NEW YORK, April 19, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC praised the Senate Judiciary Committee for passing today the Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act of 2018.
"The need for updated, stronger measures to deter, as well as punish, perpetrators of attacks on religious institutions is crystal clear," said Jason Isaacson, AJC Associate Executive Director for Policy. "We urge the full Senate to move quickly to adopt this bill, and President Trump to sign it into law." The House of Representatives overwhelmingly adopted a similar measure in December.
AJC thanked Senator Orrin Hatch, former chair of the Judiciary Committee, and Ranking Member Senator Diane Feinstein for their leadership in shepherding the legislation to its unanimous adoption.
According to the latest FBI report, hate crimes increased by 4.6 percent in 2016 compared to 2015. Anti-Jewish incidents continue to account for the majority of religious-based hate crimes, while incidents targeting Muslims rose nearly 20 percent over 2015.
The new legislation builds on the Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996, expanding it to include religiously-affiliated institutions, such as schools and community centers, in addition to houses of worship. It clarifies that threats against, as well as acts that result in damage or destruction of religious institutions property are covered.
"Freedom to exercise religion, to practice one's faith unhindered, without fear, is enshrined in the US. Constitution. This important legislation will provide a much-needed sense of comfort and security," Isaacson said.
SOURCE American Jewish Committee