I was excited last Friday when I got the word that I was featured in an extensive article in USA Today. The voice on the other end of the phone also informed me that a sizable picture of me would also appear. Needless to say it only took but a few minutes for me to get a copy of the paper in my hand. As I read the article, I was further flattered by the fact that the writer included the story of my father being threatened by a Florida State Trooper in a 1950s hate crime.
The joy that my message is getting huge traction in the mainstream media faded as I read the second paragraph. “Jackson's argument is a lie, and it should not be told in the name of the Gospel.” This riveting line stopped me in my tracks. Spoken by a major gay advocacy group’s leader, these words were meant to vilify me and the thousands of Christian ministers around the country that believe exactly like I do. I was saddened but not surprised. I could not help asking myself the question, “Have we reverted to senseless name calling, instead of debating the facts?”
Growing up in the ghetto, I am familiar with the politics of intimidation. I learned early in my youth that it was when I was most afraid that I could sometimes bluff toughness and “sell a few wolf tickets.” My loud voice and an intimidating looks got me out of more than one close call. On one occasion, a friend of mine yelled at a guy who had pinned him to the ground and was beating him unmercifully, “I dare you to let me up!” Much to his surprise he was turned loose from a choke hold by his larger, ferocious foe. My friend wisely ran for cover upon his release.
Like my childhood friend, gay activists around the country are getting nervous that they are about to experience an embarrassing political setback. Instead of amending the hate crimes legislation that protects churches in a substantive way, they are simply crying out in a louder, more threatening manner. Gay advocates are not looking for fairness; they are looking for an upper hand.
The Senate refers to S-1105 as the Matthew Shepard Law. Matthew Shepard was a gay student who was tragically murdered in Wyoming nearly a decade ago. This legislative moniker identifies the bill as being pro-gay vs. pro-everyone’s civil rights. Fortunately for Matthew Shepard’s family, justice was served in that case. The murderers were found promptly and dealt with swiftly.
In contrast, the families of many blacks murdered in the civil rights movement era are still waiting for justice. Last Friday, the following words appeared in the USA Today along with the article on hate crimes: “Justice for two black teens came 43 years late Thursday when a jury convicted reputed Klansman James Ford Seale for taking part in their abductions and killings.”
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.