ADL PRESENTS 'ACTION AGENDA' TO CONFRONT CHURCH ARSONS
TO THE CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS
Washington, D.C., June 20, 1996...In testimony before the
Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), the Anti- Defamation League (ADL) today
outlined an Action Agenda of policy recommendations for Congress and the
Administration to use in confronting the recent series of church arsons.
"An attack on a house of worship is much more than destruction of
wood, brick, and mortar," said Lesley Israel, Chair of the ADL Washington
Affairs Committee and a member of the ADL National Commission. "The
destruction of a house of worship because of its religious character leaves
all affected community members feeling isolated, vulnerable, and unprotected
by the law.
"In our opinion," said Ms. Israel, "the intentional destruction
of a house of worship because of the religious character of that property
is exactly the sort of heinous crime which warrants priority attention."
Ms. Israel described a range of ADL actions in confronting the series of
arsons, including: urging investigations by the Justice Department; assisting
victims in local communities through the League's regional offices; a joint
initiative with the National Urban League to help rebuild burnt churches;
organizing security conferences and community-wide coordinating sessions
on the arsons; supporting Congressional initiatives to facilitate Federal
investigations and prosecutions in these cases, and reviewing existing hate
crime statutes in the affected states to determine if they need to be supplemented,
updated, or revised. Statutes based on ADL model legislation are now law
in over thirty states.
The League's Action Agenda recommendations included:
*Enactment of legislation to provide a permanent mandate for the Hate Crime
Statistics Act (HCSA)
*Increased funding for the Justice Department's Community Relations Service
*Vigorous enforcement of existing hate crime statutes
*Promotion of hate crime training initiatives for Federal law enforcement
*A challenge to politicians and civic leaders not to engage in divisive
appeals based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.