Friday, August 31, 2007

Lying For The 'Truth'

"The truth shall set you free, but first it will piss you off"--Gloria Steinem

I had a long discussion today with a friend that was worked up over the highly controversial hate-crime bill that is currently being debated in Washington. Now, let me be very clear about something, before I jump into this because I'm sure I'll take some heat for my view:

I AM NOT NECESSARILY FOR THIS BILL OR THE IDEA OF HATE-CRIME LAWS IN GENERAL BECAUSE THERE ARE ALREADY LAWS THAT PROTECT ALL PEOPLE FROM VIOLENT CRIMES. HOWEVER, IF A HATE-CRIME LAW UPS THE PENALTY FOR PEOPLE LIKE KKK MEMBERS, NEO-NAZIS, OR OTHER TERRORIST GROUPS THAT COMMIT RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE TO STIR FEAR AND INTIMIDATION WITHIN AN ENTIRE PEOPLE GROUP, RACE, OR COMMUNITY, THEN I HAVE NO HAVE OBJECTIONS ABOUT SUCH A LAW.

Alas, the following is not an argument for this hate-crime bill, but a criticism of the DISHONEST tactics employed to dissuade people from supporting it. I take NO issue with those opposed to hate-crime legislation. However, I DO take great issue with people on either side of the political isle that use lies and fear to manipulate people into supporting their agendas.

For instance, I think certain democrats did a great disservice by shadily attaching hate-crime legislation to an unrelated war bill that would give funding to the troops to put President Bush in a catch-twenty two (if he vetoes the bill because of the constitutionally-questionable hate-crime proposal, then he simultaneously denies funding for badly needed supplies for the troops). This is NOT the right tactic. It is unethical and borders on extortion.

But I am more appalled by how certain Christian political groups have responded to the new hate-crime legislation. First off, hate-crime laws already exist, protecting racial, religious, and ethnic groups from those who seek to harm them because of the color of their skin, the place where they worship, or the country from which they were born. Hate-crime law not only ups the penalty for such violent crimes, but provides more resources to federal and state investigators to more aggressively prosecute such cases. The new legislation aims to add the disabled, both genders, and sexual orientation to the list of those protected under hate-crime law. The sexual orientation clause would include homosexuals (as well as heterosexuals) and this, of course, is controversial for many Christians.

Organizations like The American Family Association (AFA) have come out in full force against this bill. I am deeply ashamed of THE WAY in which they are opposing this bill, not the fact that they are against it.

AFA sends out all sorts of massive e-mail alerts to rally people to act on upcoming legislation and other current issues. This is completely fine. However, with this bill, their e-mail alerts FLAT OUT LIE. AFA claims that if THIS bill is passed with the sexual orientation clause, it will make it illegal for Christians to teach that homosexuality is immoral or even discuss homosexuality, resulting in HUGE fines and imprisonment.

HERE IS A SEGMENT OF THEIR JUNE 2007 E-MAIL ALERT:

A bill in Congress could make it a crime for pastors and churches to speak against homosexuality
Message to pastors and other Christians: Just keep your mouth shut
If pastors and other Christians don’t aggressively oppose a bill now in Congress, in the near future they could be subject to huge fines and prison terms if they say anything negative about homosexuality.The proposed law could make it a crime to preach on Romans Chapter 1 or I Corinthians Chapter 6. Or even to discuss them in a Sunday School class. If churches and individuals want to keep the government from telling them what they can and cannot preach and teach about homosexuality, they better get involved now!This bill could make negative statements concerning homosexuality, such as calling the practice of homosexuality a sin from the pulpit, a “hate crime” punishable by law. This dangerous legislation could take away your freedom of speech and your freedom of religion.

The AFA does not provide readers with the actual bill to read for themselves, but only a link to THEIR summary of it. At best, this is a display of reckless and irresponsible fact-checking and at worst, a blatant lie designed to stir up fear among their readers to ensure unquestioned allegiance to their agendas.

The bill itself, which I have read in its entirety several times, has NOTHING TO DO with prohibiting freedom of speech, or even "hate speech" (for statements to qualify as hate speech in the U.S., a person must be INCITING or ORDERING others to commit a crime, not voicing disapproval of a race, religion, people group, or a sexual practice). A scenario for a Christian to be charged with hate-speech would be if they are telling people to stone gays (OK, so Gary Demar might be in trouble, but I say it's about time). But this bill does not even deal with hate-speech laws. This bill keeps the previous hate-crime criteria that protects racial and religious groups (us Christians, too) intact and is only adding other groups that would be covered under it. This legislation does NOT redefine or broaden hate-crime guidelines. It only deals with PHYSICAL VIOLENT CRIMES, and not speech whatsoever, NOT ONE MENTION!

