Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Important Legislation Information

This just came to me from National Religious Broadcasters. Please prayerfully consider taking action.

In its present form, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 (H.R. 1913) threatens Christian communicators, broadcasters, Bible teachers and everyday citizens. Members of Congress must be told that the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech are not being effectively protected by this hate crimes legislation. A vote on this dangerous bill is scheduled in the House tomorrow.

On April 22 and 23, 2009, the full House Judiciary committee held a session to “mark-up” H.R. 1913. More than a dozen amendments were offered to this legislation, but none provided adequate protection for the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech. The committee then voted 15-12 to approve H.R. 1913.

If this bill becomes law it will add sexual orientation, and something called “gender identity”, as a new basis for federal prosecution. In other words, if someone commits a “hate crime” and the sexual orientation or gender (which can be broadly defined) of the victim is the perceived impetus for that crime, a brand new federal criminal charge would be brought and the sentencing guidelines under this federal law would be much more severe, and could even include life in prison.

This should be of particular concern to religious broadcasters and any minister of the Gospel because their teaching on homosexuality (among other things) could be considered the impetus to a crime, should a listener/viewer/parishioner commit a crime against a homosexual, lesbian, or transgender individual. Or a listener/viewer/parishioner could claim psychological harm was done to them by the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality and other sexual and gender identity issues, and then drag any minister or religious broadcaster into a lengthy court battle.

Despite the hard work of Bob Powers, NRB’s Vice President of Government Relations, and Craig Parshall, NRB’s Senior Vice President of Communications and General Counsel – along with many other pro-family and religious liberty attorneys and organizations – H.R. 1913 is moving forward and remains very dangerous. This legislation should be important to every American because both religious free speech and free religious expression are at risk as the bill is currently written.

The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 will be voted on tomorrow (Wednesday) in House. Following that, the Senate will begin committee deliberation in the weeks ahead.

Please contact your House Member and tell them that H.R. 1913 is unacceptable and dangerous. To find your member of Congress, and their direct office phone number, log on to www.freedomtobroadcast.com. Also, if you know your member in the House, you can simply call the Capitol Switchboard at(202) 224-3121. Ask for your Member’s position on hate crimes legislation (H.R. 1913) and politely request a NO vote on H.R. 1913.