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Friday, August 20, 2004

California's Hate Crimes Expansion: Dangerous To Christians?

August 20, 2004
The "thought police" may soon be roaming the corridors of businesses and schools in California, in search of people who have been accused of uttering "hate speech" toward homosexuals. Several Christian activists in the Golden State are concerned that that indeed could be the scenario if Senate Bill 1234 becomes law.

The intent of SB 1234 is to redefine what constitutes a "hate crime" in California. In general, hate crimes laws create different classes of victims, seeking greater punishments for crimes committed against one class of people -- such as homosexuals -- over other victims. Under this legislation, individuals could claim that someone expressing their deeply held beliefs, whether political or religious, presents an "intimidating" threat that is punishable. ... Penalties for violating SB 1234 include criminal prosecution and fines of $25,000.

Sponsored by lesbian State Senator Sheila Kuehl, SB 1234 has already been passed by the Senate and could be voted on by the Assembly as soon as today (Wednesday). Opponents of the bill are not optimistic about the Assembly vote and expect the measure to move along to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk for his signature before the end of the month. ...

Hate crimes law, CCF says, are the first step toward "thought police" because they punish people's points of views instead of focusing on people's conduct. California pro-family activist James Hartline calls SB 1234 a "frightening rewrite" of current civil rights laws that is masquerading as a protection measure. Christians, he says, should be particularly concerned.

"This bill would censor all Californians from their constitutional right to free speech when articulating what the Bible states regarding the sinful nature of homosexuality," he says, citing several scenarios. He contends the bill would prevent pastors from speaking out against homosexuality from the pulpit and would allow law enforcement to enter a church and arrest a pastor for doing so. ... FR Reprint.

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