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Congressman David Kustoff

Representing the 8th District of Tennessee

Kustoff, Kilmer Praise Committee Passage of their Bill to Protect Religious Institutions

November 2, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representatives David Kustoff (R-TN) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA) today applauded House Judiciary Committee passage of bipartisan legislation that will increase the federal penalties for bomb threats and other credible threats of violence against religious institutions. The Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act of 2017, introduced by Kustoff and Kilmer in March, will also amend the Church Arson Prevention Act to ensure that acts of violence against religious centers can be prosecuted as a hate crime.

“Religious tolerance is the bedrock on which our great nation was founded,” said Kustoff. “We must stand united against acts of hate and protect the rights of all Americans to worship freely and without fear. This bipartisan bill strengthens federal criminal statutes to prevent threats made against any religious institution, while preserving our First Amendment rights. I am proud that this important legislation was voted favorably out of the Judiciary Committee and look forward to its consideration in the full House.”

“Too many religious community centers have locked down their facilities and called in bombs squads,” said Kilmer. “No American should be fearful of being targeted because of the faith they follow. I’m glad to see our bipartisan bill move forward to ensure America remains a beacon of tolerance.”   

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) also applauded today’s Committee approval of the Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act.

“Freedom of religion is a core American value and is to be protected,” said Goodlatte. “All Americans have a constitutional right to practice their religious beliefs openly and without fear of persecution. Sadly, we have witnessed many threats and acts of violence against religious institutions and centers and we must ensure our laws appropriately punish those seeking to intimidate people of faith. The Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act contains news prosecutorial tools to deter acts of hate and violence toward religious institutions so that freedom of religion continues to flourish in America. I thank Congressman Kustoff for his work on this bipartisan bill and urge the House to vote on it soon.”

The Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act of 2017 has broad, bipartisan support and was originally co-sponsored by U.S. Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Joseph P. Kennedy, III (D-MA). The bill is cosponsored by an additional 34 bipartisan members. 

Click here for bill text.