On Oct. 10th, 11 evangelical Christians were arrested as "hate criminals" for peacefully singing and preaching at a gay pride event. Since then the world has been awaiting the outcome of their preliminary hearing, held Dec. 14th. Would the state be content with a reprimand, or vigorously pursue enforcement of Pennsylvania's "anti hate" law?
Here's what happened in court on Dec. 14th, as described by Michael Marcavage, leader of the "Philadelphia Eleven" arrested Christians, to Rev. Ted Pike, Director of the National Prayer Network.
The preliminary hearing began with testimony by Chief of Police Tiano that defendants jeopardized the safety of those gathered at "Outfest", a homosexual rally. He asserted that their inflammatory language tended to incite the resulting riot of about 500 sodomite attendees. Such language, he contended, constitutes "reckless endangerment" of another person.
The District Attorney, Charles Ehrlich, was extremely aggressive, even passionate, in his case against the arrested Christians. The liberal judge, William Meeham, allowed him to portray their demeanor as bigoted and hateful, citing instances from other sodomite events attended by the defendants. Extensive video footage of the Christians preaching before their arrest was viewed by the court. No evidence of illegal activity was apparent. On the other hand, Ehrlich emphasized that biblical threats of hell on sodomites constituted a threat to their safety. He also asserted that Michael Marcavage's use of a bullhorn constituted a "weapon of reckless endangerment."
Under "anti-intimidation" laws, now in place in 47 states, "bias" must be coupled with a crime in order to become a "hate crime." Because Marcavage clearly was biased and used a bullhorn as his "weapon of threat," District Attorney Ehrlich made a case for full prosecution of Marcavage, in particular, as one guilty of "ethnic intimidation," or violation of Pennsylvania's "anti-hate" law.
Accordingly, Judge Meeham ruled that Marcavage be prosecuted under all eight original charges, which include three felonies and five misdemeanors. All women defendants were excused, as well as an elderly man and a teenager. Three other men, Mark Diener, Dennis Green, and James Cruse, will be prosecuted. However, they are charged with "conspiracy to commit ethnic intimidation" rather than "ethnic intimidation," a felony. In addition, the four remaining defendants are banned from going within 100' of any homosexual or lesbian event in Philadelphia.
On Jan. 5th, Judge Meeham will probably set the date for a jury trial. If convicted, Michael Marcavage, 25, could face up to 47 years in prison.
The "Philadelphia Eleven's" attorney, Scott Shield, said, "The message of this court is that if you preach from Scripture, it is a hate crime."
For more information on this case visit www.repentamerica.com, or call 1-800-3-repent.
Rev. Ted Pike, Director of National Prayer Network, is a leading authority on "hate crimes" legislation. His website www.hatelawsexposed.org is the world's primary resource center for information on the philosophy and objectives of "anti-hate" laws.
For radio or TV interview with Rev. Pike, call (503) 631-3808.
National Prayer Network
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