Thursday May 3, 2007 was recognized as Americas national day of prayer. Even as Christians gathered to petition God for many things, members of congress met to debate and finally vote on hate crimes bill HR 1592. The bill squeezed by and was voted into law with 237 yeas and 180 nays.
The fight is not over because for all of the individuals and organizations who wrote their representatives to ask that they vote against the bill now the same effort must be repeated to defeat the Senate version of the bill referred to as the Matthew Shepard Bill S. 1105.
The Whitehouse top advisors have asked President Bush to veto the bills and he has bravely and graciously committed himself to do just that. We can be thankful that because many Christians were not even aware that this bill even existed much less that it actually made it to the floor of congress, our President knows what this bill actually means.
In a statement issued the morning of May 4, 2007 a communiqué from the executive offices of the White House said
The Administration favors strong criminal penalties for violent crime, including crime based on personal characteristics, such as race, color, religion, or national origin. However, the administration believes that H.R. 1592 is unnecessary and constitutionally questionable. If H.R. 1592 were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill
H.R. 1592 prohibits willfully causing or attempting to cause bodily injury to any person based on the victims race color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The Administration notes that would leave other classes of (such as the elderly, members of the military, police officers, and victims of prior crimes) without similar special status. The Administration believes that all violent crimes are unacceptable, regardless of the victims, and should be punished firmly
Both the house and senate versions of the bill are a direct affront to freedom of speech and freedom of religion and if by some remote chance they should become a permanent part of the law they will surely undergo challenges in the Supreme Court about their obviously suspect constitutionality.
The Hate Crimes Bill is a means of squashing the rights of preachers, gospel witnesses, youth workers, journalists, and every ordinary citizen to quote or explain to others what the Bible says about homosexuality.
Some of the events that have transpired during the fight against this twisted bill are close to amazing. One scene that is hard to imagine is that Rev Lou Sheldon and CEO Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition were found standing alone on the steps of the capitol during the house proceedings on Thursday. The absence of other Christians and organizations speaks to the lazy hazy days of summer that has lulled the church in America to a deep Laodicean sleep.
I got letters from several organizations and individuals that thanked me for a previous article I wrote entitled Christians Thrown to the Lions Not in Rome but in America. Amazingly some of them stated that they didnt even know the law ever existed. If believers are not aware of a law that will limit their ability to freely use and refer to their own Bibles, what are they aware of?
Jesus said A house divided against it self cannot stand and that is the single most important reason I have endeavored not to blatantly criticize the Christian church. It is hard at this juncture not to scathe the church for its sleepiness and distraction and it seems only fair to say that they need this figurative boot in the butt before more is lost.
It has become apparent that the recent conclusions of the Barna Group that say Christians are as equally influenced by media trends as are non-believers is more than just another disconcerting statistical report. It is rather and indictment. Fighting error is good but submitting to ignorance seems to cancel the best efforts of the ecclesia (church).
It is estimated that between all faiths in America there are 177 million believers. Conversely there are about a quarter of a million gay rights activists who support bills like HR 1592 and S. 1105. When an army of Christians that outnumber their foes seven times over doesnt know they are about to get squashed it seems safe to say someone is asleep at the wheel or perhaps, asleep in the church.
Dont be ignorant of this, the fourteenth amendment allows full protection of the law to citizens of the United States including gays. Bills HR 1592 and S. 1105 only serve to police what we may say or think about gay practices and no more. If America must resort to thought policing then everything this country stands for has not just started crumbling but is passing in a cloud of wind driven dust.
If you want to know more about the nature of these bills then search out organizations such as the Traditional Values Coalition, Faith2Action, Alliance Defense Fund, The High Impact Coalition, Repent America, Focus on the Family, Americans for Justice, Exodus International and the Pacific Justice Institute just to name a few. You will find names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of your representatives to speak to about your concerns.
Americans should be reminded that one woman and a small Texas based atheistic organization single handedly blasted prayer out of American schools before the church ever heard the rooster crow. Madalyn Murray OHair managed to ramrod a bill through the congress in the early sixties that Christians have loathed ever since.
American is enjoying the high times of a burgeoning stock market, prosperity and artistic freedoms not limited by anything but the imagination. But there is another high time approaching. At its peak these high times will end with a sleeping nation and a dozing church being brought to its knees by changes they never saw coming. God forbid that the unbelievers and scoffers are found standing around the wreckage wagging their heads and saying, they never knew what hit them. The Apostle Paul said it best. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we (first) believed. Romans 13:11