Hate crimes case in Britain should signal a warning to Christians in America

Oct 30th, 2009 | By | Category: Signs of the Times (click on article name)

Hate crimes case in Britain should signal a warning to Christians in America


The problem is not exclusive to Great Britain. More than ever before, free speech and religious freedoms are under attack right here in America.

hate-crimeIn last night’s legal segment of Fox’s ‘The O’Reilly Factor,’ the panel discussed the story of Pauline Howe a 67-year old Christian woman who wrote a letter to town council voicing her opposition to a Gay Pride parade. Her letter reportedly stated the event is a ‘public display of indecency’ that was ‘offensive to God’.

The Norwich City Council responded to Howe with their own letter “warning her she might be guilty of a hate crime and that the matter had been passed to police.”

“Two officers later turned up at the frightened grandmother’s home and lectured her about her choice of words before telling her she would not be prosecuted,” according to UK’s MailOnline.

But Howe’s case still may be headed to court. The Christian Institute is “looking into potential breaches of freedom of speech and religious rights under the Human Rights Act, either by Norwich City Council or Norfolk Police.”

Here’s the reason Howe’s story is an important one to note in the U.S. The legal panel on Foxnews noted that we have the First Amendment, as if to say, a Mrs. Howe here in America is protected under constitutional law. Also, the consensus was that no judge in their right mind would prosecute an old lady whose “intent” was not to harm anyone. I understand this is because of the difficulty in proving someone’s intent, and is a common defense.

However, there is a problem with the notion that ‘intent’ would determine the innocence or guilt in a hate crimes case.

With the disgraceful passage of the Hate crimes bill in the House on Oct 8, and in the Senate last week, and Obama is expected to sign into law today, homosexuals are added to the list of groups covered under the federal law; in this case “extra” protections or “special rights” are based on sexual behavior and orientation, gender identity or disability.

This means that if anyone speaks out against gays and lesbians, by letter or other act such as distributing Christian leaflets (which Mrs. Howe has also done in her town), they could be prosecuted and found guilty of a hate crimes under the new law.

Whether or not the punishment is a slap on the wrist, in this country cases set precedent that can then be used to support similar cases. So, where a gay or lesbian individual claims their “special right” has been violated and the ruling goes in their favor, even in these minor cases where it seems logical that the defendant’s intent was not harmful or threatening, these rulings add up and become culturally embedded into the judicial system.

In other words, there is the potential for fundamentally changing how our first amendment protection will work in the future.

The new law entitled the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act (18 USC 249) is named after two murder victims from 1998 who were targeted for attack because of bigotry. But a hate crimes can extend to minor offenses, not just murder.

Which, by the way, shouldn’t everyone have the protection against bigotry? Gay and lesbians and their supporters haven’t always displayed a tolerance for Christians.

Misguided liberals and civil rights groups such as the Human Rights Campaign and ACLU are probably already lining up their hate crimes cases.

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