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Michigan Christians sue because the Matthew Shepherd Act restricts their rights. They must want to violently attack gay people

Timothy Kincaid

February 5th, 2010

Hate crimes, as defined by Federal law, are violent crimes that are motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The Matthew Shepard Act is very clear that it relates to violent crimes, not to preaching:

(3) CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prohibit any constitutionally protected speech, expressive conduct or activities (regardless of whether compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief), including the exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment and peaceful picketing or demonstration. The Constitution does not protect speech, conduct or activities consisting of planning for, conspiring to commit, or committing an act of violence.

(4) FREE EXPRESSION- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to allow prosecution based solely upon an individual’s expression of racial, religious, political, or other beliefs or solely upon an individual’s membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs.

However, the Thomas Moor Law Group has filed a lawsuit on the behalf of some “Christians” who feel that this law restricts them from observing their faith. (Christian Post)

Four Christians on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit challenging the recently enacted Hate Crimes Prevention Act, arguing that it seeks to criminalize deeply held religious beliefs that are in opposition to homosexuality.

The 27-page long complaint was submitted by the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of Gary Glenn of the American Family Association of Michigan and Pastors Levon Yuille, James Combs, and Rene B. Ouellette, who are also based in Michigan. It names U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., as the defendant.

We must assume that the Thomas More Law Center has read the law. And because the law has no effect on their rights to belief or expression of belief, the only logical conclusion is that these four Christians wish to plan for, conspire to commit, or commit an act of violence.

Or, perhaps, this is just another example of folks who think that because “homosexual acts, according to Scripture, are acts of grave depravity that are intrinsically disordered and are contrary to the natural law” then their religion trumps civil law.

Sometimes I can’t figure out if they are arrogant and opposed the basic principles of civil liberties and equality or if they really truly wish they were free to beat us in the streets.

Comments

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Patrick
February 5th, 2010 | LINK

I vote option #3 – they’ve repeated their own lies so often, they now believe them to be truth.

John
February 5th, 2010 | LINK

There really can be only one reason why this act would violate their rights. They must plan on committing violent hate crimes against gay people. I don’t know if other hate groups have pre-emptively challenged laws that they plan to violate with the intent of committing violent felonies.

If they plan to commit these violent acts in the future, it would be logical to assume that they have committed similar acts in the past. Sounds to me like reasonable grounds to start looking at cold cases in the area and see if they are linked to the plaintiffs.

Kelly
February 5th, 2010 | LINK

Honestly. Sometimes I am so ashamed to be a Christian. I can’t even imagine how hard Jesus is headwalling right now.

Ray
February 5th, 2010 | LINK

Thank your to “Reported” for reporting this story to Fox. They are the EXACT people who need to read it. I encourage Fox to join the suit so they, too, can be publicly humiliated by their illiteracy with regard to the plain words of the Hate Crimes Act.

Christopher Waldrop
February 5th, 2010 | LINK

When you “people” realize its not the facts of the case that matter but the seriousness of the charge that counts…

Thank you, “reported”, for making it clear that the facts don’t matter to you. Neither does making sense, though. The seriousness of any charge depends on the facts. In this particular case, which you apparently didn’t read, four people are bringing a frivolous lawsuit claiming that a hate crimes law infringes on their right to hold prejudices. It doesn’t. The law simply stiffens the penalties for crimes which are intended to create fear in a community.

If you have a problem with hate crimes laws please feel free to make an argument, although your argument’s not going to mean much unless you back it up with some of those facts you disdain.

Jarred
February 5th, 2010 | LINK

What are the chances that this is a fundraising stunt?

I’m not (yet) cynical enough to believe that these ministers actually want to commit or promote (at least not explicitly) violent crimes against LGBT people. And I’m inclined to believe that the folks at the Thomas Moore Law Center are competent enough to know that the Matthew Shepherd Act explicitly declares that it cannot and will not be applied to preaching that homosexuality is a sin. This leads me to conclude that they are filing a lawsuit they know the cannot win.

The best — if not the only — reason I can think of for doing so is as a fundraising ruse. We already know that anti-gay leaders and Religious Right leaders in general rely heavily on stirring up fear amongst their supporters to keep the money coming in. And what better way to stir up that fear than to file a lawsuit knowing it won’t go anywhere and then point to the fact that the lawsuit was thrown out as “further proof” that “liberal government” and “activist judges” are against and even out to get “good Bible-believing Christians.”

Jason D
February 5th, 2010 | LINK

The best — if not the only — reason I can think of for doing so is as a fundraising ruse. We already know that anti-gay leaders and Religious Right leaders in general rely heavily on stirring up fear amongst their supporters to keep the money coming in. And what better way to stir up that fear than to file a lawsuit knowing it won’t go anywhere and then point to the fact that the lawsuit was thrown out as “further proof” that “liberal government” and “activist judges” are against and even out to get “good Bible-believing Christians.”

