American Christians Targeted for Wearing 'Jesus' T-Shirt

Posted: June 02, 20098:21 pm Eastern

By Bob Unruh © 2009 WorldNetDaily

Christians who have been protesting a plan pending in the U.S. Senate to impose a "hate crimes" law on citizens of the United States say they already are experiencing what life under that law would include, because they are being targeted because of the message on their T-shirts: "Truth is Hate to those who Hate the Truth."

The shirts, promoted on the Operation Save America website, have the slogan "Jesus is the Standard" on the front.

Operation Save America spokesman Rev. Flip Benham told WND that people wearing the shirts had assembled recently in Washington to protest S. 909, now pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee after being approved by the U.S. House on a 249-175 vote.

But he said police officers providing security at both the U.S. Senate building and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to allow citizens wearing the shirts to enter the buildings.

The plan is the target of an organized letter-writing campaign that has already generated more than 560,000 individual letters sent by Fed Ex to all 100 U.S. senators. The effort, organized by WND columnist Janet Porter, who also heads the Faith2Action Christian ministry, permits activists to send individually addressed letters to all 100 senators over their own "signature" for only $10.95.

WND has provided multiple reports on what is at stake when the Senate considers a national hate crimes proposal that is to add special penalties against individuals guilty of crimes based on ethnic, religious and racial hatred – and new classifications based on sexual orientation. The legislation has been described by critics as "The Pedophile Protection Act."

WND calls to police departments for the Senate and the court requesting a comment were not returned today.

But Benham said members of groups he's organized to meet in Washington to oppose the "hate crimes" plan have been threatened with arrest for even going up the Supreme Court's steps while wearing the shirts, and have been forbidden entry in other locations

"There's no way you're going to bring that (shirt) into the halls of the Senate building," he told WND.

"If we had a Muslim T-shirt, or a Barack Obama T-shirt, there would be no problem, but it's who we are (as Christians)," he said.

"We," he said, "are not invited to the party in Washington."

One member of a recent protest tour in Washington told WND that she was surprised at the Supreme Court's reaction to the T-shirts.

"Here's what happened," Nancy McFarland wrote in an e-mail to WND. " Upon aarrival we were greeted by a female guard who told us that we would have to turn our T-shirts wrong side out to enter the building to use their restrooms.

"I am a grandmother and very concerned with what is happening to our country," she continued. "These things are never reported through our mainstream media, but American citizens need to know what is occurring at our federal buildings."

Benham told WND the T-shirts may not be popular with security officers, but they are with visitors in Washington. During his most recent trip, buses loaded with school children arrived at the Supreme Court while his organization was there, and they asked if they could have some T-shirts and he complied.

But even the children were turned away from the court building unless they turned the shirts carrying Jesus' name inside out, he said.

"A lot of T-shirts say a lot of other things (and are allowed)," he said. "It's only Jesus."

A report on the Operation Save America website said the T-shirts were "a bold and powerful rebuke to those attempting to make laws that would criminalize Christianity.

"The Word of God has become 'hate' in America because it confronts us with our sin. Yet, So many passers-by asked for T-shirts. Buses stopped as we were proclaiming King Jesus, and folks jumped off to plead for the T-shirts and then jumped back on. It was absolutely incredible to watch common folk desiring to proclaim the Gospel of Christ. Many of us gave our shirts to them," the report said.

The website also features a video of some of the comments during the Washington protest:

Richard Land, of the Southern Baptist Convention, said such a law – by definition – requires judges to determine what those accused of crimes were thinking.

"This could create a chilling effect on religious speech, connecting innocent expression of religious belief to acts of violence against individuals afforded special protections," he wrote. "The criminalization of religious speech, such as speech against the practice of homosexuality, has already been seen in other countries with similar hate crimes legislation in place."

Meanwhile, no senator – Democrat or Republican – has yet issued a formal denunciation of the bill.

Barack Obama has promised homosexual murder victim Matthew Shepard's mother fast action in the U.S. Senate to approve the bill. Judy Shepard visited the White House to lobby for Senate approval after it cleared the House with opposition from many Republicans.

The White House issued an official comment on the meeting: "The President thanked Ms. Shepard for her work on the hate crimes bill and reiterated his commitment to ensuring that the Senate finalize the bill and act swiftly.

It's not too late to take advantage of the opportunity to overnight letters of opposition to the hate crimes bill to all 100 U.S. senators for only $10.95.

