Emgage commends the passage of the Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act of 2017 (H.R. 1730), a bill that Emgage has supported, by the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill was adopted by a vote of 402-2, and will expand coverage of federal hate crime laws protecting houses of worship to include religiously affiliated institutions, which will send a strong message of no tolerance for hate crimes against people of faith.
Hate crimes have risen as FBI Hate Crimes Statistics report shows an increase of 4.6 percent in incidents in 2016 compared to 2015. Anti-Muslim incidents rose nearly 20 percent over 2015 alone. Hate crimes infringe upon the Constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.
The bill amends P.L. 104-155, the Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996, expanding it to include religiously affiliated institutions which include schools and community centers. The bill also amends the statute to encompass threats against, as well as acts that result in damage or destruction to religious real property. Furthermore, it enhances the penalty for intentional damage to religious real property from one year to three years, and even higher if there bodily injury to a person resulting from crime.
At a time when hate crimes against Muslims and other minorities in the U.S. are on the rise, Emgage is on the frontlines. We seek to engage, educate and empower American Muslim communities across the nation through educational events, voter initiatives, and leadership development for the purpose of creating a community of equitable, knowledgeable and motivated citizens. For more information or to donate, please visit www.emgageusa.org.