ADL PRESENTS 'ACTION AGENDA' TO CONFRONT CHURCH ARSONS
TO THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
Washington, D.C., June 27, 1996...In testimony submitted to
the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called
for enactment of the Senate-approved Church Arsons Prevention Act and 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 the ADL statement. "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, 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."
The ADL statement describes a range of actions undertaken to confront 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-five 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.