Sources working with senators opposing the legislation say the campaign has shaken up the dynamics of the debate.

"This bill was supposed to sail through the Senate, but it suddenly has become much more controversial as a result of all these letters," one source said. "Still, not a single Republican senator has yet stood up in open, public opposition to the bill."

Last week, a Texas pastor wrote an open letter to the U.S. Senate, asking someone, anyone, to filibuster the pending "hate crimes" legislation and stop what he calls a "maddening march to the destruction of our First Amendment right to freely practice our religion."

As WND has reported, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 would provide special protections to homosexual people but leave Christian ministers open to prosecution should their teachings be linked to any subsequent offense, by anyone, against a homosexual person.

Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, and Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said the only chance to defeat the legislation was for a massive outpouring of opposition from the American people.

"If you guys don't raise enough stink there's no chance of stopping it," Gohmert said on a radio program with Porter. "It's entirely in the hands of your listeners and people across the country. If you guys put up a strong enough fight, that will give backbone enough to the 41 or 42 in the Senate to say we don't want to have our names on that."

An analysis by Shawn D. Akers, policy analyst with Liberty Counsel said the proposal, formally known as H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act bill in the House and S. 909 in the Senate, would create new federal penalties against those whose "victims" were chosen based on an "actual or perceived ... sexual orientation, gender identity."

Gohmert warned Porter during the interview that even her introduction of him, and references to the different sexual orientations, could be restricted if the plan becomes law.

"You can't talk like that once this becomes law," he said.

He said the foundational problem with the bill is that it is based on lies: It assumes there's an epidemic of crimes in the United States – especially actions that cross state lines – that is targeting those alternative sexual lifestyles.

"When you base a law on lies, you're going to have a bad law," he said. "This 'Pedophilia Protection Act,' a 'hate crimes' bill, is based on the representation that there's a epidemic of crimes based on bias and prejudice. It turns out there are fewer crimes now than there were 10 years ago."

He said he fought in committee and in the House to correct some of the failings, including his repeated requests for definitions in the bill for terms such as "sexual orientation."

Majority Democrats refused, he said. He said that leaves the definition up to a standard definition in the medical field, which includes hundreds of "philias" and "isms" that would be protected.

Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., a "hate crimes" supporter, confirmed that worry, saying: "This bill addresses our resolve to end violence based on prejudice and to guarantee that all Americans regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability or all of these 'philias' and fetishes and 'ism's' that were put forward need not live in fear because of who they are. I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this rule…"

Obama, supported strongly during his campaign by homosexual advocates, appears ready to respond to their desires.

"I urge members on both sides of the aisle to act on this important civil rights issue by passing this legislation to protect all of our citizens from violent acts of intolerance," he said.

But Gohmert pointed out that if an exhibitionist flashes a woman, and she responds by slapping him with her purse, he has probably committed a misdemeanor while she has committed a federal felony hate crime.

"That's how ludicrous this situation is," Gohmert said.

Akers' analysis said the bill would result in the federalization of "virtually every sexual crime in the United States." And he said it appears to be part of an agenda that would relegate pro-family and traditional marriage advocates into the ranks of "terrorists." Critics also have expressed alarm because in committee hearings Democrats admitted that a Christian pastor could be prosecuted under the law if he spoke biblically against homosexuality, someone heard the comments and then committed a crime.

"Under [the plan] the speech of a criminal defendant and the mere membership of the defendant in a given group may be used as evidence of his or her biased motive," Akers said.

During arguments in the House while the plan was being adopted, lawmakers pointed out the representatives were voting for protection for "all 547 forms of sexual deviancy or 'paraphilias' listed by the American Psychiatric Association."

Porter cited the amendment offering from King in committee that was very simple: "The term sexual orientation as used in this act or any amendments to this act does not include pedophilia."

But majority Democrats refused to accept it.

"Having reviewed cases as an appellate judge, I know that when the legislature has the chance to include a definition and refuses, then what we look at is the plain meaning of those words," explained Gohmert. "The plain meaning of sexual orientation is anything to which someone is orientated. That could include exhibitionism, it could include necrophilia (sexual arousal/activity with a corpse) ... it could include urophilia (sexual arousal associated with urine), voyeurism. You see someone spying on you changing clothes and you hit them, they've committed a misdemeanor, you've committed a federal felony under this bill. It is so wrong."

Republicans in the House also attempted to amend the bill to offer hate crimes protection for U.S. military veterans who were attacked because of their service. Democrats unanimously rejected the amendment.