They’d have to be counting on overwhelming ignorance to succeed.

I’m not saying it won’t work.

There was a similar stunt a few months ago, anti-gay folks gathered on capital hill, preached anti-gay rhetoric, and dared the state department to arrest them.
Few people attended, the government didn’t even notice, much less do anything about it. Massive fail.

Hard to call yourself a victim when you’re oppressor doesn’t even have the common decency to persecute you. I mean they went straight into the lion’s den and poked him with a stick!

Jarred
February 5th, 2010 | LINK

They’d have to be counting on overwhelming ignorance to succeed.

I agree. But isn’t that par for the course? I mean, they seem to rely on their supporter’s ignorance of the facts in some of their other persecution stories, such as the whole David Parker arrest and lawsuit and the loss of the Ocean Grove pavilion’s tax exempt status.

Lynn David
February 6th, 2010 | LINK

They don’t have standing. I don’t think even the crazies of Westboro Baptist would have standing.

Then there were the Christian homophobes who couldn’t get arrested immediately after the bill was passed.

Honestly,…. these people are starting to look even like wingnuts to my more homophobic uncle.

TomChicago
February 6th, 2010 | LINK

They are fearful and angry. These stances usually result in finishing off any clear thinking. It is not the first time, either, that hatred has been promoted under the cloak of religious belief.

tavdy79
February 6th, 2010 | LINK

In that case, can I sue on the basis that laws against religiously-motivated violence deny me the right to carry out my Biblicly-mandated duty to stone my aunt, who married a divorcee and who is therefore an adulterer?

Matt
February 6th, 2010 | LINK

Also, the law targets all people equally – prohibiting actions on the basis of ALL sexual orientations. These plaintiffs are protected just as much as any openly gay person.

OTRDriver
February 6th, 2010 | LINK

One thing is for sure the Attorneys will get paid…

It’s too bad the Courts time must be wasted on this type of ignorance. I hope the judge scolds the attorneys for bringing it, and the plaintiffs are then sued for filing a baseless complaint.

wister
February 6th, 2010 | LINK

‘reported’ makes their case pretty clear. That’s all they’ve got.

Jason D
February 6th, 2010 | LINK

Lynn, you bring up a good point with the Phelps clan, who have not only not missed a beat since the MSAct passed, they haven’t even attempted to sue regarding the law — and they have a history of frivalous lawsuits.

I mean if the MSAct did what they claim it’s supposed to do, The entire Phelps family would be in jail already. Yet they keep truckin along, town to town, protest to protest, they even advertise that they’re coming, it’s not like they’d be difficult to catch or even spot.

Richard W. Fitch
February 6th, 2010 | LINK

As odious as the Phelps Cult may be, they are not stupid. At least three of them have JD’s. They know which battles to take to court and most of the time they either win or draw. They depend on financial judgments in their favor to continue their “Love Campaigns”.

Priya Lynn
February 6th, 2010 | LINK

Jarred said “What are the chances that this is a fundraising stunt?”.

I think you’re right Jarred, that’s the only “rational” reason I can think of for this – pretend they’re standing up for christian rights and then when they’re defeated scream “We’re being persecuted! Society is going to collapse! Send us Money!”.

Ace
February 6th, 2010 | LINK

Forum on the Family held a huge rally in Grand Rapids about a year ago. Their leader harangued a gay crowd at Grand Valley, and was drummed out of the room. Then, at another venue, hundreds upon hundreds of the ignorant attended….at $60 a head to be “de-programmed” of homosexuality. Follow the money. It’s all about the money. The leaders sucked off thousands upon thousands of dollars from a deeply depressed economy in this part of the state. For shame..and for what? To propel their hate to the people. Their true Christianity is as much in jeopardy as that of any bigot.

Christians claim hate crimes law an effort to ‘eradicate’ their beliefs | Raw Story
February 6th, 2010 | LINK

[…] "without being investigated or prosecuted by the government."Writer Timothy Kincaid, blogging for the Box Turtle Bulletin, could hardly contain his sarcasm."[Because] the law has no effect on their rights to belief or […]

Regan DuCasse
February 6th, 2010 | LINK

Yep, fear=exploitation opportunity!

If these people truly paid attention to reality they COULD look at the Phelps and MassResistance and consider that these people are not in jail. No matter how invasive, how obnoxious, no matter how highly visible.

Not Rush Limbaugh, nor Pat Robertson, nor James Dobson and so on are not only not in jail or having any litigation pending, they aren’t even censored or blocked from media whatsoever.

They continue to describe the presence of gay people as an all consuming monolithic advance on their freedoms, WHILE THEY HAVE THEIR FREEDOMS AND SUPPORT FOR THEM ALL ALONG.
Yet will, as in this case complain because gay people MUST or demand to SHARE the same.

