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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Hate Crime or Love Crime?

**Warning - The Soapbox is back**

Feel free to just ignore this post if you don't want to read the rantings and ravings of a Christian woman who is concerned about the state of our world and country.

I read this article this week on IBD Editorials.

I’ll very briefly summarize though, in case you don’t feel like clicking and reading the whole thing. You should, because it’s an interesting read and not very long for the more ADD of us.

The main catalyst of the story is that apparently there are two American preachers living in Birmingham, England who have been told that to spread Christianity in a predominantly Muslim area is a hate crime.


A hate crime?

I have so many problems with this on so many levels that it’s hard to even get my mind around it. And some of the things I’m thinking about will just have to wait for another soapbox day.

First of all I have an issue with the idea of a “hate crime” in the first place. Let’s see, what we’re saying with the idea of charging someone with a “hate crime” is that we are going to punish what they are thinking.

For one thing; how do you know? For another; are you serious?

Certainly as a Christian, I believe that I sin in my thought life. We are challenged in the Bible to take each thought captive (2 Cor 10:5). It’s something I (and I think a good number of you) struggle with on a daily and even hourly basis. And do I believe that sin results in death? Yes.

However, not every sin is punishable by our civil laws. If they were, there would be a lot of politicians that would be incarcerated right now.

Let me take a tangent if I may…

I believe with all my heart that Jeremiah Wright is free think or say whatever he wants. But as a citizen of this nation who is over 18 years of age and a registered voter, I am free to decide that I will not support someone who has been taking in that kind of teaching over the last 20 or so years.

I personally think that much of what I have seen from Reverend Wright has been quite hateful, but no crime was committed.

However, I do believe that he will be held accountable (along with any person in a position of teaching or authority in the church) for any teaching that has led his congregation astray. But it won’t be by me or by you. It will be by God Himself, alone.

My point here is this… we don’t know people’s thoughts – only God does. So how on earth can we punish anyone for a crime of thought? My opinion… we can’t. The best we can do as humans in an imperfect and fallen world is to punish the action.

My next issue is that this is just absurd.

And scary.

We’re talking about the idea of spreading Christianity being a hate crime. Nothing could be further from the truth. People, like my parents, who are out there trying to show people Jesus are trying to show them His great immeasurable love. And they are doing out of His love for them. There is no “hate” about it.

And there is a dangerous precedent being set here. And one that we need to all be aware of.

We’re not talking about a nation that has historically been Muslim and under the laws of Islam. We’re talking about a great nation that has deep roots in Christianity. We’re talking about a nation that has historically made efforts to, as the author of this article put it, “spread the grand principles of the Western culture throughout the world.” This great nation is allowing its culture to be abandoned in favor of political correctness and moral relativism and this example, I believe, is just the tip of the ice berg.

But, with the epidemic of political correctness and talk of hate crimes here in the United States, when will our evangelical efforts among communities of different faiths be called into question? When will we, too, be guilty of hate crimes like this?

My fear is that we’re not that far behind the direction that England seems to be headed.

In fact, it’s already happening on this side of the pond. Several years ago, Canada added sexual orientation as a protected category in its genocide and hate-crimes legislation. Their “hate” laws are already preventing Christian based ministries from speaking the truth of the Bible with regard to comparisons to other religions. And not just preventing them from speaking the truth, but making them pack up shop if they don't comply and make certain statements about Christianity being equal to all other religions.

I just don’t think we’re far behind.

Consider for a moment the California Supreme Court ruling of recent weeks. If marrying any person of their choice regardless of gender is a fundamental right, how long will it be before pastors are imprisoned and churches are closed for refusing to marry homosexual couples? Yes, there may be a little bit of a slippery slope when it comes to what kinds of marriages might be performed. But the more imminent danger is when a pastor refuses to marry a homosexual couple and lands it jail over it.

I mean, Catholic Charities in Boston has already stopped providing adoption services because they would not comply with legislation and continue to allow homosexual couples to adopt through them. And it sounds to me like the bishops involved were considered the bad guys for sticking to their guns about the issue.

Both of these situations also bring to mind questions about the separation of church and state as well.

So, here's my question to you: What will we, as Christians in the United States of America, do when we are told that speaking the truth of the Bible and following God’s precepts for living is a hate crime?

I pray that we can honestly say that it’s not a hate crime. But a love crime.

"... but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ." Ephesians 4:15 (NAS)