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104th Congress Report
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
2d Session 104-621
CHURCH ARSON PREVENTION ACT OF 1996
June 17, 1996.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the
State of the Union and ordered to be printed
Mr. Hyde, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany H.R. 3525]
[Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]
The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the
bill (H.R. 3525) to amend title 18, United States Code, to
clarify the Federal jurisdiction over offenses relating to
damage to religious property, having considered the same,
report favorably thereon with an amendment and recommend that
the bill as amended do pass.
The Amendment.................................................... 1
Purpose and Summary.............................................. 2
Background and Need for Legislation.............................. 2
Committee Consideration.......................................... 5
Vote of the Committee............................................ 5
Committee Oversight Findings..................................... 5
Committee on Government Reform and Oversight Findings............ 5
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures........................ 5
Congressional Budget Office Estimate............................. 6
Inflationary Impact Statement.................................... 6
Section-by-Section Analysis and Discussion....................... 6
Agency Views..................................................... 8
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............ 11
The amendment is as follows:
Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu
thereof the following:
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Church Arson Prevention Act of
SEC. 2. DAMAGE TO RELIGIOUS PROPERTY.
Section 247 of title 18, United States Code, is amended--
(1) so that subsection (b) reads as follows:
``(b) The circumstances referred to in subsection (a) are that the
offense is in or affects interstate or foreign commerce.''; and
(2) in subsection (a)(1), by inserting ``, racial, or
ethnic'' before ``character''.
Purpose and Summary
The Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996 amends section 247
of Title 18, United States Code, in three important ways.
First, it eliminates the $10,000 dollar minimum damage
requirement in current law. This change will make it easier to
prosecute incidents of defacement and desecration, where the
value of physical damage to the religious property is small.
The Committee found that a minimum dollar amount is not
necessary to justify Federal involvement in these cases.
Second, H.R. 3525 provides that if religious real property
is damaged because of the racial or ethnic character of the
property, it will be a violation of the statute. Current law
requires that the damage be caused only because of the
religious character of the property. Section 247, as amended by
H.R. 3525, will firmly reach any attack of a church that is
tied to the racial or ethnic characteristics of the members of
the church or house of worship.
Third, H.R. 3525 simplifies the interstate commerce
requirement of current law. Section 247 now requires that in
committing the offense, the defendant either travel in
interstate commerce, or use a facility or instrumentality of
interstate or foreign commerce in interstate or foreign
commerce. The Department of Justice testified that this double
interstate commerce requirement is virtually impossible to
satisfy, thereby making the section relatively useless. H.R.
3525 cures this problem by replacing current language with the
interstate commerce requirement that the ``offense is in or
affects interstate or foreign commerce.''
Background and Need for the Legislation
Since October 1, 1991, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and
Firearms (BATF)--the primary Federal agency with jurisdiction
to investigate arson--has investigated 147 fire incidents at
churches across the United States. Of these fires, 115 have
proved to be arsons. Fifty-three of those 147 churches were
made up of predominantly African-American congregations, many
of them located in the Southeastern United States.
The number of fires involving African-American churches
reported to Federal authorities has increased dramatically in
recent months. In 1992, three African-American church burnings
in the Southeast were reported and investigated by the BATF.
Two were reported in 1993, four in 1994, and six in 1995. So
far in 1996, there have been at least 26 such fires reported.
In six incidents, the perpetrators were prosecuted and
convicted--four under Federal statutes, and two in state
prosecutions. Of the 31 currently pending investigations--where
arson or suspicious circumstances have been discovered--six are
in Tennessee, five in Louisiana, five in South Carolina, five
in Alabama, three in Mississippi, five in North Carolina, one
in Virginia, and one in Georgia. Arrests have been made in
connection with six of these incidents, and most of the
defendants are being prosecuted in state court under arson
charges. Two of these are in South Carolina, where two
arsonists who set two separate fires are acknowledged members
of the Ku Klux Klan.
The Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division of the
United States Department of Justice prosecutes federal criminal
civil rights statutes which prohibit conspiracies to interfere
with federally protected rights, deprivation of rights under
color of law, the use or threat of force to injure of
intimidate someone in their enjoyment of specific rights (such
as voting, employment, education, public facilities and
accommodations), criminal housing interference and statutes
outlawing peonage and involuntary servitude. According to the
Department of Justice, there are three principal statutes under
which the Civil Rights Division could attempt to prosecute the
person responsible for a church burning that is found to be
motivated by racism.
