Christian Today reports:
The petitions collected by Coral Ridge Ministries are a response to the hate crimes amendment that Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) attached to the defence spending bill under consideration in the Senate this week.
“This is the single most dangerous piece of legislation we have seen in the recent past, because of its threat to silence the Church on the subject of homosexual behaviour,” said Jerry Newcombe, senior producer of The Coral Ridge Hour, CRM’S TV broadcast. “I shudder to think what the impact on free speech will be if this law is enacted.”
Many Christian and pro-family groups have been protesting the hate crimes bill for months, arguing that the federal bill is repetitive of existing state laws and threatens the free speech of those who speak on the biblical view of homosexuality.
Other groups speaking out against the legislation:
– Family Research Council: Targetting Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, “the Family Research Council is placing automated calls (sometimes known as “robo-calls”) to Nashville households about legislation that would include attacks motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation among the offenses covered by federal hate-crime laws.”
– Focus on the Family: “Democrats have attached an amendment to a Defense spending bill that would create federally protected “class status” for homosexuals, bisexuals, transvestites, “transgender” and “transsexual” people. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., has pulled the bill off the floor…. Ashley Horne, federal policy analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said hate crimes legislation likely will return to the Senate floor [in September].”
The Episcopal Public Policy Network has issued an appeal to supporters of hate crimes legislation to contact their representatives. Here is an extract of a letter sent to Congress by our Presiding Bishop:
As the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, I am pleased to add our endorsement of hate crimes legislation and urge your strong support for the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 S. 1105. As Christians, in Eastertide we celebrate the new life that comes out of death. One of the important transforming steps our nation can take toward the new life that Christ personified is the full inclusion of gay and lesbian persons and the valuing of their lives and gifts equally to all other persons. All are children of God. Even though it may be difficult to find God in the face of the other, God is there. And we must hope that others see the face of God in us as well.
The Presiding Bishop also recalls the words of her predecessor:
The fact that Matthew was an Episcopalian makes our grief no more sharp, but it does give us a particular responsibility to stand with gays and lesbians, to decry all forms of violence against them – from verbal to physical, and to encourage the dialogue that can, with God’s help, lead to new appreciation for their presence in the life of our church, and the broader community.
An email policy alert from EPPN points out this is bi-partisan legislation with 42 co-sponsors. The email continues, hate crimes “contradict our Baptismal Covenant pledge to “respect the dignity of every human being.” ”