President Trump Signs Kustoff Religious Liberties Bill
Washington, D.C. – October 3, 2018 – Congressman David Kustoff (TN-08) today released the following statement on his bill, the Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act of 2017, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump on September 28, 2018.
This law will ensure that individuals who make bomb threats and other credible threats of violence against community religious centers—based on the religious nature of that center—can be prosecuted for committing a hate crime.
Congressman Kustoff said: “Sadly, we have witnessed an alarming number of violent threats toward religious institutions happening all across the country. Jewish Community Centers, churches, and other places of worship are being targeted, deterring members of the community from freely practicing their faith. This law sends the clear message that enough is enough, and we do not tolerate these despicable acts of hatred in our community. I am proud that we are taking the necessary steps to actively protect all Americans regardless of religion or creed.
“Thank you, President Trump, for ensuring America’s faith-based institutions can be safe spaces for all to practice their faith without fear.”
Background: In the past few years, there has been a drastic increase in threats made against religious institutions all across the United States. During this time, places of religious affiliation have suffered arson attacks, vandalism, and bomb threats, all of which have inflicted great fear on communities. The Anti-Defamation League reported in February 2018, that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. skyrocketed by 57 percent between 2016 and 2017, which consisted of 1,986 anti-Semitic attacks. Prior to this law going into effect, violent threats made against community religious centers were not punished as hate crimes under federal law. Individuals who would make these threats only faced a misdemeanor, whereas the law now enforces penalties of up to 3 years imprisonment.