital offenses aside). That the sentence is worthy of death only serves to compound the mercy and grace received by the sinner-who repents and believes God for salvation from His sin.
Tell me please, Who will decide what I say is “hate speech” or “love speech”? Who will exercise grace and mercy with me when I attempt to love my GLBT friends into the kingdom of God - and am then condemned for my hate speech of addressing their sinful heart’s? Remember
“Mike Pence, congressman from Indiana, said the legislation threatens to criminalize religious speech. Pence was rebuffed in his efforts to tighten the section of the bill that says “any expressive conduct” secured by the First Amendment would remain protected under this bill.”

51 On Jun 22, 2007, at 9:01pm, Dan Valdes wrote:

Rob Chambers it would be nice if the SBC would be real about their concerns and not cloak it in false language.  The concern is not a free speech issue, it’s the “normalization” of gay people in the secular culture and it’s a political concern for the SBC.  When the SBC pretends otherwise and editorializes otherwise, it’s misleading to people who don’t really understand your motives.  The SBC has read the bill, and they fully understand that it’s no danger whatsoever to freedom of speech or thought.  You might as well be honest in your bigotry.

52 On Jun 22, 2007, at 9:45pm, Rob Chambers wrote:

RE: Post 51

“it’s the “normalization” of gay people in the secular culture and it’s a political concern for the SBC.”...“When the SBC pretends otherwise and editorializes otherwise,it’s misleading to people who don’t really understand your motives.”

This is positing false assumptions (motives, for example) that you have not attempted to verify and using them as if they were true to support your conclusion.  This is a classic ‘straw man’ argument and does nothing to further discussion. That post does nothing to counter any of the above arguments, or develop your own case.

Folks could rant all day long casting assumptions about each other’s motives, but that will never further the debate.

 

53 On Jun 22, 2007, at 11:56pm, Dan Valdes wrote:

It would be a great pleasure to learn the true motives then since we all know that the language of the bill specifically mentions free speech protections.  Additionally this government does not censor Fred Phelps Westboro Baptist Church and his highly inflammatory anti-gay rhetoric, so given that great liberty he has to protest the funerals of soldiers because he specifically believes our country is gay friendly…I encourage you Mr. Chambers to clearly state the motives of the SBC in seeing the bill fail.  No reasoned person honestly believes that the USA is becoming a “Thought Police State” from the language in this bill.  This article is clearly hyperbole.  I encourage you to state your motives in seeing it fail.

54 On Jun 24, 2007, at 3:07pm, Brent wrote:

Fred Phelps feeds the current debate - does he not? He once came to my town in hopes of raising support. Picketed a Catholic Church. The local, Conservative, evangelicals ignored him for obvious reasons.
The bottom line is that there is no “NEED” for such a legislation as ALL human beings should be regarded with Grace and dignity - regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. As I stated earlier, Government cannot “Legislate” morality. This does not mean that we should not (For sake of social order) have laws, but that morality itself is an issue of conscience and those with conscience will live according to the dictates of that conscience.
The real issue here is: Will I lose my opportunity to speak the truth in love as I see it?

55 On Jun 24, 2007, at 5:33pm, Rick Hudgins Jr. wrote:

Rob, I doubt this post will not be “censored,” but I want you to know that, because of your words and actions on this thread (and the actions/words of so many so-called “Christians” here), I have made my decision to pursue other spiritual avenues. I am leaving Christianity, forever. As Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ, though.” That quote has new meaning seared into my soul. I will always have a deep love and respect for Jesus, but if the mindset of this thread reflects Jesus in any way, shape, or form, then I suppose I need to get some spiritual Windex, and find somewhere that actually loves like Him-somewhere that genuinely spreads the message of the Gospel. I honestly feel sorry for many people on this thread, and wish there was something more I could do. Peace to all on this thread.

56 On Jun 25, 2007, at 9:28pm, dan valdes wrote:

The real issue here is: Will I lose my opportunity to speak the truth in love as I see it?

The answer is unequivocally NO NO NO!!!

57 On Jun 27, 2007, at 4:05pm, Brent wrote:

NO NO NO!!!? -
So if in the course of teaching a Sunday school class on 1Co 6:9-11 which reads:

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”

If I say that ALL these person’s can repent, and be washed clean form their sins, then live a NEW LIFE without those sins condemning them, and thereby not spend an eternity in hell for committing those sins - I will not be held liable for hating someone in those sins who disagrees and wants to live in their sin?

