SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Criminals who target houses of worship for religiously motivated attacks will face tougher penalties under legislation passed by state Rep. John Connor, D-Lockport, addressing the alarming rise in hate crimes.
“This country was founded by groups fleeing religious persecution and oppression,” Connor said. “The spread of violence against our places of worship has to be met with unity and resolve, a religious house should always be a sanctuary. To enter one armed with the intent to harm those within because of how they worship or where they come from is contrary to the religious freedom our country was founded upon.”
Connor is backing House Bill 38, which strengthens sentences for a murder committed in a church, mosque, synagogue or other place of worship. Additionally, injuring a person in a religious institution will now carry a punishment of up to 15 years in prison, and carrying a gun or other weapon into a house of worship with the goal of harming someone will carry a punishment of up to seven years in prison.
“People still come to this country fleeing persecution and oppression, because of the principle of freedom of worship our country was founded on,” Connor said. “People need to feel secure sharing community with people of the same faith. When criminals take that security away, it has a destabilizing effect on everyone involved, and every community feels it.”