With dramatic unanimity, the sacred scriptures of diverse religious traditions vehemently condemn hate. Any crime committed by one human being against another is a tragedy, but a crime motivated by hatred tears apart the lives of those targeted, their loved ones, and the larger group they represent.
As an organization committed to combating religious discrimination and bigotry, we are acutely aware that hate groups are becoming more vocal, visible, and violent. Interfaith Alliance joins in solidarity with our community members and neighbors who face hatred and discrimination, with the knowledge that our freedoms are inextricably bound together.
Hate crimes are uniquely damaging to those targeted and the larger group they represent.
Hate crimes escalate prejudice, often against minority groups, into violence. A criminal act can be classified as a hate crime when the perpetrator targets the victim because of the victim’s race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.
Forty-five states and the District of Columbia punish these crimes more harshly because the perpetrator intentionally chose to harm someone because of their actual or perceived characteristics. Often, victims may be afraid to come forward for fear of increased stigma or retraumatization by law enforcement.
The Shepard-Byrd Act
Interfaith Alliance pressed for a federal hate crimes law for over 10 years. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 ultimately passed with the support of nearly three hundred civil rights, religious, educational, professional, and civic organizations and virtually every major law enforcement organization in the country.
The Act allows the federal government to assist in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes or, in some circumstances, to do so when a locality is unable or unwilling.
The NO HATE Act
Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer were killed on the same day – August 12th – one year apart. Named in their honor, the Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer National Opposition to Hate, Assault, and Threats to Equality (NO HATE) Act would promote more accurate hate crime data collection and assist hate crime victims and their communities.
On May 20, 2021, signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law to specifically address the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes. This bill included the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act as an amendment. Interfaith Alliance welcomed the passage of this much-needed legislation.
Joining Together to Protect All
Our country has seen devastating increases in acts of hate targeting Jews, Muslims, Asian Americans, Sikhs, Black Americans, LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, people with disabilities. Now more than ever, we recognize that all communities must come together to root out hate where it exists.
In response to the recent spike in antisemitic hate crimes, Interfaith Alliance joined in solidarity with 55 other civil and human rights organizations to condemn these acts and call upon our elected leaders to do the same.
Combating Hate During COVID-19
Xenophobic responses to the coronavirus pandemic have driven an increase in violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Led by the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, on March 11, 2020, we joined over 260 civil rights organizations in urging the House and Senate to call for unity and take action against xenophobic responses to this public health emergency.