some of you may have heard about the bills running through congress right now, HR1592 and S. 1105. and may have seen the websites like this and this that predict the near future full of pastors being put in prison for preaching about things such as homosexuality.
i have had my eye on this for several months since i first heard about it, but my friend brandon emailed me about it, so i figured now was as good of a time as any to discuss it.
i understand the concern, and as a pastor am sympathetic to it. but we must be careful to not over exaggerate the actual wording to gain an emotional appeal . unfortunately, the right wing media has this down to a science. it seems that they believe if enough panic can be created with as few facts as possible, then there might be some change.
we don't want change if we have to misrepresent the truth to get it.
the wording in the two separate bills are referencing acts of physical violence. there is nothing that restricts the right to speak against what is found to be contrary to one's religious beliefs.
in fact, the HR 1952 bill includes the following:
"Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act,
shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected
from legal prohibition by or any activities protected by the
free speech or free exercise clauses of, the First Amendment
to the Constitution."
and the senate bill concludes with:
"any provision of this Act, an amendment made by this Act,
or the application of such provision or amendment to any
person or circumstance is held to be unconstitutional, the
remainder of this Act, the amendments made by this Act,
and the application of the provisions of such to any person
or circumstance shall not be affected thereby."
we do well to keep our eye on these things. we never know when there may be a day when there may be persecution for speaking teh truths of scripture. may we fight that with all of our abilities as provided by our current legal system.
but let us remember that even if our government fails, we do not need permission from anyone to speak the truths of god's word. and let us not act as if having our perceived "rights" revoked is the end of the world. people have been and are being beaten, killed, their families raped, tortured and killed for spreading the gospel. let us be wary of having a martyr complex over what we may be fined or put in a jail for saying.
may we remember that whether or not the country in which we lives grants us "freedom" of speech, we will always be free to spread the gospel. the apostles, early believers, and current believers in other countries did not and do not let any government keep them from obeying their god, who is the only bestower of "rights".