Hell, Hate, and the Peril of Christian Witness

A few years ago, a friend of mine got in trouble. This time, my friend got in trouble for doing the right thing.

In solidarity with his union brothers, my friend was walking a picket line because the company he was working for had been taking advantage of employees. My friend was enjoying conversation with his colleagues talking about a number of items in the news, talking about the weather, about fishing, and traffic.

Death Life Christian Witness Card My friend cared for his colleagues, and so he explained to them the gospel. To make his explanation clear, he used a simple, two-sided tract called Life or Death. The tract was the size of a business card and had the word “Death” written in such an ornate and elaborate way that any calligrapher would have coveted the skill of its artist.

Death” was the beginning point—and the bad news. The card was designed in such a way that all my friend had to do was flip it around and the word which had looked like “Death” now appeared to say “Life.” From the simple flip from death to life, he shared the gospel message of John 3:16.

The workers hearing the gospel message gave it little merit. They held their tongues and kept their death, but not without recourse. They quietly filed a grievance with the union and filed charges against my friend for making “Death” threats against them.

At the time, I thought the entire affair was ludicrous. As it turns out, it was portentous, an ominous sign of things to come. Earlier this week, another

Baptist hate crime hell norfolk attleborough

Source: Steynonline

harbinger of hate crimes to come arose from Great Britain. Mark Steyn tells the story of one Robert Gladwin, a twenty-year old peace-loving, uber-tolerant Brit who simply could not tolerate the sign posted by the Attleborough Baptist Church.

The church sign featured an 8.5 x 11 color flyer with flames coming up from the bottom. The words of the sign read: “If you think there is no God, you’d better be right.” Death, judgment, and hell were not mentioned, but certainly implied. Steyn’s piece makes the excellent contrast between this rather benign flyer and the often seen (and protected) signs of Muslims in London: “Behead those who insult Islam.”

Still, the twenty year-old Gladwin was offended enough to report the crime to the police, who quickly launched a hate crimes investigation against the church. The pastor of the church, John Rose, removed the sign as a result of the investigation and replaced it (unfortunately) with a sign featuring the message “God loves you” with a meerkat saying “Simples” in a floating speech bubble overhead.

Christians must be clear on the gospel message as never before. Any number of issues—Hell perhaps preeminently—will become intolerable hate speech in the days to come. The simple message of eternal life in Christ for those who believe may easily be reinterpreted as a death threat by those who reject the Lord.

None of this is new, really. Christ told His followers from the beginning,

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.”

Hate Crimes Are Hateful

I suppose for some I may be auditioning for the “Knuckle-dragging, out-of-touch” Award with the comment I am about to make, but I am going to say it anyway.  Hate crimes legislation is stupid.  If kidnapping, rape, and murder are awful evils in and of themselves, then justice will be served when the criminals who perpetrate these crimes are punished.  What good is it to add the obvious statement that these things are hateful?

The truth of the matter is that hate crimes are hateful.  I mean that.  Hate crimes hate certain people and certain ways of thinking.  Therefore, hate crimes are motivated by hate.  People who hate this thought or that thought pass laws so that you are branded and punished more severely if you think hateful thoughts while you are doing hateful things.  (Some bureaucrat or judge gets to decide what is hateful and what is not.  Remember, all of us hate someone, even though we know hating others is wrong).

Hating Jews is wrong.  Hating blacks is wrong.  Hating lesbians is wrong.  Hating Christians is wrong.  Hating is wrong.  But it is NOT criminal.  Criminal actions enter in when action takes place.  I don’t want a judge deciding what I can and cannot think.  If I murder, I do want a judge to execute justice on behalf of all humankind.

I read this particular article today from the Louisville Courier Journal, and it really frustrated me.  In the article, the writer bemoans the fact that someone was convicted of murder but not convicted of a hateful murder (a hate crimes murder).  Is murder not hateful enough?  Does the silly judge think this was somehow a “loving” murder?  What murder is anything but hateful?  The judge, in fact, whimpers and whines because Kentucky’s law does not go far enough.  Oh, if only the law would go further, the jury could “enhance the defendant’s penalty.”

