In their opposition to the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007, which extends federal protections to victims of violent crime targeted because of sexual orientation, many religious-right activists have taken a rhetorical short-cut, skipping claims of a “slippery slope” and asserting—against the explicit text of the bill—that it would target speech or religion. Ohio televangelist and megachurch pastor Rod Parsley, an increasingly influential political figure on the Right, dedicated his cable show to advancing this idea last week. From Wednesday’s “Rod Parsley” show on TBN (re-run on Friday):
The world, and the Enemy of our soul are making an all-out assault on our religious freedoms, and they’re leading the charge with proposed federal hate crimes legislation. …
This deceptive ploy of liberal, homosexual agenda begins to lose its allure once you pull the mask back and take a closer look. You see, the legislation that’s before our United States senators right now extends to speech and can punish people—hear me now—not for their actions, but for their culturally incorrect thoughts.
This legislation could become law, and you and I could find ourselves forbidden to speak from God’s word right here in America. I could no longer share my heart with you, on critical issues, such as this, through the medium of television, or even from the pulpit of my own church. …
[T]he next person charged with a crime could be me, or your pastor, or your grandmother, or maybe YOU.
Of course, when you “pull the mask back” on the Religious Right’s campaign against the bill, you find something completely different: a law that would only apply to violent crimes, and that specifically states that it does not apply to speech or religious expression.
On a segment that aired Tuesday and Thursday, Parsley compared hate-crimes protections to George Orwell’s novel “1984,” and asserted the existence of a conspiracy “whose sole intent is to limit traditional biblical thinking and biblical speaking”:
[I]t stands to reason that there’s something else here, some underlying insidious motive. In my book, “Silent No More,” I touch on this very issue. In Chapter Four I wrote: “The fact is the Homosexual world is rife with revolutionary rhetoric… and it has carefully mobilized itself to translate that rhetoric into action. Ready or not, here they come.” The radical agenda of these few activists is all too open and obvious. We cannot ignore the fact that a war is being raged against our belief system—against our very thoughts! …
Make no mistake about it: There is an agenda of “culturally correct” propaganda at work in the legislative branch of our government, whose sole intent is to limit traditional biblical thinking and biblical speaking, including God’s views on homosexuality.
The programs also featured brief segments of Bishop Harry Jackson, who claimed that Martin Luther King would be “against this kind of hate-speech [sic] legislation.” Jackson’s High-Impact Leadership Coalition previously ran newspaper ads claiming the bill would “muzzle our pulpits.”