The Texas church burners

They caught the two young men who allegedly burned 10 churches in east Texas.   In their possession was a bunch  of anti-Christian material.  Terry Mattingly asks, why aren’t these arsons considered hate crimes?  One official said they can’t be because the lads targeted various denominations and the membership of the churches they burned were predominately white.   So the crimes were not motivated by hate because, I guess, white Christians cannot be hated.

Hate crimes in Texas flames? » GetReligion.

Why do gays come across better than their Christian critics?

Consider Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank’s account of a rally against the hate-crime bill:

Conservative Christian ministers from across the land, determined to test the bounds of a new law punishing anti-gay hate crimes, assembled outside the Justice Department on Monday to denounce the sin of homosexuality and see whether they would be charged with lawbreaking.

Anything other than sex "between a male and his wedded wife," announced the Rev. Paul Blair, "is a perversion, and the Bible says that homosexuality is in fact an abomination."

No arrest was made.

The Rev. Rick Scarborough, quoting Scripture, listed "homosexual offenders" along with thieves, drunkards, swindlers and idolators as those unwelcome in the kingdom of God. "To fail to call homosexuals to repent of their sin and come to Jesus is the highest form of cowardice and sin," he said.

No charges were filed.

"Had people listened to our plea, there would be tens of thousands of people who had not died of a dreaded disease," contributed the Rev. Jim Garlow. "This breaks our heart to see people die of AIDS."

No hands were cuffed. In fact, the few cops in attendance were paying no attention to the speakers, instead talking among themselves and checking their BlackBerrys.

The evangelical activists had been hoping to provoke arrest, because, as organizer Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission put it, "we'd have standing to challenge the law." But their prayers were not answered. Nobody was arrested, which wasn't surprising: To run afoul of the new law, you need to "plan or prepare for an act of physical violence" or "incite an imminent act of physical violence."

Instead of getting arrested, the ministers got something else: A couple of dozen gay activists, surrounding them with rainbow flags and signs announcing "Gaga for Gay Rights" and "I Am a Love Warrior." By the end, the gay rights activists had taken over the lectern and the sound system and were holding their own news conference denouncing the ministers.

"We're here to say, my love is legit!" announced David Valk, an organizer of the National Equality March for gay rights.

It goes on in this vein, lauding the gays who took over the podium and praising the rental company that let them use the equipment and making fun of the Christians.

Here is my question: Why do the Christian protesters come off so badly, while the gay protesters come across so well? Is it just the bias of the author? Or are the Christian conservatives just being ineffective while the gays know how to protest effectively?

If you commit a crime, don’t hate

The hate crime law has been expanded:

President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed and celebrated hate crime legislation that extends protection to people based on sexual orientation, sealing a long-fought victory to gay advocates. The president spoke of a nation becoming a place where "we're all free to live and love as we see fit."

The new law expands federal hate crimes to include those committed against people because of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. It also loosens limits on when federal law enforcement can intervene and prosecute crimes, amounting to the biggest expansion of the civil-rights era law in decades.

"No one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hands of the person they love," Obama said in East Room reception, surrounded by joyous supporters. "No one in America should be forced to look over their shoulder because of who they are, or because they live with a disability."

Civil rights groups and their Democratic backers on Capitol Hill have tried for a decade to expand the hate crimes law, but fell short because of a lack of coordination between the House and Senate, or opposition from President George W. Bush. This time, the bill got through when Democrats attached it to a must-pass $680 billion defense measure over the protests of Republicans. Obama signed the combined bill in a separate ceremony earlier on Wednesday.

Conservatives have opposed the legislation, arguing that it creates a special class of victims and could serve to silence clergymen or others opposed to homosexuality on religious or philosophical grounds.

As I understand it, this measure means that if someone commits a crime that is motivated by hatred against any of the protected groups, the penalty is increased. It also becomes a federal crime, so that if a local municipality doesn’t prosecute a crime hard enough, the feds can step in. Am I reading this right? How would this potentially silence clergymen from teaching that homosexual intercourse is immoral?

As it stands, Christians, as well as believers in other religions targeted for their faith, would also be a protected group. Might this law be applied to anti-Christian violence and harassment?