Graffiti, broken windows, and even arson at churches and religious buildings. Now, lawmakers are pushing back against people who commit these crimes at places of worship. A new law authored by both democratic and republican senators increases the penalties for anyone who threatens crimes against places of worship, or causes more than $5,000 worth of damage.
In the past couple of years places of worship up and down the Valley have been targeted by people looking to cause serious damage. Deacon Ted Luster says his church East Baptist Church of Fresno experienced this when windows were broken and even a fire was started inside.
“I don’t understand it. To rob a store is bad, but to rob a church, or do something bad to a church, you know? God’s house. That’s like slapping God in the face,” said Luster.
In response to crimes like this, federal lawmakers took action upping the penalties on these crimes in a bill signed into law by President Trump a few days ago. A threat of a crime against places of worship or vandalism causing more than $5,000 in damage could now land a suspect behind bars for up to three years.
“That shows a concern. That’s what makes the anger a little bit less. Showing the concern of our community,” said Luster.
In the wake of vandalism churches always seem to find encouragement through the community effort to rebuild and clean things up. In Ted Luster’s case, he hopes the new law will prevent these crimes and make people think about another option.
“All they have to do is… I need help. And we’re going to be there as much as we can. If not. We know where the resources are,” said Luster.
Link to the Law: https://www.congress.gov/115/bills/s994/BILLS-115s994enr.pdf