Alaska’s House Decides To Make Damaging A Church A Felony; Bill Now Goes To The Senate


If the bill that was passed by the Alaska House of Representatives on Wednesday night becomes law, damaging a church or other property used by a religious group would be a crime.

Rep. Andy Josephson’s (D-Anchorage) House Bill 238 was passed by a vote of 35 to 5. The bill will now go to the Senate for more discussion.

“I think it makes sense to say that if you damage a place of worship, it should be more serious than an A misdemeanor,” Josephson said, referring to the type of crime that many acts of mischief are now.

He spoke in favor of the bill and said that destroying a church causes “community-wide reaction and response” because it affects the whole group. He said that when one business is broken into, it affects fewer people.

Josephson said that in 42 states, damaging a church is a more serious crime than damaging a park bench.

He said, “I want to join those 42 other states.”

Five of the “no” votes came from Representatives. Some of the people running are David Eastman (R-Wasilla), Ashley Carrick (D-Fairbanks), Sara Hannan (D-Juneau), CJ McCormick (D-Bethel), and Will Stapp (R-Fairbanks).

Hannan said she wasn’t happy with how the bill treats damage to a church like a property crime. It would have been better for her if it was called a hate crime.

Eastman said that HB 238 does not have a standard for intent, but intend is needed to show a hate crime. He said that could mean that someone would get a harsher sentence for damaging a church, even if they weren’t trying to specifically damage that church.

Stapp had an easier reason for his “no” vote: he made a mistake because the final vote on reconsideration happened very early Thursday morning, and he had voted for the bill before.

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