Hate Crimes


Never judge a book by its cover, so goes the old expression.

Notice to Reader: "The Boards of both CERC Canada and CERC USA are aware that the topic of homosexuality is a controversial one that deeply affects the personal lives of many North Americans. Both Boards strongly reiterate the Catechism's teaching that people who self-identify as gays and lesbians must be treated with 'respect, compassion, and sensitivity' (CCC #2358). The Boards also support the Church's right to speak to aspects of this issue in accordance with her own self-understanding. Articles in this section have been chosen to cast light on how the teachings of the Church intersect with the various social, moral, and legal developments in secular society. CERC will not publish articles which, in the opinion of the editor, expose gays and lesbians to hatred or intolerance."

But what's true about books is even more true about legislation. For example, a bill pending before the Senate is titled the "Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007." Since few people want to promote "hate crimes," preventing hate crimes sounds like a laudable goal. Right?

Not if you read what's between the covers: The title of this bill ought to be the "Thought Control Act of 2007."

I told "BreakPoint" listeners and readers about the bill when it was pending before the House. Unfortunately, that bill passed the House and now faces Senate ratification—this time, in typical Washington fashion, as an amendment tacked on to the National Defense Authorization Act.

The law is just as dangerous now as it was then.

This bill would give the federal government jurisdiction over local criminal offenses believed to be "motivated by prejudice." Not just any prejudice, mind you, but prejudice based on "race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim."

Watch those phrases sexual orientation and gender identity, because they tell you which groups are pushing hardest for this bill. The committee rejected amendments that would include other groups, like veterans, the homeless, and senior citizens.

For the bill's supporters, it is not enough to walk down the street in complete safety. Nor is it enough to be able to work and live wherever you please. Like the state song of Kansas, they want a place where "seldom is heard a discouraging word" about homosexuality.

That still leaves us with "why?" Do crimes against homosexuals go unpunished? Are people free to attack gays with impunity?

Of course not. There are already laws against assaults on people and property. Moreover, according to the FBI, crimes against homosexuals in the United States have dropped dramatically. In 2005, out of 863,000 cases of aggravated assault, just 177 cases were crimes of bias against homosexuals—far less than 1 percent.

For the bill's supporters, it is not enough to walk down the street in complete safety. Nor is it enough to be able to work and live wherever you please. Like the state song of Kansas, they want a place where "seldom is heard a discouraging word" about homosexuality.

See, the bill is not about crime prevention or even civil rights. It's about outlawing peaceful speech—speech that asserts that homosexual behavior is morally wrong. That's why the House judiciary committee rejected an amendment stipulating that nothing in this law would limit the religious freedom of any person or group under the Constitution.

We've seen where laws like this can lead: Hate crimes have been defined to include verbal attacks—and even peaceful speech. The Thought Police have already prosecuted Christians under hate-crime laws in England, Sweden, and Canada. And in Pennsylvania, 11 Christians were prosecuted under the state's hate crime law for preaching on a street corner against homosexuality.

Please go to the phones. Call your senators or e-mail them. Urge them to vote against the Kennedy Hate Crimes amendment. You can visit BreakPoint.org to find more information about this radical law.

If we do nothing, the book under the seemingly innocuous cover will turn out to be 1984—and it will no longer be fiction, but the law of the land.

For Further Reading and Information

Chuck Colson, God and Government (Zondervan, 2007).

BreakPoint Commentary No. 070501, “The Thought Police: What the Hate Crimes Law Would Do.”

Read the original language of the House and Senate hate crimes bills. Also see this page.

Abigail Ruth, “Ted Kennedy Sneaks ‘Hate’ Crimes Amendment Into Defense Reauthorization Bill,” Culture Campaign blog, 13 July 2007.

Hate Crimes Amendment Sneaks Into Senate Defense Reauthorization Bill,” Liberty Counsel press release, 12 July 2007.

The Kennedy ‘Hate Crimes’ Bill: An Unwise Proposal,” Republican Policy Committee, 15 July 2003.

Harry R. Jackson, Jr., “Freedom Held Hostage,” Townhall.com, 16 July 2007.

What supporters of the Kennedy amendment say: “Letter to Senate Urging Affirmative Vote for Kennedy-Smith Hate Crimes Prevention Amendment,” ACLU, 13 July 2007.

TVC Calls Upon Justice Department To Investigate Homosexual Civil Rights Attorney’s Involvement In Persecuting Christians,” Traditional Values Coalition, 13 January 2005.


Charles Colson. "Hate Crimes." BreakPoint Commentary July 17, 2007.

From BreakPoint ® (17/07/2007), Copyright 2000, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries, P.O. Box 17500, Washington, D.C. 20041-0500. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. "BreakPoint ®" and "Prison Fellowship Ministries ®" are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship Ministries.


Charles Colson launched Prison Fellowship in 1976, following a seven-month prison sentence for Watergate-related crimes. Since then, Prison Fellowship has flourished into a U.S. ministry of 50,000 volunteers and has spread to more then 50 countries. Beyond his prison ministry, Colson is a Christian author, speaker, and commentator, who regularly confronts contemporary values from a biblically informed perspective. His "BreakPoint" radio commentaries now air daily across the U.S. and he has written 14 books, including Loving God, Answers to Your Kids' Questions, The Line Between Right & Wrong: Developing a Personal Code of Ethics, Against the Night: Living in the New Dark Ages, and How Now Shall We Live: A Study Guide.

Copyright © 2007 Breakpoint

Subscribe to CERC's Weekly E-Letter



Not all articles published on CERC are the objects of official Church teaching, but these are supplied to provide supplementary information.