As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on hate-crimes legislation, Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council ratched up their efforts to undermine religious freedom and to treat violent crimes more leniently when they are intentionally committed against LGBT persons.

As Truth Wins Out has previously reported, Senate Bill 909, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, clearly states:

Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of, the First Amendment to the Constitution.

The legislation does not create a new class of crimes, but rather adds sexual orientation and gender identity to pre-existing federal law that punishes violent felonies committed on the basis of the victim’s race or religion. Excluding sexual orientation from existing law results in antigay hate crimes being punished more leniently than the same crimes committed against victims on the basis of race or religion.

Here’s the Family Research Council, lying about the hate-crimes legislation’s protections for religious speech:

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Here’s Focus on the Family telling nearly identical lies:

The “hate-crimes” bill, being considered as an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill, would create a new class of crimes based on a victim’s “actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.” And, pastors who preach against homosexuality could end up prosecuted if they are found to have “induced” a hate-crime against a self-identified homosexual by preaching from the Bible.

Focus on the Family lies about the continuing rise in antigay hate crimes:

“The latest numbers from the FBI from 2007 show us there’s no dramatic increase in hate crimes across the country — and, specifically, no dramatic increase over the years in sexual-orientation hate crimes, either in raw numbers or percentages,” Horne said. “So, this bill is a solution looking for a problem.”

That’ untrue: While overall hate-crime violence declined in 2007, according to the FBI, antigay hate crimes rose six percent. (Source: USA Today.) The FBI says that violent antigay hate crimes have been occurring with growing frequency since 2005.

The Senate legislation is restricted to violent felonies. Focus on the Family falsely claims that similar laws have been used to punish speech.

Focus and FRC appear committed to undermining religious freedom by lying about federal laws that clearly protect religious liberty, and by favoring inequitable punishment for violent crime.