Religious Right Hopes African Americans Will Help Defeat Hate Crimes Bill

Bishop Harry Jackson’s High Impact Leadership Coalition ran an ad in the D.C. newspaper Roll Call last week to oppose the Hate Crimes Prevention Act under consideration in Congress. Raising the tired right-wing canard that “prosecutors and anti-Christian groups will use loop holes in this proposed legislation to muzzle the church,” the ad sought to drive a wedge between blacks, who are covered by federal hate-crimes law now, and gays, who seek the same protection against violent crime motivated by hatred:

High Impact Leadership Coalition ad in Roll Call

We are African Americans, though we represent thousands of Christian leaders of all races. We understand more clearly than most that racially motivated violence can be a form of internal terrorism.

The Black community needs a free pulpit. Indeed, ALL Americans need free pulpits.

(View a higher-resolution PDF of the ad.)

As PFAW has explained – the Hate Crimes Prevention Act only addresses violent crimes causing “bodily injury” – not speech, not preaching. Nevertheless, Jackson claims that the bill, backed by “the evil one,” will “shut [the church] down.”

Jackson has been a frequent ally of the Religious Right, especially in efforts to combat equal rights for gays – he wrote that the “wisdom behind” the “gay agenda” is “clearly satanic.” He wants black churches to end their acceptance of gay members. The D.C.-area pastor has often claimed that African Americans are at home on the far Right, from opposing “tax-and-spend policies directed at the poor” to focusing the church on abortion and gays, and he’s also urged blacks to vote for Republicans such a George Bush, whom he endorsed in 2004.

Jackson has also leant his support to right-wing efforts to push Bush’s extreme judicial nominees. At “Justice Sunday II,” a televised rally put on by the Family Research Council, Jackson explained that, because the law targets blacks unfairly, he supports right-wing judges, who will ensure “that justice will be administrated without partiality.”

Several other names on the ad are familiar from religious-right events. Herb Lusk hosted “Justice Sunday III” at his Philadelphia church. Bill Owens started a group called the Coalition of African American Pastors that emerged to support the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Ken Hutcherson rallied with James Dobson for an anti-gay marriage amendment to the Constitution – just before the 2004 election.