Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Betting with Barber

With the passage of the new hate crimes bill, which Obama will sign soon, the religious right is turning up the “they’re going to arrest pastors for condemning homosexuality” volume to a Spinal Tap-like 11. The American Family Association declares that Christians are on “high alert” because of the passage of this legislation. And Matt “Bam Bam” Barber has his rhetoric cranked up too:

And as for pastors? “There is a very weak exemption in [the bill] which is totally illusory, and a religious exemption is not going to protect pastors,” responds Barber. “Renegade prosecutors and politically correct leftists in positions of authority can subjectively determine what is or is not a hate crime.” And then move on to prosecution, he adds.

I’ll like to propose a wager for Matt Barber and any other religious right leader who has been preaching incessantly that the hate crimes bill — which I’m no big fan of, for entirely different reasons — will lead to the arrest and prosecution of people just for speaking out against homosexuality. The wager would go like this:

I am willing to bet that not a single minister will be convicted in this country under the hate crimes legislation for preaching against homosexuality. And since we can’t have such bet be open-ended, here are my proposed terms. We start with $100 for the first year. At the end of the first year, if someone has been convicted of such a “crime” I’ll pay up. If not, you can either up or go double or nothing on the second year.

Every year that goes by without such a conviction, the amount of the bet doubles. You can bail out at any time, admit that you were wrong and pay the accumulated money owed. And if, at any time, someone is convicted merely of speaking out against homosexuality in this country, I pay up whatever amount of money is currently on the line based on the above formula. At the end of ten years, the loser pays up and the bet is concluded.

And if I win, you can pay the money to a charity of my choice. If you win, you can keep the money. Deal?