Harry Knox, the director of the Religion and Faith Program at the Human Rights Campaign and one of the leading gay activists in the country tells The Brody File that pastors who speak out against homosexuality have “nothing to fear” if and when the Hate Crimes Bill is passed into law. He also says that those Christians who are pushing that line of thinking are “bearing false witness”.
Knox sat down with The Brody File recently. You can watch his comments above or read the full transcription below:
David Brody: How does the bill then protect these conservative Evangelical pastors from speaking out against homosexuality?
Harry Knox: Well, first of all the First Amendment protects them and then this bill actually reiterates those First Amendment protections in the language of the bill so no one needs to worry about whether or not they’re going to be prosecuted for preaching against homosexuality. That’s just not what this bill is designed to do and so clear are the writers of the bill about that that they’ve included language in it that makes sure that that’s clear.”
David Brody: That language is more about the First Amendment. It’s not specifically against pastors preaching against homosexuality from the pulpit.
Harry Knox: It doesn’t say pastors per se but it really is clear and we don’t want it to be that defined. We want everybody to be in America free to say what they believe is true and if I want to be free to say what I believe which is sometimes offensive to some folks I have to protect everybody else’s right to do the same thing and this bill really does that.
David Brody: If a pastor does let’s say preach against homosexuality from the pulpit and a parishioner goes out and let’s say acts upon that and literally in a court of law starts to talk about well I heard this sermon something along those lines could not a pastor be held potentially responsible at least from a conspiracy standpoint?
Harry Knox: Really he or she could not be. These laws have existed since 1968 to protect based on religion and race and since 1968 no one has had a successful prosecution in this country around speech related issues. So there’s just nothing for people to fear.
David Brody: But there have been some prosecutions so in other words for many of the churches they feel that this may take up time, energy, money to even have to deal with this and some preachers may not speak at all about or against homosexuality from the pulpit for fear of this potential hate crimes law?
Harry Knox: The two or three things that have happened around the entire globe where somebody has been initially prosecuted around speech have not gone against them and people should not be hesitant based on a couple of isolated incidents that have happened that didn’t end up being hurtful in the end. It’s just really a red herring that our opponents have created and frankly they really should be ashamed of themselves. They are bearing false witness. They really are saying something that they know is not true and perpetrating that lie in order to try and keep people like me unsafe onm the streets of America. It’s not just that it’s unfair it’s really just untrue and they really shouldn’t be saying that kind of thing. They’re frightening people when they don’t need to be. This is not going to hurt anyone but it will really help people like me.
David Brody: If a pastor preached a lesson against homosexuality from the pulpit that would in your view would not be considered a hate crime?
Harry Knox: Not by any means
Since The Brody File gives both sides, you can read more about the conservative pastor view <a href="http://www.traditionalvalues.org/modules.php?sid=3606">here</a>.