Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Last Tuesday, over 130 people gathered at the Capitol to voice their opposition to H.R. 1592, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007. They represent highly motivated U.S. clergy that are responding to a national crisis against religious liberty. These leaders, mostly African-American pastors, had received the call to come to Washington in five days or less. In last week’s commentary, Massacre of the Pulpit, I outlined the major reason for the urgent trip to Washington.

Although the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Associated Press, and several national Christian media outlets covered the event, the secular press has largely been silent on this controversial bill. The media’s silence and the unprecedented speed of this legislation are not accidental. Congress has put this bill on a fast track to be passed just one month after its proposal. Strong Christian groups from around the country are voicing their opinions concerning religious liberties and freedom of speech this bill affects.

National security, the War in Iraq, and the Virginia Tech massacre rightfully occupy the nation’s attention. Our concern is that an important encroachment upon our rights as both Christians and preachers is being perpetrated in the shadow of these events. In light of the media’s bias against this kind of news, I would like to share portions of a letter that leading pastors from around the country will send to the Congress this week.

“…We preface our objections by stating that we stand united against violence targeted at homosexual citizens as we do against all human beings. The love of God would allow us to take no other position. However, we are unaware of any other federal statute which recognizes sexual orientation as a “protected class” of citizens….

“Granting protected class status to homosexuals is not necessary. We believe Congress may combat violence without expanding the protected class status to homosexuals. Indeed, Congress may simply grant additional funding to local governmental units to combat physical violence against all its citizens. This would, indeed, address the concern of homosexual assaults as well.

Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.