|The Criminalization of Christianity
16 February 2005
CBN.com – It is a story that has the Christian community on the edge of its seat. In Philadelphia, 11 Christians were arrested and charged under Pennsylvania’s hate crimes law (the Ethnic Intimidation Act), for preaching the Gospel. The arrests took place at a homosexual event last October, and five of the 11 still face serious criminal charges.
Twenty-five-year-old Michael Marcavage is at the center of a case that could determine whether preaching the Gospel is a hate crime; specifically, whether preaching against homosexuality is a hate crime.
Marcavage, who has a ministry called Repent America, and 10 other Christians, took their message "Homosexuality is sin, Christ can set you free" to Outfest, Philadelphia's annual gay "coming out" celebration, last October.
The video of the event shows the Christians being surrounded by an aggressive homosexual security force that was holding giant pink styrofoam angels and blowing loud whistles.
Marcavage's lawyer, Scott Shields, says the video is key to their defense.
Shields said, “Because a picture tells a thousand words, it shows exactly what happened and when the Christians appeared at this event. Michael Marcavage and the other defendants were met by this hostile, lawless mob -- and they really were. They had these gigantic, pink styrofoam boards to block their written messages, and they were blowing these obnoxious whistles, and when you see the whole video, you can tell that the police are just getting very tired of hearing all of this noise. And the only way to stop that wasn't to tell them to stop and put down their pink boards and put their whistles away. They arrested our clients.”
Marcavage is seen on the video questioning police about his First Amendment rights. Later, he and the others are led away from the crowd, handcuffed, and put into a paddy wagon and taken to jail. Once behind bars, Marcavage discovered just how serious the charges were: three felonies and five misdemeanors. The felonies include: ethnic intimidation and inciting a riot found under Pennsylvania’s hate crimes law. The charges could mean 47 years in prison, if convicted.
Marcavage said, “Well, it was absolutely astonishing. I had no idea that I would be one of the first victims in our nation to be charged under hate crimes legislation, which I see as the criminalization of Christianity. When you look at the target audience of these hate laws, it is the Christians -- they want to silence our message."
By Wendy Griffith - CWNews
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