A vote is looming this week in Congress on a bill that one conservative activist warns would not only silence Christian opposition to homosexuality, but also would legitimize deviant forms of "sexual orientation."
A markup vote is expected Wednesday in the House Judiciary Committee on the Local Law Enforcement and Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. House Democrats only have to give 24-hours notice before the vote. The measure (H.R. 1913) sponsored by Representatives John Conyers (D-Michigan) and Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) would add homosexuals and transgender people to the list of classes federally protected from so-called "hate crimes."
Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition, says the bill is a serious threat to religious freedom.
"Your pastor could be prosecuted for conspiracy to commit a hate crime if it passes and become law," she warns. "This so-called 'hate crimes' bill will be used to lay the legal foundation and framework to investigate, prosecute, and persecute pastors, business owners, Bible teachers, Sunday School teachers, youth pastors -- you name it -- or anyone else whose actions are based upon and reflect the truth found in the Bible."
TVC says H.R. 1913 broadly defines "intimidation" -- and offers up this example: "A pastor's sermon could be considered 'hate speech' under this legislation if heard by an individual who then acts aggressively against persons based on 'sexual orientation.'" Under those circumstances, says the group, the pastor could be prosecuted for "conspiracy to commit a hate crime."
The legislation has another "serious problem," the pro-family group says, because Congress has failed to define the term "sexual orientation." Consequently, says TVC, 30 sexual orientations (as defined by the American Psychiatric Association) will "arguably be protected" under the legislation. "Those 30 sexual orientations include behaviors that are felonies or misdemeanors in most states or can result in death," notes the group's website.
In addition, TVC argues the bill is based on a fraudulent premise: that there is an epidemic of so-called "hate crimes" against "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender" persons that needs federal involvement for local law enforcement officials.
Lafferty says unless Christians in America act, the hate crimes bill could be on President Obama's desk in three to four weeks at the most.