The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to establish a broader definition of antisemitism for the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) to enforce anti-discrimination laws.

The legislation is titled the Antisemitism Awareness Act of 2023 (H.R. 6090).

“The proposal, which passed 320-91 with some bipartisan support, would codify the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal anti-discrimination law that bars discrimination based on shared ancestry, ethnic characteristics or national origin,” The AP reports.

According to an official summary of the bill,

The bill provides statutory authority for the requirement that the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights take into consideration the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA’s) working definition of antisemitism when reviewing or investigating complaints of discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. According to the IHRA’s working definition, antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.

The bill was supported by 187 Republicans and 133 Democrats, while 21 Republicans and 70 Democrats opposed the legislation.

Antisemitism is evil and should never be tolerated. But critics of H.R. 6090 argue that the legislation violates the First Amendment and could empower the federal government to target Christians.

For example, The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) uses a definition of antisemitism that could criminalize Christian speech.

IHRA gives an example of antisemitism which includes: “Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.”

Of course, Christians believe that we are all guilty for Jesus Christ’s death. But it is also the teaching of Scripture that first century Jewish people called for the death of Jesus, with the Romans, under Pontius Pilate, carrying out His crucifixion.

1 Thessalonians 2:14-15 says, “For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind” (ESV).

One Christian, conservative organization that has expressed concerns with H.R. 6090 is Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

The antisemitism surfacing on college campuses is repugnant. But while vile speech should be condemned, the First Amendment protects everyone’s speech. The antidote for bad speech is good speech, not government censorship,” said ADF President Kristen Waggoner.

She pointed out that vague and ambiguous hate speech laws – like the one the House just passed – “have repeatedly been weaponized against ADF clients around the world.”

You can read the rest of her post below:

Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said on an episode of “The Briefing” that the law will be used to target Christians.

“According to this definition, the Gospel of John would be considered anti-Semitic,” Mohler said. “[The law will be] used and abused by the cultural left in the name of fighting anti-Semitism, when quite frankly, it is going to be an instrument to be used against Christian preaching.”

Additionally, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), a First Amendment advocacy organization, called the bill tantamount to “viewpoint discrimination.”

Nowhere else in First Amendment law does it say that you can criticize a certain country up to a certain limit, or else you might risk violating federal anti-discrimination law. … The First Amendment allows individuals to criticize every country in the world, including our own.

Conservative Rep. Chip Roy, Tx., released a statement on the bill, arguing it did not go through the House’s regular process before being brought before the full House for a vote.

“The bill put before us today did not have a full committee hearing or a markup, which could have addressed some of the concerns many of my colleagues and I have with the potential implications of the underlying language,” Rep. Roy said.

“For example, the definition of ‘anti-Semitism’ used by this bill was created by an international organization and includes certain examples that pose First Amendment concerns.”

He added:

The House should never airdrop bills on the floor without adequate time for regular order, deliberation, and amendments — unfortunately that’s the way the House has been doing business since last fall.

This bill also simply doesn’t go far enough. It is not good enough to merely ask the Department of Education to consider a definition of anti-Semitism in discrimination investigations; rather, we should cut off taxpayer funding to the supposedly ‘elite’ institutions that are poisoning the minds of our children and propagating this despicable behavior.

It’s unclear whether H.R. 6090 will pass through the U.S. Senate, or whether President Biden would sign it into law.

Antisemitism is an evil ideology, and it deserves no harbor on our nation’s college campuses. But our nation’s representatives should think long and hard before enacting legislation that potentially undermines the First Amendment and criminalizes Christian speech.

Related articles and resources:

The American Flag, Frat Boys, and the Nation’s Hunger for Courage

College Faculty Voice Support for Antisemitic Protests

A Stunning Contrast of Two University Lawns: Liberty & Columbia, Light vs Darkness

Jewish Students Urged to Flee Columbia University Following Antisemitic Protest

Campus Protests Expose Antisemitic Rot in Academia

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