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The Nation

October 06, 1987

The House passed a bill expanding federal authority to fight so-called "hate crimes" that damage religious property and obstruct the free exercise of religious beliefs. The bill makes it a federal offense to cross state lines to commit crimes motivated by religious hatred, and sets penalties including fines of up to $250,000 and prison terms up to life. Federal prosecution could occur if a crime caused at least $10,000 worth of damage. Examples of religiously motivated violence have included vandalism, such as a swastika painted on a synagogue wall, and destruction, such as arson and bombing. Synagogues are the most frequent target, followed by black churches, authorities said.

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