Christians on high alert over hate crimes passage

Charlie Butts - OneNewsNow - 10/24/2009 4:15:00 AM A hate crimes bill sent to President Obama for his signature raises a red flag for Christians.

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed a hate crimes bill that Christian leaders have warned for years could greatly infringe on the rights of those who speak to loudly about their religious views. Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel agrees with most observers that President Obama will sign the measure -- adding that the president desires to "throw a bone to homosexual activists because they have been breathing down his neck...and this is a way to hold them off."

He notes that several years ago, a similar law in Pennsylvania resulted in the arrest of 11 Christians who were presenting the gospel at a Philadelphia homosexual rally. Barber goes on to say that the federal bill "will chill religious liberty and free speech -- and that is its intended purpose, not to protect anybody from hate crimes."

And as for pastors? "There is a very weak exemption in [the bill] which is totally illusory, and a religious exemption is not going to protect pastors," responds Barber. "Renegade prosecutors and politically correct leftists in positions of authority can subjectively determine what is or is not a hate crime." And then move on to prosecution, he adds.

Barber explains that Liberty Counsel intends to challenge the constitutionality of the hate crimes legislation.

Barber views the legislation as something akin to a muzzle. "Unfortunately, it places Christians -- people of faith, people who have traditional values relative to sexual an untenable position," says the attorney.