SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Diane Pappas, D-Itasca, is combatting religiously-motivated hate crimes by helping enact a new law that increases prison sentences for criminals caught attempting to commit a violent crime in a place of worship.
“Hate groups are a growing problem in America, and the threat they pose to peaceful religious institutions in our community can’t be ignored,” Pappas said. “We need to send a message to all the criminals who want to harm and intimidate churchgoing people that they will not get away with their bigoted crimes.”
Pappas backed 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. The bill received strong bipartisan support, and was recently signed into law by the governor.
“I want to build a stronger Illinois for the next generation, and they deserve to grow up in a community where they can practice their faith without fearing the threat of violence,” Pappas said. “Anyone who thinks they can terrorize people while they pray and get away without consequences is mistaken. It’s time to give the brave men and women in law enforcement the tools they need to keep our churches, mosques, synagogues and other houses of worship free of danger.”