In the midst of rising violence and expressions of hatred, particularly toward Jewish and Muslim communities in the U.S. in the wake of conflict in the Middle East,  the state House of Representatives on Tuesday passed three bills to strengthen the Commonwealth’s hate crime laws. Supported by votes from both parties, these bills now head to the Senate. Additionally, the House passed HB1772, increasing funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant program.  

LAMPa is part of the PA Coalition Against Hate, which has worked with Rep. Dan Frankel on hate crimes legislation since 2018, in the aftermath of the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh. Since then, people of faith, LGBTQ+ organizations, Anto-Defamation Leagues, and the PA Human Relations Commission have all voiced their support of this legislation.  

The FBI’s most recent report on hate crimes revealed not only a decade high in the number of crimes committed, but that offenses were more violent than in previous years .The PA HRC released their annual report earlier this year, citing that hate crimes in PA doubled from 2019 to 2020, and that in 2021 Pennsylvania had “the highest incidents of white supremacist propaganda distribution of any state in the country.” With incidents of both Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia on the rise in recent weeks in response to the Israel-Hamas War, legislation that holds offenders of violent hate crimes responsible, and give victims and their loved ones increased support and resources is even more crucial.  

HB1027 would strengthen Pennsylvania’s “ethnic intimidation” criminal penalty language and step up civil penalties on those who target individuals or groups because of their race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or disability of an individual or group of individuals. It would also provide tools to fight civil rights violations such as preliminary and permanent injunctive relief against continued violators and people who solicit or provide aid to such violators. 

To see how your representative voted, check here, and then send them a thank you note if they voted “Yes.”

HB1024 would provide Pennsylvania’s law enforcement with the training they need to properly investigate, identify and report crimes of ethnic intimidation. 

To see how your representative voted, check here, and then send them a thank you note if they voted “Yes.”

HB1025 would require schools and postsecondary institutions to offer online and anonymous hate crime reporting options for students and employees. It will also encourage training for school employees in identifying and addressing hate incidents.  

To see how your representative voted, check here, and then send them a thank you note if they voted “Yes.” 

Follow LAMPa’s Action Alert to voice your support of these bills to your senator, and encourage them to also stand up against hate.  

For ELCA social teaching that call us to treat all persons with dignity and respect, and to stand against hate, see the following: Social Statement on Race, Ethnicity, and Culture; Social Statement on Human Sexuality; Social Message on Community Violence.   

Bishop Elizabeth Eaton recently released a video statement in response to rising violence and hatred toward Jewish, Palestinian, and Muslim communities in the United States. She encourages Lutherans to “raise awareness in our congregations and communities about countering hate, discrimination and bias, and offer a swift and clear response to hate speech bigotry and violence when it occurs.” Pennsylvania Lutherans can respond to this call by adding your voice and support for robust hate crime legislation.