|PIC1|"Over the past few years there have been aggressive attempts to drive Christianity from the public square â everything from removing the cross at Mt. Soledad, the veterans' cemetery in San Diego, to removing Ten Commandments monuments all across the U.S.," says Robert Knight, Coral Ridge's Washington correspondent, who appears in Sunday's Coral Ridge Hour program.
"Now the people who are promoting this secular humanist agenda are on the verge of victory with the passage of a federal hate crimes bill," he continues. "This is what they've wanted all along because it will recast traditional morality, particularly Christian morality, as a form of hate speech â actionable by the federal government."
Earlier this month, the Senate introduced the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, just as the House passed its version of the expanded Hate Crimes bill by a 249-175 vote.
The legislation is intended by its sponsors to protect homosexuals and transgendered people from violent hate crimes by expanding a list of federally protected groups to include sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability. But critics say Christian broadcasters and even pastors covering culturally unpopular views, such as preaching homosexuality as sin, could eventually face prosecution just for expressing their religious views because their teachings could be blamed for inciting violence.
"Bottom line is we think that the bill under this language, while it's touted as something as designed to crack down on violence and hate-inspired crime, in fact can be used to prosecute non-violent crimes," NRB senior vice president and general counsel Craig Parshall told The Christian Post. "The bill has a chilling effect on the right of communicators to articulate and preach the full counsel of God."
Although the Senate version contains provisions that appear to protect constitutional speech and free expression, Parshall contended they are just "nice political banter" for debate that are not substantial protection for free speech.
Coral Ridge's Knight, meanwhile, said the hate crimes bill "poses perhaps the greatest challenge to the freedoms of speech, religion, and assembly that this nation has ever seen within our border."
Should Congress pass a "hate crimes" law, "homosexual activists will be emboldened to recast any public expression of traditional morality as a form of 'hatred' people need to take action against," he added.
On Sunday's Coral Ridge broadcast, the ministry will highlight some of the events that took place last year after California voters passed Proposition 8, a constitutional ballot initiative that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
After Prop. 8 was passed, there were many incidents of vandalism to churches as well as physical attacks against Christians.
"Cars with 'Yes on 8' stickers were vandalized, their tires punctured, their windshields broken . . . and an elderly couple with a 'Yes on 8' sign in their front yard was physically assaulted . . . [the woman] actually punched in the face," notes Dr. Gary Cass, president of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, on the broadcast.
"Can you imagine what these people would endure if there were 'hate crime' laws at the federal level?" Knight asks.
Coral Ridge has also made note of the backlash against Miss California Carrie Prejean, who was vilified for defending marriage during the Miss USA competition last month.
"On April 19, on that stage, I exercised my freedom of speech, and I was punished for doing so," said Prejean this past week during a press conference. "This should not happen in America. It undermines the constitutional rights for which my grandfather fought for."
Preceding Sunday's special will be the rebroadcast of a sermon preached by the late Dr. D. James Kennedy, founder of Coral Ridge, on "The War Against Christianity."
In the sermon, Kennedy addressed the culture war in the United States and the reasons why ridicule of Christians as intolerant bigots is the norm today.