Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)  today delivered the following remarks on the House floor in support of theProtecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act of 2017 (H.R. 1730).

Chairman Bob Goodlatte: Mr. Speaker, I yield myself as much time as I may consume.

The Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act of 2017 is a bill designed to address recent attacks on religious institutions. It amends the Church Arson Prevention Act to clarify that the Act covers religious real property, such as religious community centers. It also increases the penalty for destruction of property offenses on religious property where the conduct results in more than $5,000 in damages to the property.

This legislation is a direct response to the recent onslaught of bomb threats to various synagogues, mosques, churches, and religious community centers. In 2017, there have been more than 100 reported bomb threats against Jewish community centers, Jewish day schools, and other Jewish organizations and institutions in more than 38 states. Islamic centers and mosques have been burned in the States of Texas, Washington, and Florida. We must send the message that any attempt to instill fear in a religious community will not be tolerated.

From its inception, our country has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental right. It is just as important to protect this right today, if not more so. We must continue to ensure that the American people can continue to practice their faith without obstruction.

I commend Representative David Kustoff and Representative Derek Kilmer, for introducing this bill and I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation.