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Is Preaching About Homosexuality a Hate Crime?

The legal limits of the new Hate Crimes Act

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In October of 2009 President Obama signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Act as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. This legislation created a firestorm of controversy, with exaggerated and unfounded claims being made on all sides. According to some, pastors who preach against homosexuality from the pulpit, or even quote passages of the Bible pertaining to homosexuality, will be guilty of a hate crime. Is this fear warranted?


In 1969, Congress enacted a "hate crime" law making it a crime to use force or threat of force to "willfully injure, intimidate or interfere with" any person "because of his race, color, religion or national origin" in enjoying any "benefit, service, privilege, program, facility or activity" administered by the federal or any state government.

Over the years several attempts were made to add sexual orientation to the definition of a "hate crime" under this legislation, and to criminalize all hate crimes rather than just ...

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Displaying 1–5 of 9 comments

PD Lehman

September 07, 2010  9:32am

While Americans should be concerned with this legislation, at least your government is going about it the right way. In Canada, our hate crimes laws are not as specific and do not carry an addendum to protect religious leaders. Our government thinks it is covering all the bases but yours definitely is doing a better job of this. For example, we now have clergy losing their marriage licenses because they are refusing to marry gay people, which has also become a constitutional right in recent years since it has been redefined. While this has only been the case for those classified as a Justice of the Peace so far, it will effect the church as gay people target it. The reasoing is that a JP is a government official and as a representative, cannot allow personal morals to interfere with his/her professional mandate. So far it has only been a few JPs who have lost licenses, but this will effect various denominations, even those preparing for this impending legal battle.

Doug Sherman

September 03, 2010  4:07pm

Excellent! I appreciate the article and the specific answer to the question that so many are asking at this time. Thank you.

Curt Blackwill

August 23, 2010  11:57am

Excellent Info. I needed a good explaination of this law. Thanks!!!

Starla Gooch

August 19, 2010  12:43pm

Very good to know our legal rights. Thanks!

Ronald Spyker

August 17, 2010  10:49am

Great article and explanation, thanks for getting it to us.

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