House passes bill to make church vandalism a felony


Vandalism directed at a church or other property used by a religious organization would become a felony in Alaska if legislation passed by the state House of Representatives becomes law.

The House voted 35-5 on March 20 to approve House Bill 238, from Anchorage Rep. Andy Josephson, sending the bill to the Senate for further debate.

“I think it’s rational to say that when you commit harm to a house of worship, it should be more serious” than a misdemeanor, Josephson said.

He said the defacement of a church draws “community-wide reaction and response” because it affects an entire congregation. If a single business is vandalized, it affects fewer people.

Josephson said 42 states penalize church vandalism more heavily than vandalism of something like a park bench. “I want to join those 42 other states.”

One of the “no” votes was Juneau Rep. Sara Hannan, who said she was dissatisfied that the bill treats church vandalism like a property crime. She would have preferred that it be considered a hate crime.

The Alaska Beacon is an independent, donor-funded news organization.


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