58 On Jun 27, 2007, at 5:48pm, Brian wrote:

I’ve been following this thread from the beginning, and there are a couple of questions and comments I’d like to make. First of all, what exactly constitutes a “hate crime”. It’s already been stated that this bill will not affect our Freedom of Speech. If that is the case, than this bill doesn’t protect anyone from verbal “hate crimes”. There are already laws in place that protect everyone from all other wrongful actions towards human beings regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, or anything I’ve missed. This bill would be redundant and unnecessary with the Freedom of Speech clause.

59 On Jun 27, 2007, at 8:03pm, Dan Valdes wrote:

Brent says: “So if in the course of teaching a Sunday school class…. I will not be held liable for hating someone in those sins….”

That is correct Brent.  In the course of teaching a Sunday School class on 1Co 6:9-11 or any other verse you elect to teach on, you are not liable for hating someone.  Feel free to teach hate in Sunday School all you want.  That is your freedom of religion.  I didn’t know it was Christianity, however.

60 On Jun 27, 2007, at 8:28pm, Brian wrote:

Secondly, I’m offended that you would lump all Christians in the same category as Fred Phelps. Fred Phelps doesn’t even lump other Christians into his category. He claims that only members of his congregation will wind up in heaven, and all other “Christians” will be sorely disappointed when they end up in hell. Homosexuals are not the only victims of Phelps. He regularly pickets gay rallies, other churches, and even military funerals. I’m sure homosexuals will be equally or even more offended if we lumped all of them in the same category as the gay gang in the Netherlands that would drug, rape, and inject their victims with AIDS. No matter who you are, all humans are capable of horrible acts and deeds. Try not to judge someone on the actions of another.

61 On Jun 27, 2007, at 9:06pm, Dan Valdes wrote:

Brian,

The point is not that all Christians are like Phelps (I am not like Phelps either) but rather if he enjoys freedom of speech, surely a more moderate or even equally inflammatory voice will be protected. It’s the minority voice that needs protection, after all.  Not the majority.  It’s always been that way.

This resistance to the bill by the SBC and others under the guise of speech is a red herring and they know it.  It’s a non issue.  The real issue is about affording gay people legal protection or even legally recognizing gay people.  That is what the SBC is concerned about.  It undermines their ability to subjugate gay people.

62 On Jun 27, 2007, at 10:20pm, Brian wrote:

Lastly, you claim that we are just worried about the “normalization” of gay people in the secular culture. The last time I checked homosexuality was already normalized. This is made evident by pastors and Christians needing to defend their stances by the overpowering media every day. In the Washington, DC area (where I’m from), it’s become a serious character flaw to preach or find homosexuality sinful. I’ve never rioted, picketed, nor told a homosexual that God hated him/her, but if I say I believe that homosexuality is a sin, people instantly look at me in a different light, and treat me differently. Christians all around the country are being portrayed as lunatics by the media every day.

63 On Jun 30, 2007, at 8:25pm, Matthew Hawkins wrote:

The concern about this legislation is specified in the first paragraph of this article…

could well lead to serious infringements of our First Amendment freedom of speech protections in the United States.”

This may not be a foregone conclusion here in America, but clear examples of infringement on freedom of speech in Europe do exist to give Americans pause.

As chronicled in the Washington Times and The Brussells Journal, these accounts occured as a result of ‘hate crime-esque’ legislation…

“Indeed, in Western Europe Christians no longer enjoy the right of conscientious objection. In 2001, Nynke Eringa, a civil servant in the Dutch town of Leeuwarden, was fired because she refused to perform same-sex marriages, recently legalized in the Netherlands. In 2004, her dismissal was annulled because the town had made procedural errors when she was sacked.”

“conscientious objection can only be claimed by civil servants who were already in office before 2001, while those employed after the legalization of same-sex marriages cannot refuse to marry homosexuals. This means that access to jobs in the civil service, which involve performing registry office marriages, is effectively denied to Christians.

“Similarly, in some Western European countries today Christians are effectively excluded from medical professions by a requirement that they participate in abortions during their studies.”

For those of you supporting Hate Crimes legislation, I’m curious what you think guarantees Christians in America will not face this kind of censorship and infringement on freedom of conscience .

At the time of this post, Richard Land is speaking to this issue on his live radio program Richard Land LIVE!. If you care to discuss your opinion on Hate Crimes legislation (for, or against), please call him (toll free) at 1-888-324-8456 today, or any Saturday between 12:00pm and 3:00pm ET.