In the event that the arson was committed by more than one
person, the perpetrators can be charged under section 241 of
Title 18, United States Code, which makes it unlawful for two
or more persons to conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or
intimidate any inhabitant in the free exercise or enjoyment of
any rights of privileges secured by the Constitution or Laws of
the United States. A violation of this section may lead to a
fine of up to $250,000 and/or a term of imprisonment up to 10
years. If death results, defendants may be sentenced to prison
for any term of years or for life, or to death.
If the perpetrator is acting alone, section 241 is not
available as a means of prosecution. Instead, a Federal
prosecutor must charge the defendant under section 247 or
section 248(a)(2) of Title 18.\1\ Specifically, section 247
makes it unlawful to intentionally deface, damage or destroy
any religious real property or to intentionally obstruct, by
force or threat of force, any person in the enjoyment of the
free exercise of their religion. However, one of the elements
of the violation is that, in committing the crime, the
defendant either have (1) traveled in interstate or foreign
commerce or (2) used a facility or instrumentality of
interstate or foreign commerce in interstate commerce. In the
case of many church burnings, there is no evidence that the
defendant traveled across state lines, making it necessary to
invoke the second clause of the jurisdictional requirement.
\1\ An arsonist could also be charged with a federal crime under
the general arson statute, which does not require a showing of racial
motivation. Section 844(i) of Title 18, U.S.C. provides, in pertinent
part, that ``whoever maliciously damages or destroys, or attempts to
damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive, any building,
vehicle, or other real or personal property used in interstate or
foreign commerce or in any activity affecting interstate or foreign
commerce'' shall be fined or imprisoned or both.
The authorized penalties under section 844(i) are prison for not
less than 5 years and not more than 20 years, fines or both. If
personal injury results, the prison term is increased to not less than
7 years and not more than 40 years. If death results, the arsonist is
subject to the death penalty, prison for life, or for any term of
years. The statute of limitations for prosecution under this section is
Under Section 248(a)(2) it is illegal to use force or threat of
force or physical obstruction to injure, intimidate or interfere (or
attempt to do so) with an individual's lawful exercise of his First
Amendment right of religious freedom at a place of religious worship.
Section 248(a)(3) makes it a crime to intentionally damage or destroy
the property of a place of religious worship.
However, in the case of a first offense criminal penalties under
this section are limited to a fine of up to $100,000 and/or
imprisonment for not more than one year. A misdemeanor conviction is
considered in most instances of church arson to be such insignificant
punishment that Federal prosecutors are unwilling to charge the
perpetrator under this section.
When section 247 was initially passed in 1988, Congress
intended to expand the circumstances under which there could be
federal prosecution for religiously motivated violence that
crossed state lines. The bi-partisan bill was passed without
dissent in the hope that its enactment would increase public
awareness of hate crimes and help stem the tide of violence
against religious organizations.
This section was targeted at the very crimes at issue
today: vandalizing and destroying religious property.
Unfortunately, as written, the legislation has proven to be
totally ineffective. Since its enactment, only one case has
been brought under section 247, and it had nothing to do with
destroying religious property. See, United States v. Barlow, 41
F.3d 935 (5th Cir. 1994). Yet, as Justice Rehnquist (writing
for a unanimous Court) recognized in the Supreme Court case of
Wisconsin v. Mitchell, bias crimes are ``more likely to provoke
retaliatory crimes, inflict distinct emotional harms on their
victims and incite community unrest.'' 508 U.S. 467, 488
(1993). Quoting Blackstone, Justice Rehnquist noted that ``it
is but reasonable that among crimes of different natures those
should be most severely punished which are the most destructive
of the public safety and happiness.'' Id. (quoting 4 W.
Blackstone, Commentaries 16). The Church Arson Prevention Act
of 1996 will give new teeth to existing law and make it easier
to punish those whose racial, ethnic or religious animus lead
them to destroy religious property.
The Department of Justice testified that the highly
restrictive and duplicative language of the interstate commerce
requirement has made section 247 ``nearly impossible to use.''
