The notion of a ‘hate’ crime is, by Christian standards, an absurdity. It supposes that some motivations to commit crime are worse than others —that somehow to kill someone because I hate them, rather than because I simply desire what they possess, is more culpable.
Oddly enough, the desire to distinguish ‘hate crimes’ comes largely, it would seem, from those who would identify themselves as the ‘Liberal Left’. One only has to look at the objects of concern for protection against so-called ‘hate’ crimes to recognize the agenda —races, religious groups (though in intention, not Christians), the disabled, and gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual people.
This reflects the unfortunate tendency of the political Left to destroy what it seeks to conserve. Those on the Left regard themselves as seeking the betterment of humanity (and I would not question the sincerity of their intention). But they also regard themselves as best-equipped to decide what a better humanity should look like.
Thus, in seeking to improve the rest of us, they must, necessarily, take away our freedom. And they do it with good intentions. One often hears (particularly from the religious Left) the quote from Queen Elizabeth I, ‘I have no wish to make windows into men’s souls.’ Yet windows into our souls are precisely what the Left must make if they are to redeem humanity.
At the same time, however, the Left does not really believe we have souls. Crime, for them, has primarily a sociological cause —poverty, lack of education and opportunity, and so on. The remedy for crime is thus to change society or to change the criminal. Resources must thus be directed towards ‘crime ridden’ areas and those who commit crimes must be re-educated.
But, according to this view, some behaviours go beyond ‘crime’. They stem, rather, from a deep antagonism to those values, and those people, who are at the forefront of the Left’s agenda. Thus what we have here is not ‘crime’ —a behaviour to be modified —but ‘hate crime’: an attitude to be eradicated.
The Christian, however, sees all crime springing from the same source: what Jesus called the ‘heart’. Moreover, Jesus taught us that action and intention are as one. To lust after a woman, or to despise one’s brother are the same, morally and consequentially, as adultery and murder. Both will lead to hell, and both are sins, though not all are crimes.
The Christian attitude to justice, however, is that we cannot and must not judge a mere intention, since no witnesses can be called to give evidence of a person’s mere thoughts. At the same time, though, we teach that the intention is subject to the most intense judgement and the severest penalty. The Christian thus goes far beyond the religious generally and the unbeliever particularly.
However, for the same reason, the Christian regards no crime as being worse than another in terms of motivation. Hate is not worse than selfishness, greed, pride, anger, laziness or indifference to others, for all these things flow ‘out of the heart’.
We should make no mistake. ‘Hate crime’ is a philosophical view, arising out of a particular world-view and with a deliberate intention to conform people to that view, and it cuts across Christianity. Believing that Christianity is the truth, I must therefore oppose the notion of ‘hate crime’. Indeed, I must hate it!
Revd John P Richardson
26 November 2007