Freedom for All Except...

Michael Craven | Center for Christ & Culture | Monday, April 2, 2007

Freedom for All Except...

One of our most treasured freedoms in this nation is codified in the First Amendment to the Constitution, which states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

In particular is the right to public dissent and the freedom to express personal opinions that criticize specific ideas, positions, policies, and institutions. This freedom is essential to a free society in which ideas are allowed to compete for acceptance. Conversely this freedom also allows for the public condemnation of ideas that are believed to be false, and harmful to persons and society. This is essential to healthy debate within a pluralistic society where ideas, both good and bad, have the right to be expressed. It is this form of pluralism that then allows for such concepts as conversion. Opposing ideologies can freely compete for supremacy in the marketplace of ideas and observers can be converted to one position or the other based upon the merits of the given arguments, evidence and facts.

Practically, this means that even the most offensive ideas have the right to be expressed. This is necessary because there can be no attempt to preempt “offensive ideas” without first establishing an a priori standard that says some ideas are bad and of course this requires judgment of some kind from someone. This is precisely what the First Amendment is designed to limit – the right of “someone” in a position of governmental power to judge some speech acceptable and some not. Granted this is not an unlimited right; obscenity, slander, and libel are not protected under the First Amendment but the central aim of this amendment was to limit the government’s suppression of the broadest possible expression of ideas and opinions.

Today, legislators in the House of Representatives are pushing for a “discharge petition” to force a vote on the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2001, (LLEHCPA), H.R. 1343, another federal Hate Crimes bill that would add “sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability” to current hate crimes law. Introduced by Reps. John Conyers (D-MI) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), this one has more than 100 cosponsors. LLEHCPA would authorize the Justice Department to conduct local law enforcement hate crimes training, and to conduct expanded hate crimes investigations and prosecutions.

This legislation will ban alleged discrimination based on sexual orientation, whether actual or perceived, as well as “gender,” which include the categories of transgender, cross-dresser, or transvestite. To be clear, I do not advocate denying the natural rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to any person solely on the basis of their bad habits. However, neither do I advocate encouraging or sanctioning bad habits which impede persons in their reasonable and moral use of those rights.

The purpose of “hate crimes” legislation, in this instance, is to apply this preemptive aspect mentioned above, in order to render any speech opposing the legitimacy and promotion of homosexuality illegal, because such speech or even expressed thoughts constitute “hate.” Thus it inhibits the rights of those who resist the imposition of homosexual morality to disagree and brings the power of the state to bear on those who do.

In a bit of irony, the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee is also actively promoting this legislation which would also serve to suppress any public criticism of Islam. It is ironic in that, if Muslims were able to achieve their long-term goal of bringing this nation under Sharia’ Law, persons engaging in homosexuality would suffer severely. Politics does indeed make strange bed-fellows.

Michael Marcavage, director of Repent America makes the point that “Truth is not allowed as evidence in hate crimes trials… A homosexual can claim emotional damage from hearing Scripture that describes his lifestyle as an abomination. He can press charges against the pastor or broadcaster who merely reads the Bible in public. The ‘hater’ can be fined thousands of dollars and even imprisoned!”

As World Net Daily has reported, such laws already have been used around the world, where in Canada pastors are fearful of reading biblical injunctions against homosexuality, and in Australia where two pastors were convicted of “vilifying” Islam. Britain’s recent Hate Crimes Bill goes so far as to limit the rights of a private religious school’s ability to teach that homosexual behavior is immoral or thought to be wrong.

Peter LaBarbera, of Americans for Truth noted that in both Canada and France, legislators have been fined for publicly criticizing homosexuality. Three years ago, a Swedish hate crimes law was used to put Pastor Ake Green, who preached that homosexuality is a sin, in jail for a month. “And recently, a British couple told how they were denied the chance to adopt because it was determined that their Christian faith might ‘prejudice’ them against a homosexual child put in their care,” LaBarbera added.

Already in the United States, Catholic Charities of Boston halted all adoption operations in the state last year after being told under Massachusetts’ pro-gay nondiscrimination law, only agencies that placed children in homosexual-led households would get licensed by the state. And, the indoctrination into pro-homosexual thinking is well-entrenched in corporate where voicing one’s dissent will quickly result in termination or “counseling.”

Our nation is increasingly falling under the influence of those who want to live in “a way that seems right to them but in the end leads to death” and they are willing to do all they can to silence any and all who disagree. The greatness of this nation is, in the end, found only in a set of ideas and values. When these ideas and values cease to serve as our foundation; this nation, as we know it, will no longer exist and the freedom to follow Christ and press His Kingdom will be greatly limited. This may be the Lord’s will for this time but nowhere does such oppression give us license to be unfaithful in pressing the Truth.

I urge you to contact your representatives today and voice your opposition to this destructive legislation. You can locate and contact your elected representatives here:

© 2007 by S. Michael Craven

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S. Michael Craven is the Founding Director of the Center for Christ & Culture, a ministry of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families. The Center for Christ & Culture is dedicated to the renewal and reformation of society through the renewal and reformation of the Church. For more information on the Center for Christ & Culture, additional resources and other works by S. Michael Craven visit:

Michael lives in the Dallas area with his wife Carol and their three children.

Freedom for All Except...