This means that section 247 is of little assistance to federal
prosecutors seeking to convict individual church arsonists. The
Department of Justice also testified that the dollar threshold
contained in section 247 makes its use impractical in many
instances. Where the violation at issue involves damage to real
property, the loss must be greater than $10,000. This means
that where the damage from a fire is minimal, or when hate is
expressed, not through fire but through desecration of
defacement of houses of worship, section 247 cannot be used.
Section 247 is also limited in usefulness in the context of
damage to churches with predominantly African-American
congregations, because the statute only makes it a crime to
damage religious property because of religious considerations.
Thus, if an arsonist has burned a church because he or she
hates Catholics, or Muslims, or Jews, or religion generally,
the statute would be satisfied. If the motivation for the arson
is racial animus, however, the conduct would not constitute a
crime under current section 247.
On May 21, 1996, the Judiciary Committee held a hearing on
the issue of church fires in the Southeastern United States.
Testimony was received from 12 witnesses, including Congressman
Donald Payne, on behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus,
Assistant Attorney General Deval L. Patrick, Civil Rights
Division, Department of Justice, Director John W. Magaw, Bureau
of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Chief Tron W. Brekke, Civil
Rights Program, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Assistant
Secretary James E. Johnson, Enforcement Division, Department of
the Treasury, Chief Robert M. Stewart, South Carolina Law
Enforcement Division, Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, President, Southern
Leadership Conference, Reverend Earl Jackson, New Cornerstone
Exodus Church, as National Liaison for Urban Development of the
Christian Coalition, Reverend Terrance G. Mackey, Sr., Mt. Zion
African Methodist Episcopal Church, Dr. Richard Land,
President, Southern Baptist Christian Life Commission, Nelson
Rivers, Southeast Region Director, National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People, and Reverend Algie Jarrett, Mt.
Calvary Baptist Church. Additional material was submitted for
the record by the National Council of Churches of Christ in the
U.S.A. and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Just two days after the hearing, Chairman Hyde and ranking
Member Conyers introduced the ``Church Arson Prevention Act of
1996'' (H.R. 3525). As introduced, H.R. 3525 would have (1)
simplified the interstate commerce requirement in current law
and (2) reduced the minimum amount of property damage required
from $10,000 to $5,000.
On June 11, 1996 the Committee on the Judiciary met in open
session and ordered favorably reported the bill H.R. 3525, as
amended, by a voice vote, a quorum being present.
Vote of the Committee
Mr. Hyde and Mr. Conyers offered an amendment in the nature
of a substitute to H.R. 3525, which eliminated the dollar
threshold in the bill as introduced, and which clarified that
it would be a violation of the statute if the damage to
religious property was motivated by racial or ethnic
considerations. The amendment was adopted by voice vote. The
Committee then, by voice vote, ordered H.R. 3525, as amended,
reported favorably to the full House.
Committee Oversight Findings
In compliance with clause 2(l)(3)(A) of Rule XI of the
Rules of the House of Representatives, the Committee reports
that the findings and recommendations of the Committee, based
on oversight activities under clause 2(b)(1) of rule X of the
Rules of the House of Representatives, are incorporated in the
descriptive portions of this report.
Committee on Government Reform and Oversight Findings
No findings or recommendations of the Committee on
Government Reform and Oversight were received as referred to in
clause 2(l)(3)(D) of rule XI of the Rules of the House of
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures
Clause 2(l)(3)(B) of House rule XI is inapplicable because
this legislation does not provide new budgetary authority or
increased tax expenditures.
Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate
In compliance with clause 2(l)(C)(3) of rule XI of the
Rules of the House of Representatives, the Committee sets
forth, with respect to the bill, H.R. 3525, the following
estimate and comparison prepared by the Director of the
Congressional Budget Office under section 403 of the
Congressional Budget Act of 1974:
Congressional Budget Office,
Washington, DC, June 14, 1996.
Hon. Henry J. Hyde,
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
reviewed H.R. 3525, the Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996, as
ordered reported by the House Committee on the Judiciary on
June 11, 1996. CBO estimates that enacting the bill could lead
to increases in both direct spending and receipts, but the
amounts involved would be less than $500,000 a year. Because
H.R. 3525 could affect direct spending and receipts, pay-as-
you-go procedures would apply. The bill contains no
intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in
Public Law 104-4, and would impose no direct costs on state,
local, or tribal governments.
