Contact: Michael Marcavage, Director, Repent America, 800-3-REPENT, Ext. 5
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 17 /Christian Newswire/ -- Repent America (RA) has joined in the fight against the newly proposed hate crimes bill now before the U.S. House of Representatives, and is calling Christians to pray for this emergency situation and to voice opposition to their elected officials.
Earlier this month, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) introduced H.R. 254, which calls for the establishment of a new federal offense for so-called hate crimes. The bill is similar to hate crimes measures passed by the House in 2005 and the Senate in 2004, which would commission a separate federal criminal prosecution for state offenses tried under its provisions. If convicted, an offender could face life in prison.
"The proposed federal hate crimes bill is a dangerous threat to our civil liberties," stated Repent America director Michael Marcavage. "Having been charged under Pennsylvania's hate crimes law for declaring the truth about homosexuality, I can assure you that if this bill is passed and signed into law, it will be used to put Christians behind bars," Marcavage continued.
In October of 2004, eleven Christians with Repent America were arrested while ministering the Gospel on the public streets of Philadelphia at a publicly-funded celebration of homosexuality called "OutFest." After spending 21 hours in jail, District Attorney Lynne Abraham's office charged them under Pennsylvania's hate crimes law called "Ethnic Intimidation," along with a host of other felony and misdemeanor charges. These charges were later dismissed; however, if the Christians had been convicted, they would have faced up to 47 years in prison and $90,000 in fines each.
"H.R. 254 is nothing more than an attempt to provide federal prosecutors with the ammunition to police our thoughts, which will ultimately lead to the death of the First Amendment," Marcavage said. "This bill is unnecessary, unconstitutional, and simply un-American," he continued. "Christians must pray and respond to this emergency situation by urging their representatives to vote against this dangerous bill," Marcavage concluded.
Repent America is currently challenging the unconstitutional manner in which Pennsylvania's hate crimes law was passed. This case is expected to head to trial later this year.
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