Yesterday I attended a panel hosted by the Arab American Institute entitled “Combatting the Trend of Hate: A Discussion on Recent Hate Incidents.”
Represented on the panel were organizations that are working tirelessly to address the rise in hate incidents in the United States, including Muslim Advocates, Southern Poverty Law Center and the Sikh Coalition.
As an organizer with Americans United, I think a lot about how hate crimes and hate speech are deeply impactful for those who subscribe to minority religions in the United States.
On Friday, The Washington Post reported that the U.S. Department of Education will begin collecting data this year to track religiously motivated discrimination or bullying allegations from students.
“Students of all religions should feel safe, welcome and valued in our nation’s schools,” Catherine E. Lhamon, the department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, said in an announcement.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden visited relatives of the Orlando dead yesterday. While they paid their respects, however, some Christian fundamentalists chose to celebrate the massacre.
It's no secret that I'm not a fan of the Religious Right. Through my work at Americans United, I've opposed this movement for 22 years and have written three books challenging the Religious Right's perspective.
I don't believe that everyone who holds Religious Right views is a bad person. But I would be remiss in my duties if I failed to point out that, increasingly, many in the Religious Right are telling big, fat, honking lies. This is a shame, because it makes it impossible to have a civil exchange of views in the public arena.
Legislation that would target hate crimes is expected to start moving in Congress soon. The Religious Right is going bananas.
The legislation, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 (H.R. 1913), is intended to do a few key things: It would allow the U.S. Justice Department to offer assistance when a crime that results in death or serious injury is committed against any American because of the victim's race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.