H.R. 3525 would clarify and expand federal jurisdiction
over offenses relating to destruction of religious property.
Enacting the bill could lead to more federal prosecutions of
these crimes. Violators would be subject to criminal fines and
imprisonment. The imposition of additional fines could cause
governmental receipts to increase through greater penalty
collections, but CBO estimates that any such increase would be
less than $500,000 annually. Criminal fines would be deposited
in the Crime Victims Fund and would be spent in the following
year. Thus, direct spending from the fund would match the
increase in revenues with a one-year lag.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Mark
Grabowicz and Stephanie Weiner.
June E. O'Neill, Director.
Inflationary Impact Statement
Pursuant to clause 2(l)(4) of rule XI of the Rules of the
House of Representatives, the Committee estimates that H.R.
3525 will have no significant inflationary impact on prices and
costs in the national economy.
The title of this Act is the ``Church Arson Prevention Act
Section 2 of H.R. 3525 amends section 247 of Title 18,
United States Code in three ways. First, it replaces subsection
(b) with a new interstate commerce requirement. H.R. 3525
broadens the jurisdictional scope of the statute by applying
criminal penalties if the offense ``is in or affects interstate
or foreign commerce.'' This formulation grants Federal
jurisdiction, and thus extends the Attorney General's ability
to prosecute cases, as to any conduct which falls within the
interstate commerce clause of the Constitution.
Under this new formulation of the interstate commerce
requirement, the Committee intends that where in committing,
planning, or preparing to commit the offense, the defendant
either travels in interstate or foreign commerce, or uses the
mail or any facility or instrumentality of interstate or
foreign commerce, the statute will be satisfied. These are but
two examples of the many factual circumstances which would come
within the scope of H.R. 3525's interstate commerce
The Committee is aware of the Supreme Court's ruling in
United States v. Lopez, 115 S. Ct. 1624 (1995), in which it
struck down as unconstitutional legislation which would have
regulated the possession of firearms in a school zone. In that
case, the Court found that the conduct to be regulated did not
have a substantial effect on interstate commerce, and was
therefore not within the Federal government's reach under the
interstate commerce clause of the Constitution. H.R 3525, by
contrast, specifically limits its reach to conduct which can be
shown to be in or to affect interstate commerce. Thus, if in
prosecuting a particular case, the government is unable to
establish this interstate commerce connection to the act,
section 247 will not apply to the offense.
In addition, Congress has authority to enact section 247
under the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Section 1
of the Thirteenth Amendment prohibits slavery or involuntary
servitude. Section 2 of the Amendment states that ``Congress
shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate
legislation.'' In interpreting the Amendment, the Supreme Court
has held that Congress may reach private conduct, because it
has the ``power to pass all laws necessary and proper for
abolishing all badges and incidents of slavery in the United
States.'' Jones v. Mayer, 392 U.S. 409, 439, (1968). The
racially motivated destruction of a house of worship is a
``badge or incident of slavery'' which Congress has acted to
punish through section 247.
In replacing subsection (b) of section 247 with new
interstate commerce language, H.R. 3525 also eliminates the
current requirement of subsection (b)(2) that, in the case of
an offense under subsection (a)(1), the loss resulting from the
defacement, damage, or destruction be more than $10,000. This
will allow for Federal prosecution of cases involving poor,
rural congregations where the church building itself is not a
great monetary value. It will also permit Federal prosecution
of cases where the conduct does not result in destruction of
the building, but is limited to defacement or desecration.
Incidents such as spray painting swastikas on synagogues, or
firing gunshots through church windows are clearly hate crimes
and are intended to intimidate a community and interfere with
the freedom of religious expression. For this reason, the fact
that the economic damage they cause is de minimus should not
prevent their prosecution as assaults on religious freedom
under this section.
H.R. 3525 also amends section 247 by inserting in
subsection (a)(1) the words ``racial or ethnic'' before
``character.'' This change will extend coverage of the statute
to conduct which is motivated by ethnic or racial animus. Thus,
in the event that the religious property of a church is damaged
by someone because of his or her dislike or hatred of its
African-American congregation, section 247 as amended by H.R.
3525 would be available to prosecute the perpetrator.