Even the anecdotal incidents these Christianists describe were by and large matters taken to due process and legal consequence. Gay folks have taken their grievances to court, and before judges because these are mostly the ONLY places to do so.
And to courts mostly over MAJOR issues, such as custody of children, retention of property and pensions, compromised careers, physical and mental assault.

What IS it, in the delicate and high maintenance sensibilities of those who have launched the biggest challenge and complications to gay lives, that they can’t just GO ON in peace with gay folks having a family, a marriage, the ability to be SELF RELIANT?

If they are THIS disturbed, or their religion MAKES them this disturbed, NOT to leave gay folks in peace, then they are truly dysfunctional and don’t understand the place of religion and it’s NON ENFORCEMENT in our country.

Mykelb
February 6th, 2010 | LINK

As far as the law goes, I don’t see how these people have any standing. The government has not taken any action against them for which they have a greivance. Unless they are arrested and charged with a hate crime, they don’t have standing to sue.

Scott
February 7th, 2010 | LINK

Too bad the Supreme Court already decided on this question (unanimously I might add) in Wisconsin v. Mitchell in 1993.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisconsin_v._Mitchell

They’re going to be laughed out of court.

Ignorace(Politics+Religion) = Exasperation. « et al.
February 7th, 2010 | LINK

[…] only reason these people could possibly still have a reason for being against this act, as one blogger put it, “is that these four Christians wish to plan for, conspire to commit, or commit an act […]

Eshto
February 7th, 2010 | LINK

Just skimming these comments… looks like some of you can’t comprehend why they would do this. Some of you think it must be a ruse. They must have some kind of ulterior motive, right? Maybe it’s just a publicity stunt for fundraising? Religion must just be a “cloak” they wrap themselves up in to hide their real motivations.

Well consider this please: maybe the religion itself really is the source of their hatred and they are being completely sincere.

Maybe they just read the Bible. You know, the Bible – that book that condemns homosexuality and says gay people should be put to death. Maybe that’s where they got their ideas from?

Just a thought.

Scott
February 7th, 2010 | LINK

And maybe they’re hucksters, Eshto. Either way your comment really doesn’t say much.

Wayne Besen
February 8th, 2010 | LINK

Until Coe gets off his a** and films a Warren-like video, than he supports the bill 100-percent, as far as I’m concerned.

It is great that Warren T. asked and he should be commended. But, Warren is not the New York Times, ABC News or even YouTube.

We need a clear public statement and genuine transparency. Not a clandestine back-room conversation that allegedly took place. A private assurance is essentially meaningless and will do little to thwart the bill in Uganda.

Heck, even Obama and Clinton made a public statement. Is Mr. Coe so self-important and his ego so enormous, that he thinks he’s better than the President and Secretary of State?

Priya Lynn
February 8th, 2010 | LINK

Eshto, if you’re suggesting they’re doing this because they really do want to violently attack gays and lesbians and to unabashedly fight for the right to do so I find that highly unlikely.

Eric M Stokes
August 23rd, 2010 | LINK

I am truly sorry, as a Christian, that some Christians have created a perception that Christians wish to hurt or kill homosexuals. Scripture says of all people that all are sinners, not only those of a particular sexual oerientation. Christ came, in his own words, “to seek and to save that which was lost”. While Romans 1 and other passages say that homosexuality is a sin, we are all sinners — we have all “come short of the glory of God” by lying, or cheating, or having straight sex outside marriage, or some other sin. Christ does not love homosexuality, but He does love homosexuals and so should all Christians. Christians and gays all should have the right to free speech, not to hurt anyone physicaaly.

Richard Rush
August 24th, 2010 | LINK

Eric, please stop hiding behind fake humility and the “we are all sinners” pretense while coming here specifically to remind homosexuals that they “come short of the glory of God.” That can still be psychological violence for some people who have not yet escaped from the shackles of religious superstition.

Priya Lynn
August 24th, 2010 | LINK

Eric, how dare you compare gayness to lying and cheating?! You can call gayness a sin all you want, but it is not a wrongdoing.

Timothy Kincaid
August 24th, 2010 | LINK

Eric,

Perhaps it would be useful to read my commentary about Christians who mean well but just don’t get it. A relevant portion is:

But what these Christians fail to see is that we do not see our sexual orientation in terms of behavior. We are not gay because we do gay things. We are gay because we are internally, inherently drawn in matters of romantic, emotional, sexual and spiritual attraction to persons of the same sex.

The sins that this tolerant Christian sees God forgive in his life are based on his own behaviors; his failings are his own actions. But the sins that he sees God forgive in our lives are not behavioral, but inherent; our failings are intrinsic and will be present no matter what we do.

Kate
April 10th, 2012 | LINK

That is the weirdest fortune cookie message I have ever seen.

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