Preachers watching what they say
POSTED: Monday, May 3, 2010 - 6:10pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 - 3:24pm
TYLER-A UK minister is arrested for harassment. He allegedly called homosexuality a sin in public. And with the hate crimes bill now a law here in the U.S., many local preachers say now more than ever they have to watch what they say because of fear they too may be persecuted.
Baptist minister Dale McAlpine was handing out religious pamphlets on a UK sidewalk when he struck up a conversation with a passerby. The conversation? Homosexuality being a sin.
Soon after, a cop came up and arrested him because he was violating the UK's 1986 Public Order Act, which outlaws the unreasonable use of abusive language which would likely cause distress.
Following McAlpine's arrest, Christian campaigners told the UK's Daily Telegraph newspaper they're afraid the law is being used to curb religious speech.
While McAlpine await trial in the UK, some preachers back here at home are concerned that the hate crimes bill, which was signed into law back in October, could cause them to have a similar fate.
Congressman Louie Gohmert, who was against the bill from the get-go, says what happened in the UK is already happening here. Just a few months ago protestors in Philadelphia were arrested for holding up signs protesting gay marriage.
"When you get a group that becomes the 'speech police' and they demand that everybody say and believe what they do, you are putting a fuse on a powder keg and getting ready to light it," Congressman Gohmert said.
The hate crimes law authorized almost $700 billion for the Defense Department. It also contained a provision that would broaden the definition of federal hate crimes to include attacks based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.