H.R. 3525 does not change the penalty structure under
section 247. Where death results, or in the case of other
serious violent felonies (kidnapping, sexual abuse, attempted
murder) a fine of up to $250,000 and/or any term of years or
for life, or a death sentence may be imposed. Where there is
bodily injury or use, attempted use or threatened use of a
dangerous weapon including fire, a fine of up to $250,000 may
be imposed and/or imprisonment for not more than ten years. In
any other case, a fine of up to $100,000 may be imposed and/or
the defendant may be imprisoned for up to one year.
In expanding the reach of section 247 to specifically
include all church arsons motivated by religious, ethnic, or
racial considerations, the Committee does not intend to alter
or in any way limit the applicability of section 844(i) of
Title 18 to the same conduct. The Department of the Treasury's
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is charged with primary
investigative responsibility over federal arson and bombing
offenses set forth in section 844(i). That section provides, in
pertinent part, that ``whoever maliciously damages or destroys,
or attempts to damage or destroy, by means of fire or an
explosive, any building, vehicle, or other real or personal
property used in interstate or foreign commerce or in any
activity affecting interstate or foreign commerce'' shall be
fined or imprisoned or both.
An incident of church arson might be prosecuted both under
section 844(i) and section 247, as amended by H.R. 3525. It is
the Committee's intent that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and
Firearms shall have concurrent jurisdiction with the Federal
Bureau of Investigation to investigate conduct which might
violate section 247, and which involves fire or explosives.
U.S. Department of Justice,
Office of Legislative Affairs,
Washington, DC, June 7, 1996.
Hon. Henry J. Hyde,
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: This presents the views of the
Department of Justice on H.R. 3525, the ``Church Arson
Prevention Act of 1996.'' The proposed amendments to 18 U.S.C.
247 are an important measure to make that statute a practical
and useful tool to prosecute violence directed at houses of
worship. The Department salutes your leadership and that of Mr.
Conyers on the bill. We strongly support it, and in this letter
outline a number of suggestions which we would urge the
Committee to consider in order to strengthen the bill.
Section 247 was enacted in 1988, and its penalties enhanced
in 1994, to address the serious problem of religiously
motivated violence. As the Committee noted in 1988, the
catalyst for this legislation was that ``[r]eligiously
motivated violence * * * appears to be a growing problem.'' H.
Rep. No. 100-337, 100th Cong., 1st Sess. 2 (1987). Acts of
violent obstruction of the free exercise of religion continue
to present a significant problem nationwide. As you noted at
the Committee hearing on May 21, there has been a disturbing
increase in the number of suspicious fires at churches. We also
continue to be confronted with acts of violence, targeting
places of worship and cemeteries, such as drive-by-shootings,
desecrations and vandalism. In many instances, these acts of
violence appear to be motivated not only by hatred of members
of the houses of worship because of their exercise of their
religion, but also because of their race or ethnicity.
Section 247 could be improved to become a more effective
weapon for the Department of Justice to use against such
violent bigotry. In fact, since its enactment, the statute has
been used only once, successfully in a case involving the
murders of former members of a religious cult at the hands of
other cult members angered at the victims' leaving the church.
U.S. v. Barlow, 41 F. 3d 935 (5th Cir. 1994).
In an effort to address the problem of violence against
houses of worship, the Department has used other statutes to
provide federal jurisdiction, primarily 18 U.S.C. 241. While we
have had success using Section 241 in some cases of attacks on
African-American churches, Section 241 requires proof of a
conspiracy and therefore cannot be used to prosecute persons
acting alone. In addition, church burning cases filed under
Section 241 require proof that the conspiracy was motivated by
In 1994, Congress enacted 18 U.S.C. 248, which prohibits
interference with the exercise of religion and the desecration
of places of worship. Section 248, however, provides inadequate
punishment in the absence of injury. As a result, it is
important that Section 247 be improved to become a valuable
weapon in the arsenal against violence aimed at houses of
Section 247(a) prohibits the defacing of religious property
as well as the violent interference with persons in the free
exercise of their religious beliefs. Despite this broad
prohibitive language, however, other aspects of the statute
limit its effectiveness.
