ADL Welcomes House Committee Approval of Legislation to Protect Religious Institutions Against Threats

New York, NY, November 2, 2017 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today applauded House Judiciary Committee approval of bipartisan legislation which would expand existing federal law to include threats against religious institutions – including houses of worship, Jewish community centers and Jewish day schools. The Senate is also considering a version of this legislation, titled “The Protecting Religiously-Affiliated Institutions Act of 2017.”

Marvin D. Nathan, ADL National Chair, issued the following statement:

We welcome House Judiciary Committee approval of this legislation, which occurs on a day ADL is documenting a significant increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017. This legislation was prompted, in part, by a series of more than 150 bomb threats earlier this year against synagogues, ADL offices, Jewish community centers and Jewish day schools in more than three dozen states.

In April, the League welcomed federal criminal charges against the Israeli-American alleged perpetrator of many of these bomb threats – and we and our broad coalition of civil rights, religious, education, and professional organizations have called on the administration and the Justice Department to act on a wide range of additional legal, policy, and hate crime training and prevention initiatives.

This important legislation will help ensure the First Amendment ideal that every American should be able to practice their religious beliefs freely and safely. Enactment of this legislation, which amends the Church Arson Prevention Act, will make clear that threats against synagogues, JCCs, mosques and other religiously affiliated institutions can be investigated and punished appropriately. 

According to the FBI’s most recent Hate Crime Statistics Act report, religion-based hate crimes increased 23 percent in 2015, from 1,014 in 2014 to 1,244. Overall, 21.3 percent of all reported hate crimes were motivated by religious bias – the highest proportion of total hate crimes in the 25-year history of the HCSA.

Crimes directed against Jews increased nine percent and reported hate crimes against Muslims increased 67 percent, from 154 in 2014 to 257 in 2015. The number of reported anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2015 was, in fact, the second most reported against Muslims ever – second only to the series of backlash crimes in 2001, after the 9/11 terrorist incidents.

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