SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Yehiel “Mark” Kalish, D-Chicago, is sponsoring a measure that would increase penalties for people who commit religion-based hate crimes against members of religious leadership and hate crimes committed in physical places of worship.
“As a Rabbi, I am heartbroken over the recent increase in violence at holy places like synagogues, mosques, and churches,” Kalish said. “We need real-world solutions to solve real-world problems and deterrence is the first step of righting this heinous wrong. Everybody deserves to feel safe and secure in their place of worship without fear of losing their lives or loved ones.”
Kalish sponsored 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. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are 31 known hate groups in Illinois, some of which include Nazi-sympathizers like the Aryan Nations Sadistic Souls and the America First Committee. There are more than 1,000 hate groups nationwide.
“Domestic terrorism is a real threat that we can’t afford to dismiss or take lightly,” Kalish said.
“With the help of law enforcement at all levels of government, we can weed out those who seek self-fulfillment through violence aimed at innocent worshipers.”