First, Section 247(b) imposes an interstate commerce
requirement that goes well beyond constitutional necessity. A
defendant must either travel in interstate commerce, or a
defendant must ``use a facility or instrumentality of
interstate * * * commerce'' and he must do so ``in interstate *
* * commerce.'' Thus, for example, it is not enough for a
defendant to use a telephone to help him commit the cime--the
call itself must go out of state. If a defendant uses public
transportation to facilitate the crime, it is not enough for
that bus or train to have traveled interstate; the defendant
must have used it in interstate commerce. See S. Rep. No. 100-
324, 100th Cong., 2nd Sess., at 5.
This highly restrictive interstate commerce prerequisite
greatly limits the applicability of the statute. Indeed, the
experience of the Department of Justice is that in the majority
of these cases, the government is unable to establish that
defendants traveled in interstate commerce or used facilities
in interstate commerce. As a result, Section 247, as written,
is simply not applicable to the very kind of misconduct it was
originally intended to address.
Second, Section 247(b) imposes a $10,000 damage minimum in
cases brought under the vandalism portion of the statute. But
many of these cases involve acts of defacement and intimidation
that simply do not result in significant monetary loss. For
example, a gunshot fired into a church may only result in a
broken window causing little physical damage to the building
(well under the $10,000 threshold), but the emotional and
psychological damage to church members is incalculable.
Similarly, a spray painted message of hate on a house of
worship is an assault on the very core of a fundamental
principal of freedom. Yet it does not result in significant
monetary damage and therefore is not actionable under Section
247. A fire that does not spread may well cause less than
$10,000 in damage.
H.R. 3525 would go a long way toward addressing these
concerns. The redrafting of the commerce clause paragraph in
subsection (b)(1) to make clear that an offense that ``affects
interstate * * * commerce'' is covered by the statute, would
broaden the reach of the statute. Under this amendment it would
no longer be necessary to establish as a jurisdictional
prerequisite that the defendant himself moved in interstate
commerce or used a facility in interstate commerce. Instead it
would be enough to show that his conduct had an impact on
interstate commerce--a standard more in line with existing
criminal statutes outlawing, for example, the possession of
certain weapons, e.g. 18 U.S.C. 922(g), 924, or the use of fire
or explosive devices, e.g. 18 U.S.C. 844(i). This amendment
would allow the Department to proceed against defendants who
target religious structures.
However, because we believe that there may be
constitutional authority for Congress to adopt a more expansive
jurisdictional approach, we would like to work with the
Committee to explore this possibility.
The reduction of the $10,000 in damages requirement is also
an important step in the right direction. We would also like to
explore whether it is appropriate to reduce further or
eliminate entirely the damages requirement. The demonstrable
and unmistakable threats conveyed by spray painted swastikas on
synagogues or gunshots fired through church windows inflict
serious assaults on religious freedom and deserve federal
protection under this statute. The fortunate fact that the
destruction is less severe does not make the threat less
Finally, the Committee may also want to consider adding the
words ``racial or ethnic'' to subsection (a)(1) of Section 247
after the word ``religious,'' so the full provision would read
``intentionally defaces, damages, or destroys any religious
real property, because of the religious, racial or ethnic
character of the property.'' This would firmly reach any attack
of a church that is tied to the racial or ethnic
characteristics of the members of the church or house of
We appreciate the opportunity to express the views of the
Administration on this bill, and look forward to working with
the Committee towards its enactment.
Assistant Attorney General.
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported
In compliance with clause 3 of rule XIII of the Rules of
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new
matter is printed in italic, existing law in which no change is
proposed is shown in roman):
SECTION 247 OF TITLE 18, UNITED STATES CODE
Sec. 247. Damage to religious property; obstruction of persons in the
free exercise of religious beliefs
(a) Whoever, in any of the circumstances referred to in
subsection (b) of this section--
(1) intentionally defaces, damages, or destroys any
religious real property, because of the religious,
racial, or ethnic character of that property, or
attempts to do so; or
(2) intentionally obstructs, by force or threat of
force, any person in the enjoyment of that person's
free exercise of religious beliefs, or attempts to do
shall be punished as provided in subsection (c) of this
[(b) The circumstances referred to in subsection (a) are
[(1) in committing the offense, the defendant travels
in interstate or foreign commerce, or uses a facility
or instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce in
interstate or foreign commerce; and
[(2) in the case of an offense under subsection
(a)(1), the loss resulting from the defacement, damage,
or destruction is more than $10,000.]
(b) The circumstances referred to in subsection (a) are
that the offense is in or affects interstate or foreign
* * * * * * *