64 On Jun 30, 2007, at 9:03pm, Matthew Hawkins wrote:

A side note, in response to Rick’s last post,

I gotta say, having followed this thread, that I’m kinda disappointed. From what I’ve read, this is what looks to have happened (forgive the oversimplification of this recap):

1) Rick criticizes the stance that this article, Dr. Land, and the ERLC take on this issue. At times he used Scripture to bolster his argument. Fair enough.
2) Rob counters Rick’s argument explaining why he believes Rick’s take on (and application of) those Scripture is wrong.
3) Instead of countering Rob’s argument, Rick gives up on Christianity entirely: “I am leaving Christianity, forever.”

As a thread reader, I expected (and had hoped) Rick would counter Rob’s arguments with an explaination as to why his take on Scripture is more accurate than Rob’s, thus furthering the discussion on this theological debate. Based on his last post, I fear Rick approached Christianity merely as a belief system and ‘a’ religion.  I think many Christians encounter other Christians with whom we greatly disagree, but we haven’t given up on Christ, each other, or the faith.

More importantly, as a Christian, I am saddened.  I hope I speak for each Christian on this thread regardless of our various takes on this issue, when I say I hope Christ will continue to persue Rick as I know he has me.  My prayer is that Rick would allow Christ to be Lord and Savior of his life, rather than having simply “a deep love and respect for” Him.

65 On Jun 30, 2007, at 10:18pm, Matthew Hawkins wrote:

To add to my earlier post, here’s a domestic example:

Valuing Speech

Marriage is the foundation of the natural family and sustains family values. That sentence is inflammatory, perhaps even a hate crime. At least it is in Oakland, Calif. That city’s government says those words italicized here constitute something akin to hate speech, and can be proscribed from the government’s open e-mail system and employee bulletin board.”

“The flier was distributed after other employees’ groups, including those advocating gay rights, had advertised their political views and activities on the city’s e-mail system and bulletin board. When the GNEA asked for equal opportunity to communicate by that system and that board, they were denied. Furthermore, the flier they posted was taken down and destroyed by city officials, who declared it ``homophobic’’ and disruptive.”

“Effectively, the city has proscribed any speech that even one person might say questioned the gay rights agenda and therefore created what that person felt was a ``hostile environment.’’ This, even though gay rights advocates used the city’s communication system to advertise ``Happy Coming Out Day.’’ Yet the terms ``natural family,’’ ``marriage’’ and ``family values’’ are considered intolerably inflammatory.

So in response to Dan’s post 56 (where he assured that Brian would not lose his freedom to speak on this issue, ” The answer is unequivocally NO NO NO!!!”):

Well it didn’t happen in Sunday School, and it wasn’t quoting a Bible verse, but this case in Oakland, CA is instructive.  The ladies of the GNEA were censored simply because they disagreed with gay rights advocates.

Yet there are those on this thread continue to say that this legislation presents no threat to free speech.

66 On Jul 2, 2007, at 6:56am, Rick Hudgins Jr. wrote:

I’ll take the bait (and I appreciate not being censored, no sarcasm intended):

Rob begins with a scathing, implicit suggestion that I am using the Bible with an agenda; fair enough. I would submit that the difference between others posting on this thread and me, is that I will admit that I have an agenda-one based on love, but an agenda nonetheless. Everybody approaches any text(s), including the Bible, with lots of baggage. I think it is pointless to continue dialogue, mainly because I think the Bible is inspired by God, but subject to the errors that will necessarily be inflicted by interpretation. I do not believe it is infallible. According to your interpretation, and your exegetical approach to scripture, you are 100% correct.

67 On Jul 2, 2007, at 8:24pm, Dan Valdes wrote:

That situation in Oakland could be a perfect case for freedom and speech and I believe that if the GNEA is so inclined that they could take that to court and win as stated, however, George Will editorialized that account so it’s hard to know all the facts from an op-ed piece.

When local government gets it wrong, we can sue in federal court for such things.  This is a federal matter.

Besides the hate crimes bill is not law at this point so its moot to argue causal relationships at this juncture.

68 On Jan 16, 2008, at 4:20pm, katie wrote:

“There is only one answer for the world and that is to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves” (Matthew 22:37-40)

The part about being a Christian that bothers me is we are taught that being gay is wrong. It bothers me even more when people say that God does not love gay people because they are going against the Bible. Look at that passage above, my friends. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. God does not want His children to hate each other because they do not have the same sexual preference. Whether you are gay or straight, God loves you no matter what. Stop being so close minded and open your eyes. The world is changing, and you need to accept that a person being gay does not make them a poor Christian. Homosexuality is not a disease, and God loves all of His children.

69 On Jan 16, 2008, at 11:41pm, Rick Hudgins JR. wrote:

Amen, Katie. Amen.

70 On Jan 17, 2008, at 5:55am, Katie wrote:

Thanks, Rick. I’m glad that someone else has my point of view on this :)

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