Fort Wayne pastor wants Indiana hate crimes law to ‘send a message’

Local News

The Indiana Senate passed a version of a hate crimes bill that was stripped of a list of protections. Now, a Fort Wayne pastor wants it changed. 

That list of protections included race, gender identity, sexual orientation and religion. Without that list, the Rev. Bill McGill of the Imani Baptist Temple said the bill is not good enough. 

“I want the bill that was voted out of committee 9 to 1,” said McGill. “I was very, again, pleasantly surprised that it happened, first of all, nine to one. That sent a great message at least to those individuals that were in the room at that point that thought it was a fair and equitable approach.” 

McGill believes that message should be sent to the rest of the country. He says Indiana passing a meaningful hate crimes law would show the rest of the country that Indiana “respects the struggles minorities face.” 

Indiana is one of five states that does not have a hate crimes law. McGill believes that must change. 

“45 other states can’t be wrong while Indiana is right,” McGill said. 

Not everyone agrees with him though. John Aukerman is a retired professor of discipleship at Anderson University. He said the idea of a hate crimes law criminalizes thought. 

“This bill punishes thoughts, not just actions,” Aukerman said during testimony to the Senate Public Policy Committee. “Who is in the all-knowing position of God to judge what was in someone’s mind when they committed a crime?” 

The Indiana House of Representatives is discussing the bill, now known as Senate Bill 12. If it passes there with no change, it will then go to Governor Eric Holcomb’s desk, who has already said the current version is not good enough. 

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