Rep. Speedy has introduced HB 1337 concerning religious motivated crime. (Sidenote: are the kids still using 1337 for “leet” speak?) It says that a person who knowingly or intentionally causes bodily injury because of the other person’s actual or perceived religion or creed commits a religious motivated crime, a Level 4 felony. A couple of thoughts: first, if this moves they should consider making it causing moderate or serious bodily injury. As luck would have it, I was reading a case where even temporary pain will satisfy the “bodily injury” requirement. Not that I condone that, but if you poke someone in the forehead in a way that hurts briefly, taunting them because it’s Ash Wednesday, I think that should be condemned and even punished, but I don’t know that it’s a Level 4 felony.
I can see where crimes motivated by religion are a bigger concern for society than your run-of-the-mill crime. History is lousy with death and destruction caused by religious conflict. So, there is a rational basis for policymakers to pay extra attention to conflict generated by religion — much as there is a rational, historical basis for taking a closer look at crimes motivated by race and gender. But, my second thought is whether it should be expanded to include not only crimes motivated by the religion of the victim, but also crimes motivated by the religion of the perpetrator. If you stone a woman because you think your religious beliefs require it of you, that strikes me as being a similar problem to shooting someone because you think they’re a Jew or a Christian or whatever religion you happen not to like.