Will Federal Hate Crimes Bill Coerce Churches?
Last April the House of Representatives passed HR 1913, which expands the definition of “hate crimes” to include those against individuals based on sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability. The Senate has not voted on this yet.
There are voices out there decrying this expansion of the definition of “hate crimes”, saying it can be used against churches and pastors who teach the orthodox Christian doctrine regarding homosexuality and marriage. The Baptist Press raises such concerns (click here). But it’s not just those crazy Baptists who are concerned. The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod’s President also has concerns (click here).
I admit I’m a little concerned about this. A couple of decades ago I would never have imagined the state prosecuting the church in court for its orthodox teachings. But much has happened in the past few years that I would never have imagined. The gay-rights movement is a strong political force these days. And if I’ve learned anything in the last 2 years, it’s that our actions have unintended, even unimagined, consequences. As I understand it, the LCMS is calling for some time and careful thought about this bill – something we should have given to recent bailout bills.
I wonder – if pedophilia is a sexual orientation, would restrictions we place on pedophiles (like registering with local authorities) be a “hate crime”? If a dad lost his temper and beat up a pedophile who molested his daughter – would that be a “hate crime”? If masochism is a sexual orientation, could a masochist sue a sadistic partner for “hate crimes”?
I wonder what the definition of “sexual orientation” is. And what it includes. Would PETA get involved in cases of bestiality (another sexual orientation)?
I’m not joking about this. I’m wondering.
But another concern I have is about the whole “hate crimes” thing. I wonder about laws against thoughts and attitudes. I wonder about singling out particular groups of people for special protection. I wonder, is it any worse for me to kill you because I’m a bigot, than it is to kill you because I’m stupid? If we had a “Stupid Crimes” bill, maybe I’d be more supportive…