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Protecting Our Children

Hate crimes: Consequences for Kids

By JoAnn Hibbert Hamilton

Who would think that a “hate crime” would be anything but terrible? Hate crimes legislation may sound benevolent, but is it really? We need to look at the long-term affects on not only our lives but also on those of our children.

One way to examine the affects of a hate crime law is to look at where it has been implemented and examine the results. Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values in Ohio, said, “We've seen it (problems of free speech as a result of hate crime laws) happen in the Scandinavian countries. It happened in nearby Canada. And now it is happening (here). … Citizens have been arrested and charged with a ‘hate crime' for quoting what the Bible has to say about homosexuality. If we don't rise up and take a stand now, this same scene will be repeated in cities across the nation.”

Five Christians, one of them a minor, have been charged with eight crimes and faced up to 47 years in prison and $90,000 in fines for peaceably preaching the Gospel on a public sidewalk in Philadelphia. But just recently, a court dismissed those frivolous charges.

What happened? Outfest, an annual homosexual event attacting about 30,000 people was the setting, October 10, 2004 . Eleven people gathered on the streets of downtown Philadelphia -- with police approval -- to pray, sing, read scripture and hand out literature. As Burress states, “It was their way of reaching out to homosexuals gathered in the city. When the 11 attempted to speak with the aid of a bullhorn, they were confronted by a group of homosexual radicals known as the Pink Angels, who surrounded the group with a barrier of 10-foot banners and tried to drown out their messages by blowing high-pitched whistles.”

Instead of arresting the homosexual activists who interfered with the Christians' First Amendment rights, the Philadelphia police arrested and jailed the 11 Christians. Video tape shows that the 11 Christians remained peaceful and polite throughout the harassment they endued. None of the Pink Angels were cited or arrested in this selective police work.

In the preliminary hearing, the Philadelphia city prosecutor referred to the 11 Christians as “hateful” and referred to their quotes in the Bible as “fighting words.” An intimidation charge against them originated with Philadelphia 's “hate crimes law,” to which the category of “sexual orientation” was just recently added. The alleged instrument of crime was the bullhorn. No riot occurred.

Burress said that the homosexual activists want it to be considered a criminal offense to express one's Biblically-based views on homosexuality. They claim they are a protected class. He goes on to point out that what we are dealing with here is a trend, which if allowed to continue, will spell the end of religious freedom in this country. If hate crimes bills are passed, expression of moral beliefs on this issue may well become a criminal act.

And isn't every crime of violence a hate crime? Doesn't every crime express contempt for the victim? We punish the people involved. How can we differentiate between a hate crime and a violent crime?

My apartments in Salt Lake City were vandalized with graffiti three separate times in about a month and a half and the police did not do anything about it. The thought that it was a hate crime never entered my head, but if it had been done to a person who was a minority, I wonder if they would have labeled it such?

Many people initially viewed the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion as a source of protection of women who were raped or were victims of incest. Once that door was opened, we became aware of all it came to include. For the sake of our children and for the sake of freedom of speech and freedom of religion, we need to seriously oppose any and all attempts to approve hate crimes legislation.

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