Pastors Say Sexual Orientation Hate Crimes Law Infringes Upon Rights
By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Metro pastors have raised concern over a law that protects gays and lesbians against hate crimes and said they'll test the federal law before they're silenced in the sanctuary.
The religious leaders said their right to speak out against sin is likely to be challenged by the nation's expanded hate crimes law. That's why they've organized what they're calling a "Rally for Religious Freedom," and they play to take their protest all the way to Washington.
For gays and lesbians, the news was good. President Obama signed a bill last month that adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the federal hate crimes law.
"Just makes sure other people are covered from being targeted from intimidation," said Rev. Scott Jones, Cathedral of Hope.
Jones, an openly gay priest, said the law makes it a federal crime for others to target people like Steven Domer, an Edmond man who was murdered in 2007 because he was gay.
"They had killed this person as an attempt to intimidate and commit violence against an entire group of people," Jones said.
Pastor Paul Blair of the Fairview Baptist Church said there's already laws on the books that protect people from violent crimes.
"It shouldn't matter. We shouldn't create a special class of people and give them special protection," Blair said.
He feels the new law is a new attempt to silence conservatives and Christians who oppose the homosexual lifestyle.
"It doesn't happen the first day, but inch by inch your freedoms are taken away," Blair said.
That's why Blair plans to rally in Washington Monday with others who feel their rights are at risk. They'll speak out on federal property and make it crystal clear they believe homosexuality is a sin.
"We want to set a precedent for pastors. Don't you be intimidated. You can preach the Bible, and you don't have to compromise," Blair said.
Along with Pastor Blair, Pastor Steve Kern of Oklahoma City and Pastor Dan Fisher from Yukon will travel to Washington for the "Rally for Religious Freedom."