We've had THE SAME criteria for hate-crimes for races and religions since the late sixties and preachers can still openly criticize other religions without violating the law or undergo threat of GOVERNMENT penalty. Teachers on Christian radio and television have regularly denounced Islam as "an evil religion," their prophet as a "pedophile," it's people as "under Satan's control" and "condoners of terrorism and violence." Recently Bill Keller was taken off the air because of such language, not by the government, but by the station owners who did not approve. They reserve the right to regulate what programming is on their stations.

The point is that Christians in the U.S. (other countries without free speech rights is a different story) have been living with the religion protection clause in hate-crime law without facing LEGAL opposition for teaching that other religions are immoral, false, etc. etc. Why would it be any different for gays protected under THE SAME law that ONLY deals with violent crimes committed against them? Plus, more than 30 states have enacted hate-crime laws that ALREADY include protection for people of all sexual orientations and preachers in those states have not been legally forced to alter their views or public teachings on sexual morality.

For crying out loud, authorities can't even successfully prosecute NAMBLA members (North-American Man Boy Love Association) for putting out propaganda that explicitly teaches pedophiles how to lure children!!! If this is not hate speech, I do not know what is! Regardless, THIS particular law has nothing to do with people's right to free speech or expression of religious freedom. In fact, the bill clearly acknowledges protection for all voices, even ugly ones, guaranteed under the First Amendment! For the Family Association to propagate that this hate-crime legislation would negate free speech and religious expression is a BLATANT LIE, period.

The worst part about this is that sincere believers are duped into opposing this bill on what SEEMS to be legitimate grounds, but because what they've been presented with is a big fat lie, it appears to the gay community that Christians despise them and want everyone else protected from harm except them (notice no one is calling for a repeal for the other categories protected under hate-crime law). People's hearts will be as hard as the stones we throw at them.

Instead of selfishly (and falsely) harping on how this law will impede on our freedoms (which it won't), wouldn't the better tactic be to stand up for gays and say, "Even though we do not agree with your lifestyle, we will not tolerate or give credence to anyone who seeks to physically harm you, degrade you, abuse you or terrorize your communities." Even for the segment of Christians that view gays as "enemies," couldn't this be an opportunity to bless them (as we are commanded to do to our enemies) by ensuring their safety and demonstrating our concern for any injustice done to them? Couldn't this be an opportunity to build bridges to a community we've managed to alienate? The answers to those questions must be thought about and prayed about by each believer that is informed with the WHOLE truth. The American Family Association has done a grave disservice to its audience by spoon feeding them politically-motivated lies. Lies are never the right way to get a viewpoint across, no matter what the cause.

And if after you get ALL the information and are still against hate-crime laws, there are truthful and honorable ways to oppose it. Argue for equal rights for all and not special rights for some. Argue against hate-crime law as a whole and not just the fact that gays will be included. Argue that there are already laws to protect all people from violent crimes. Just argue with truth and integrity and do not stoop down to deceiving propaganda and fear-filled manipulation.

This is not the first time the AFA has conveniently omitted information, stretched the facts, and blatantly lied. Please, I implore, TEST ALL THINGS sent out by agenda-driven organizations, even Christian ones. Read the ACTUAL legislation in question, and not only the biased summaries of them. It's not only the smart thing to do, it's the right thing to do.

Here are the URLS to the FULL versions of the two hate-crime bills currently being debated.
http://www.hatecrimesbill.org/read_s_1105.html
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h110-1592

The following link is to an article that clearly articulates the unsavory tactics of the fanatics on BOTH sides of the issue.
http://www.abpnews.com/2666.article

15 comments:

Tilly Hester said...

OH THANK YOU FOR WRITING FOR THIS! I've been following this hatecrime debate and scratching my head about all claims that pastors will be dragged from pulpits to jail and churches will be forced to perform marriages for gay people. Anyone who has read these bills knows that is all nonsense, but too many don't read the bills and get swept up in all hype. Don't people realize that hatecrime laws have existed for decades and people of all creeds have been free to criticize, oppose, and publicly vocalize their opinions? The American Family Association should be ashamed of themselves for willfully deceiving the people that trust them for accurate information.

musicmommy3 said...

VERY VERY good Tia!


Thanks for the comment you left on my blog. It was nice to know that someone was wondering how I am. I'm doing well. Just busy. :):) (I wonder why?- she said in the most sarcastic voice she could muster. LOL)

Also, thank-you for the links. I'm gonna check them out tomorrow when I have a few minutes. :)

Have a great weekend!!
-Angela :)

Marissa said...

I keep forgetting to tell you. I dont know if you know this but there are two books out by the guys from DC talk. The first one is called "Under God" and I cant remember what the second one is called ( i only have the 1st one). They are all books that deal with racism. Some great stories by Martin Luther King and others. I think you would really like it

Tia Lynn said...

