September 4, 2018 — New York, NY
AJC saluted unanimous U.S Senate adoption tonight of the Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act of 2018. The House of Representatives overwhelmingly adopted a similar measure in December.
"The increasing attacks and threats against churches, synagogues, and mosques disgrace our nation’s most fundamental values,” said Jason Isaacson, AJC Associate Executive Director for Policy. “This important legislation, which we ask President Trump to sign into law promptly, provides for new and strengthened measures to deter, as well as punish, perpetrators of attacks on religious institutions.”
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 adoption.
According to the latest FBI report, issued in 2017, 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 Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act of 2018 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 and without fear, is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. This important legislation will provide a much-needed sense of comfort and security,” Isaacson said.