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Mr. Jackson agreed with the White House’s assessment that the measure’s language is too broad. His coalition ran a full-page ad in USA Today last month that said: “Don’t muzzle our pulpits!”

“We believe prosecutors and anti-Christian groups will use loopholes to muzzle the church from speaking out on biblical standards of morality which are shared by most Americans.”

House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, a South Carolinian who leads the House Democratic Faith Working Group, called that sentiment “grossly inaccurate and highly prejudicial.”

“Absolutely nothing in the [bill] in any way constrains the freedom of expression or religion and I — who was born and raised in the parsonage of a fundamentalist Christian church — believe it is wrong to attempt to defeat civil rights legislation based on such a false claim.”

The House in May passed the hate crimes bill — which the homosexual lobbying group Human Rights Campaign called “historic” — by a vote of 237-180.