Bil Browning

Indiana Family Institute resorts to lies (again)

Filed By Bil Browning | April 28, 2009 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Politics
Tags: hate crimes against LGBT people, Indiana Family Institute, Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, Matthew Shepard, rightwing fundies

It kills me that so many of the religious right hate groups have to use obviously twisted logic to support their biases and prejudices. sin_of_lying.jpgA good case in point is the recent e-blast from the Indiana Family Institute shrieking about hate crimes legislation.

Last week The U.S. House Judiciary Committee voted 15-12 in favor of legislation that would create a new class of crimes based on the victim's "actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity."

Under "hate-crimes" laws like H.R. 1913, pastors could be prosecuted for preaching the biblical view of homosexuality. Similar laws have been used to prosecute religious speech in the U.S. at the state level and abroad.

You'd think that three simple sentences wouldn't be too hard to get correct. The IFI e-mail, however, fails to measure up to that basic test. Each and every single sentence is a blatant lie meant to stir up the sheeple. Let's review the facts about each sentence:

The Actual Legislation

Last week The U.S. House Judiciary Committee voted 15-12 in favor of legislation that would create a new class of crimes based on the victim's "actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity."

The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (H.R. 1913) does not "create a new class of crimes." It expands the coverage of existing hate crime laws to include not only victims of crime based on religion, race, color, and national origin, but also bias-motivated crimes based on the victim's actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.

What this means to the average Hoosier is this:

The Indiana Family Institute is opposed to punishing someone more severely for targeting a disabled person for a crime because of their disability or a woman because of her gender. Why? Because they're prejudiced against the LGBT community, they'd rather condone violence against women and the disabled.

It's a lie to say that the proposed legislation "creates a new class of crimes" when there is already a federal hate crimes law in place. It's a lie to claim the legislation would only protect the LGBT community.

Prosecuting Pastors

Under "hate-crimes" laws like H.R. 1913, pastors could be prosecuted for preaching the biblical view of homosexuality.

Hate crimes laws only punish violent acts. Unless the pastor follows up on his sermon that gays and lesbians are going to hell by grabbing a shotgun and hastening Judgment Day for a "homosexual," nothing will happen. Pastors will still be free to make statements like "Gays and lesbians are an abomination," or "Transgender people will not be accepted into heaven" because it doesn't prohibit name-calling, verbal abuse or expressions of hatred toward any group.

Two Supreme Court cases from the 90s settled this matter. R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul and Wisconsin v. Mitchell both clearly found that a criminal statute may consider bias motivation when that motivation is directly connected to a defendant's criminal conduct. If the pastor doesn't commit a violent crime, what is there to prosecute?

In fact, the the bill specifically includes the following provision:

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 clause of, the First Amendment to the Constitution.

The Indiana Family Institute is lying when they say pastors will be prosecuted for preaching against gays and lesbians. Why? Because most sheeple won't have read the Act to see what it actually says. Claiming that preachers will be sent to prison is meant to rile up Christians' persecution complex and play against the congregants love of their pastor.

It's a lie to claim that ministers will be prosecuted for preaching religious dogma.

Here and Abroad

Similar laws have been used to prosecute religious speech in the U.S. at the state level and abroad.

This is simply a case of logical fallacy - a red herring, if you will. Reread the statement and then apply this filter: In the United States, do we follow Swiss laws? Do we follow the laws of Saudi Arabia? Or do we follow American laws? Making claims that "similar" laws were used to prosecute religious speech in other countries is ludicrous. The US justice system is unique to our nation and our legal precedents aren't set in foreign countries.

I'd also challenge the Indiana Family Institute to produce a "state level" court case from the United States where a hate crimes law was used to prosecute someone for religious speech. They can't. It's never happened. After all, religious and free speech protections are written into our Constitution - and the proposed legislation.

The Indiana Family Institute is lying when they claim people have been prosecuted for exercising a Constitutional right. Why? By pretending to have examples of these "prosecutions," the IFI is fearmongering, plain and simple. If they can scare people, they have a better chance to influence those people.

The Indiana Family Institute is lying when they suggest that United States federal law is subject to foreign judicial proceedings. As with the TV commercials hawking miracle cures that feature older men walking around in white lab coats to infer scientific credibility, by casually mentioning that "similar laws" in foreign countries the IFI is hoping to give their shadow truth another level of anti-foreigner and anti-gay tinge. They're simply playing to personal prejudices and bigotry as well as the fear of "the other."

An Ever Shrinking Fringe

Thankfully, the religious right American Taliban groups were handed a spectacular defeat when Obama was voted in to office. Public opinion is shifting from the Bush-led "me-first-screw-the-other-guy" mentality that dominated the late 90s and early 2000s. A 2007 Gallup poll showed that 68% of Americans favored expanding hate crimes laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity. A 2007 Hart Research poll showed large majorities of every major subgroup of the electorate -- including such traditionally conservative groups as Republican men (56%) and evangelical Christians (63%) -- expressed support for strengthening hate crimes laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

While these religious right orgs continue to bluster and bluff, Americans have turned the corner on their brand of exclusionary political dogma - and the hate groups like the Indiana Family Institute have to resort to lying with every sentence they speak.


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Yeah, the IFI is full of shit. And nothing's going to change that any time soon.

But this:

The Indiana Family Institute is opposed to punishing someone more severely for targeting a disabled person for a crime because of their disability or a woman because of her gender. Why? Because they're prejudiced against the LGBT community, they'd rather condone violence against women and the disabled.

Can we move on from saying that just because someone isn't in favor of sentencing enhancements or a specific punishment that that means that she is "soft on crime" or "condones violence"?

The IFI, though, I wouldn't surprised if their reasoning here is because they actually like the idea of violence against LGBT people.

But I totally agree with your larger point that the IFI doesn't know what they're talking about. The foreign situations they usually refer to are ones like that one in Sweden where a pastor was prosecuted under their hate speech law, even though he was eventually let off the hook. And he wasn't really preaching from the Bible either, he got pretty extreme.

At the state-level, they usually refer to those Gay Pride counter-protesters in Philadelphia who were arrested for something, if I remember correctly, related to a noise ordinance and refusing to comply with police officers when they were told to keep off the street. It had nothing to do with hate crimes legislation, but, well, it's a lot easier to lie than to admit your wrong sometimes.

Oh, fun stuff. I just read this about the congressional debate on hate crimes going on right now. People apparently can't tell the difference between hate crimes legislation and hate speech legislation.

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/04/29/foxx/index.html