DO SOME BIBLICAL PASSAGES QUALIFY AS HATE LITERATURE? IF
SO, UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES?
Two well publicized court decisions -- one during 2002 in Saskatchewan,
Canada, and one during 2004 in Idaho -- have ruled that advertisements or
posters can be regarded as hate literature or as "demeaning and degrading"
even though they consist mainly of citations or texts from the Bible. These
courts did not rule that the Bible verses themselves are hate
literature. But they did determine that in certain circumstances,
Bible quotations or citations are not protected religious speech.
The two cases both involved conservative Protestants taking a negative
view of homosexuality: Both cases involved references to Leviticus 20:13.
||In the Canadian case, four Bible verses were cited -- one in Romans,
two in Leviticus and one in 1 Corinthians. They were listed in a
newspaper advertisement taken out by a conservative Christian in
Saskatchewan. Beside the citation was a symbol made up of two male
stick figures holding hands within a circle and a diagonal slash. The
circle and slash is an international symbol indicating that the action
is forbidden. The conservative Christian and the newspaper were both
||In the American case, a conservative Christian objected to his
employers diversity training program which promoted tolerance of gay and
lesbian employees in the workplace. He created some posters which listed
a Bible quotation from Leviticus. It orders that male, sexually active
gays be executed. If the poster were show in in a church, it probably
would have been protected speech. But the employee mounted the posters
in his work cubicle in an attempt to oppose the diversity program. He
was eventually fired from his job. A court ruled that his employer did
not infringing upon his civil rights by terminating him. They determined
that the posters in that environment did not contain protected religious
speech. They determined that the employees religious freedom was not
There is a general belief that Canadian and American citizens are
guaranteed almost complete religious freedom. They are free to believe in
any religion or none. But their freedom to act on their religious beliefs is
not necessarily guaranteed -- particularly if their actions hurt or
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Topics covered in this section:
The text of the ruling by Justice J. Barclay of the Court of
Queen's Bench in "Owens v. Saksatchewan (Human Rights
Commission) QB02511" is online at:
http://www.aloha.net/ and at:
Stuart Shepard, "Court Upholds Firing over Bible Verses,"
Family News in Focus, 2004-JAN-8, at:
Joanne Laucius, "Bible: Decision raises questions about freedom of
speech," Ottawa Citizen, 2001-JUN-29, Front page, at:
Originally written: 2003-MAY-20
Latest update: 2004-JUL-03
Author: B.A. Robinson