Thanks Mariss! I would LOVE those books. I vaguely remember an interview with DC TALK about their own encounter with racism in the South because they are "two honkees and a negro," as they would say. It's a crazy world we live in.

Matty Hillard said...

The old saying goes, "you made your bed, now you have to lie in it." Why should gays enjoy special protection for their chosen deviant lifestyles? If they didn't live that way, they wouldn't have to worry about "hate-crimes" committed against them. I won't support any legislation that acknowledges and bends to the gay agenda.

Tia Lynn said...

Oh matty, how you make me tired!

No one is asking you to approve of gay lifestyles or any other lifestyle that runs contrary to your personal religious beliefs. This legislation is asking people to DISAPPROVE of violence committed against minorities by granting authorities more resources to investigate heinous crimes and criminal organizations.

No matter how you personally feel about homosexuals, according to federal crime statistics, they make up nearly 20 percent of all hate-crime victims in the U.S. This should be an outrage and a concern for all believers in Christ.

I assume you don't approve of people believing in other religions besides Christianity, such as Islam or Buddhism. But people who ascribe to those religions are protected under existing hate-crime law. Do they not CHOOSE to fashion their lives after a religion in opposition to Christianity? Why aren't you calling for those people to lie in the beds that they have made as you are for gays? Or better yet, why not remove the log from your own eye by lobbying for CHRISTIANS to be removed from hate-crime law protection. You can't argue against special rights, while you yourself could benefit from hate-crime law if anyone was to harm you because of your faith.

Be consistent and fair-don't oppose hate-crime legislation because a particular group you are morally opposed to will be more efficiently protected from unlawful and IMMORAL vigilante violence and terror.

Peter said...

Tia, I love your blog and your commitment to fairness, justice, and kindness to those who have been cut off. You certainly do ruffle the feathers of prisoners to narrow ideologies.

This hate-crime law has been sieged upon by deceitful preachers, like Rick Scarborough, that play on people's fear with their politically-crafted lies.

Psalms 101:7, "He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight."

Proverbs 21:6, "The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death."

willam said...

I for one do not believe in special protection for minorities or other people groups. I believe all men are created equal and should therefore all have the same rights and privileges. I do, however, think that violence against any man, woman or child should be paid for by stiff penalties except in the case of violence in self defence.

Anonymous said...

My cousin, who is not gay, but friends with a few gay kids, was targeted by a gang, beaten and had the word queer carved into his back with a switch blade. Members of the masked gang told him to tell the other "faggots" that they'd do worse to them if they ever saw on the streets. Authorities could not call in federal help to investigate because sexual orientation is not covered in hate-crime law in our state. I hope this bill does pass and all the haters stop lying to ensure that it doesn't. I don't care what preachers teach from their pulpits, they have a right to say it, and nothing in this bill would take away their precious right to spiritually condemn homosexuals.

gordo said...

In order for someone to "believe" in one religion or another. That belief inherently insists that they also believe all others are wrong.

To put it plainly. If you believe that Jesus is God, then by definition you must believe that a muslim who says he is not God is wrong. If you believe that Jesus is the "One True God", by definition you must believe that Shiva is not God and Hindu's are wrong.

Therefore, what then are we to do about that? Well if we follow Jesus' example, we'll see that the only time he bacame militant in regard to "religion" was when he overturned the tables of the moneychangers. (We are familiar with that passage). Notice, he only became militant when someone from his own religion (so to speak) was behaving contrary to it.

People who believe that Homosexuality is ok are going to act on those beliefs. If you believe otherwise, there is no shame in saying so; however, understand that they are not coming from the same worldview as you are, so do not become militant in this respect. To do so would place you on the same level as Muslim terrorists, who seek to destroy Christians because they do not believe in Allah.

say what you want...act with caution.

Well said Tia. Carry that flag.

Harriet S. said...

I am completely mortified! I receive the AFA alerts and I ranted and raved about this bill to all kinds of people for the last three months because of it. It's my own fault for not looking into it for myself, but I feel totally manipulated. I was so angry that Christians were being made "victims" by gay activists, I was becoming bitter towards them. I see now that this notion was all a fabrication. I will be discontinuing AFA's e-mail list and writing them a letter confronting their dishonesty. Thanks for putting on the truth!

Tia Lynn said...

I had to learn the hard way too about looking into things for myself. It is so much easier to let other people do the research for you, interpret it for you, think for you...but it can be very dangerous not to question. Glad to be of help, sister.

hamiam said...

Google landed me here, my sweet, TruthSpeaking Sister in Christ.

I am so relieved to see other believers have the same thoughts and outrages as me. Keep on keepin' on.

Tia Lynn said...

Hamiam, thank you for taking the time to leave such a sweet comment! My blog tends to land me in trouble from time to time, so to hear that something I've written has resonated positively with someone means a lot to me! Come back again. :)

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