Think about that.  The defendant is convicted of murder, but there is no hate crime to make it really bad—no way to make his penalty worse.  Shouldn’t we have the toughest penalties for those convicted of murder?  I, for one, believe that anyone who murders another should forfeit his own life.  (If you live in Eastern Kentucky, that means I believe in the death penalty ; -).  according to the article, the legislature must act to fix this awful problem of convicting murderers but not getting to really punish them for the hateful thoughts that may have motivated them.

This nonsense has 1 purpose: to police your thoughts.  It does not protect the value of any race or group of people (particularly Christians who are almost never mentioned in hate crimes legislation.  Indeed, often it is the case that the hate crimes are passed to prevent Christians from preaching the truth that Jesus Christ saves homosexuals and washes them and presents them, along with other sinners, to the Father, as His bride—the church).

I say it does not protect the value of anyone for this reason.  In the case mentioned, a woman was brutally murdered.  A man was convicted of her murder.  The best thing to uphold the value of that woman’s life would be for this criminal to forfeit his own.  Barring that, the second best thing would be for him to forfeit the remainder of his life on this earth to prison.  One of the worst things that could happen is that the murder conviction get swept away by some supposedly worse charge of hatefulness.  I don’t know, and I don’t care whether this murderer hated black people or not.  Even if he did (and that might be hard to prove), his hating black persons is not in any way comparable to his murdering this particular black woman.  His crime was so awful that he should have to pay for it with his own life.  Taking attention off of that fact diminishes the value of all human life in general, and the life of Ms. Griffin in particular.  Her life was valuable because she was created in the image of God.

Costly Free Speech

Looks like the day has finally come.  The U.S. Senate has approved federal “Hate Crimes” legislation and sent it on to the President, who has pledged to sign the bill into law.  There are so many problems with this bill, not the least of which is the cowardly, specious manner in which it was passed as an addendum to the national defense bill.  (What does policing citizen thoughts have to do with financing the military?) 

Nevertheless, the bill is written, and, as this article rightly forecasts, will be used against pastors who preach and teach the truth concerning homosexuality.  There is no need to make a slippery slope argument; the point of hate crimes legislation is clear: silence the free speech rights of those who oppose.  These bills clearly seek to police thoughts of all citizens against a protected political class.  The article points to a case in Canada, but there are other cases, too.  Check out the case of Pastor Ake Green.

Dark Day Unnoticed

On this Columbus Day, an insidious and cowardly contingent in Congress has speciously passed a defense funding bill with an attachment to it concerning “hate speech.”  On numerous blogs prior to this one, I have sought to disclose reasons to be suspicious of hate crimes legislation.  Hate crimes change the nature of criminal activity and, essentially, causes political power–not truth–to become the basis on which morality (and speech) is based.

Now, the House of Representatives have voted to attach hate crimes legislation to a defense spending bill; this is cowardly, insidious, and specious.  Such a fundamental shift in the definition of a crime ought to be debated publicly and openly and reasonably.  The bill will now go to the Senate, then to President Obama’s desk.  There will not be any promised transparency in any of this; there will simply be a quiet acquiescence of liberty.  Particularly, if you hold a position of support for traditional marriage, you may become a criminal for your thoughts.

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission has broken this issue down politically.  I encourage you to visit their page here to see whether your representative voted to support this dubious enterprise in Congress.  You can also click here to contact your senators before they vote.

Tracking Church Crimes

The so-called “hate crimes” laws being considered in Congress and around the country pretend to be concerned about groups that have historically been targeted for crimes.  Oddly enough, the list always includes homosexuals, even though it has not been proven that there systemic efforts of violence toward that group.  Even more odd is the fact that the military and Christians are never on the list of protected groups, although there have been organized and persistent attacks against both of these groups.  Now, I don’t think we ought to have hate laws at all.  They are political power plays to silence groups, not protect them.  Yet, if we were going to be “fair” minded, then fairness would demand that we include Christians in the list of those being targeted for hate crimes.  If you don’t believe me, see here.