Commentary by Allan Erickson here.
The White House has announced that President Obama on Wednesday will sign into law the defense spending bill that contains sweeping new hate crimes legislation.
Obama will sign into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 Wednesday afternoon. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Members of Congress, and others will join him.
Then later that day Obama will host a reception to commemorate the enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
This act, named after a gay teenager and a black man who were both murdered, makes it a federal crime to discriminate based on sexual orientation, disability or gender.
Controversy erupted when this hate crimes act became tied to the $680 billion defense spending bill.
Tony Perkins, with the Family Research Council, said it forced lawmakers to choose between supporting the nation’s troops or their belief that the hate crimes act could interfere with the freedom of one’s religious beliefs:
“This hate crimes provision is part of a radical social agenda that could ultimately silence Christians and use the force of government to marginalize anyone whose faith is at odds with homosexuality. Expanding hate crimes puts America in lock step with the stated agenda of homosexual activists who will turn next to the so-called Employment Non-discrimination Act, followed by the repeal of the ban on homosexuality in the military and then the Defense of Marriage Act.”
The “hate crimes” bill approved recently by Congress could be a problem for broadcasters — most importantly, Christian broadcasters — when it is signed into law.
Sometime today President Barack Obama is expected to sign into law a measure that adds to the list of federal hate crimes attacks on people based on their sexual orientation. Congress approved the legislation last week as part of the $680-billion FY 2010 Defense Authorization bill. Appended to the hate crimes amendment was a statement ensuring that a religious leader or any other person cannot be prosecuted on the bases if his or her speech, beliefs, or association.
But Craig Parshall, chief counsel for National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), discounts that statement, pointing out that such laws in other countries have been used to silence people of faith. He believes the law approved by Congress is potentially dangerous as it relates to comments made about homosexuality or another religion.
The war on conservative speech has moved from the White House to your neighborhood pews. Left-wing church leaders want the Federal Communications Commission to crack down on “hate speech” over cable TV and right-leaning talk-radio airwaves. President Obama’s speech-stifling bureaucrats seem all too happy to oblige.
Over the last week, an outfit called “So We Might See” has conducted a nationwide fast to protest “media violence” — specifically, “anti-immigrant hate speech, which employs flawed arguments to appeal to fears rather than facts.” Their ire is currently aimed at Fox News and conservative talk-show giants. But how long before they target ordinary citizens who call in to complain about the government’s systemic refusal to enforce federal sanctions against illegal alien employers or the bloody consequences of lax deportation policies?
The “interfaith coalition for media justice” is led by the United Church of Christ. Yes, that’s the same church of Obama’s race-baiting, Jew-bashing ex-pastor Jeremiah Wright. Other members include the Presbyterian News Service, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the National Council of Churches. These religious liberals have partnered with the National Hispanic Media Coalition, which filed a petition in January demanding that the FCC collect data, seek public comment, and “explore options” for combating “hate speech” from staunch critics of illegal immigration.