This morning, Bishop Jennifer joined with faith leaders at the Statehouse for an interfaith moment of action to pray for and demand full, just and inclusive anti-bias crime legislation in Indiana. Her remarks are below:
Like many of you, I come from a tradition that offers prayers of lamentation in the wake of unspeakable acts of violence and injustice. When a hate-filled individual murdered 50 Muslims at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand last week, we fell to our knees and raised our voices in grief and despair.
The Islamophobia that drove the slaughter in Christchurch is a very particular kind of hatred. So is the anti-Semitism that inspired the carnage at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in October. So is the racism that infected the young man who killed nine people at Bible study at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015. So is the homophobia that expresses itself so viciously and so frequently that hate-motivated homicides of lesbian, gay, bisexual and, especially, transgender people have skyrocketed.
These hatreds have names. We acknowledge them as specific sorts of evils. But in Indiana, our law does not reflect this understanding.
We would all rather prevent hate crimes than lament them. But that is difficult to do if our laws do not even acknowledge that they exist. I urge our elected representatives to enact legislation that will define what constitutes a bias-motivated crime and includes specific classes that are protected by the law. I urge our legislators, especially, to pass a statute that protects people on the basis of gender identity, because the transgender people in our communities are among the most vulnerable of God’s beloved children.
I also ask our legislators to create a sentencing tool that will allow prosecutors and judges to fully address biases that motivate crimes, update and enhance reporting requirements, and ensure that agencies and officers are properly trained on how to recognize and respond to bias-motivated crimes.
Like so many of you, I am bone weary of laments. I long to raise my voice in thanksgiving for a just law that will help save the lives and ensure the dignity of our fellow Hoosiers. The members of the General Assembly have before them an opportunity to give us reason for such gratitude, and I pray, I pray, that they will act, and take advantage of this opportunity without delay.