Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed Senate amended (06/26/1996)

Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996 - Makes Federal criminal code prohibitions against, and penalties for, damaging religious property or obstructing any person's free exercise of religious beliefs applicable where the offense is in, or affects, interstate commerce. (Currently such provisions apply only where: (1) the defendant, in committing the offense, travels in interstate or foreign commerce or uses a facility or instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce in interstate or foreign commerce; and (2) the loss exceeds $10,000.)

Prohibits intentionally defacing, damaging, or destroying religious real property (or attempting to do so) because of the race, color, or ethnic characteristics of any individual associated with such property.

Increases penalties for violations of such provisions where bodily injury to any person, including a public safety officer, results or where such acts include the use, or attempted or threatened use, of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire.

Includes within the definition of "religious real property" fixtures or religious objects contained within a place of religious worship.

Sets a seven-year statute of limitations for the prosecution, trial, or punishment of a person for any noncapital offense under such provisions.

Directs the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to make guaranteed loans to financial institutions in connection with loans made to assist certain tax exempt religious or other organizations that have been damaged by arson or terrorism. Authorizes the Secretary to use for such loan guarantees up to $5 million of the amounts made available for FY 1996 for the credit subsidy provided under the General Insurance Fund and the Special Risk Insurance Fund.

Amends the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 to include as "compensable crimes" under such Act crimes under this Act where victims suffer death or personal injury.

Authorizes appropriations to the Departments of the Treasury and Justice, including the Community Relations Service, to increase personnel to investigate, prevent, and respond to potential violations of this Act and Federal explosives prohibitions.

Reauthorizes the Hate Crimes Statistics Act.

Commends those individuals and entities that have responded with funds to assist in the rebuilding of places of worship that have been victimized by arson. Encourages the private sector to continue such efforts.