Welcome to G3 Weekly—a summary of this week’s top news stories on Christianity and the public square.
This week, the state of Michigan moved to impose prison time for causing another person to “feel” intimidated due to their sexual identity. Ireland banned ministering to women at abortion clinics by establishing “safe access zones” around the facilities. Meanwhile, employees at Google caused the company to back away from an anti-Christian drag show in San Francisco.
Michigan Advances Hate Speech Bill
“Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16).
Lawmakers in Michigan advanced a bill that would criminalize anyone who verbally “intimidates” another person due to their “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.”
The bill, which passed the Michigan House of Representatives last week, would introduce two-year prison sentences and $5,000 penalties for someone who “intimidates” another individual due to their race, religion, sex, disability, or age, as well as their real or perceived practice of homosexuality or transgenderism. The legislation defined the term “intimidate” as any willful conduct which makes another person “feel” threatened.
Penalties enacted by the legislation would increase to five-year prison sentences and $10,000 penalties for those who commit the violation in concert with multiple people, are in possession of a firearm during the violation, or intimidate someone under eighteen years of age.
Democrats maintain slim majorities in both chambers of the Michigan Legislature. Governor Gretchen Whitmer, also a Democrat, was elected last year to a second term.
Other nations in the West have attempted to penalize so-called hate speech, especially in relation to homosexuality and transgenderism. Members of the Canadian Parliament unanimously passed a ban on “conversion therapy” last year, likewise threatening Christians with as many as five years of prison if they attempt to preach the gospel to those in sexual sin.
Ireland Bans Sidewalk Ministry at Abortion Clinics
“Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9).
Ireland unveiled new restrictions on ministering to women who are attempting to secure abortions, contending that “anyone needing a termination of pregnancy” should be able to access abortion “with dignity and privacy.”
The regulations, which will soon be implemented by Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, establish “safe access zones” of 100 meters around clinics and hospitals which perform abortions. Lawmakers approved the creation of the “safe access zones” last summer.
“Nobody should be harassed, insulted, or intimidated in any way, or have their decision to access lawfully available healthcare services subject to attempted unsolicited influence by strangers,” Donnelly said in a statement. “I would also like to acknowledge and thank colleagues particularly in the Department of Justice and the Office of the Attorney General.”
Sidewalk ministry is permitted in the United States, although physical interference with abortion clinics is punishable with federal prison sentences. Canada has meanwhile banned protests, sidewalk ministry, and other forms of interference with women attempting to procure abortions.
Anti-Christian Drag Show at Google Canceled amid Complaints
“Present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness” (Romans 6:13).
Google partially distanced itself from a blasphemous drag event after several hundred employees within the company circulated a petition against the performance.
The technology behemoth was slated to host a drag performer named “Peaches Christ” at a bar in San Francisco for an event open to employees and the public. Staff members noted that the show was removed from an internal company events page after a petition against the performance started to circulate, according to internal communications obtained by CNBC.
“Their provocative and inflammatory artistry is considered a direct affront to the religious beliefs and sensitivities of Christians,” said the petition, which was also seen by the outlet.
Google confirmed that the company will no longer officially recognize the event, although the bar still hosted the performance and employees were able to attend. Chris Pappas, a spokesperson for Google, added that the firm was “very proud” to commemorate “pride month” and that their celebrations “have regularly featured drag artists for many years, including several this year.”