With passage of Arbit bill, Michigan to join 35 other states prohibiting hate crimes against houses of worship and other communal property

LANSING, Mich. — On November 9th, both chambers of the Michigan Legislature passed the Institutional Desecration Act, introduced by State Representative Noah Arbit (D-West Bloomfield).

“It has been deeply painful to watch houses of worship, minority-owned businesses, and cultural centers become targets for vandalism, destruction, and desecration in recent years. When I ran for this office, I promised the people of West Bloomfield, Commerce, and the Lakes that I would introduce legislation to protect houses of worship and communal property. I am thrilled that the Legislature has acted to protect our sacred spaces, moving Michigan one step forward in our fight to combat hate crimes.”

The Institutional Desecration Act (House Bills 4476-77) prohibits the defacement, destruction, and vandalism of institutions and communal property, including houses of worship, community centers, businesses and nonprofits, cemeteries, schools, libraries, and museums.

“When I drive around West Bloomfield, passing St. Thomas Chaldean Church, Temple Shir Shalom, Sri Balaji Hindu Temple and the Muslim Unity Center, it is apparent the power of what we have built here in Michigan – a place where all people can live and worship proudly as who they are – and what we stand to lose if we do not fight to protect it. I introduced the Institutional Desecration Act to ensure that Michigan is truly a place where hate has no home. I am thrilled that this legislation, which is so meaningful to me and my community, will be the first bill I author to become law.”

Rep. Arbit has credited his Jewish heritage and upbringing in West Bloomfield, a culturally and religiously diverse community, as inspiring him to spearhead the Institutional Desecration Act. He also cited a rise in acts of institutional vandalism, with attacks in recent years on Temple Emanuel in Grand Rapids in 2019, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Center in Rochester Hills in 2021, the Woodward Avenue Shul in Royal Oak in 2023, and the Ahavas Israel Cemetery, a Jewish cemetery in Grand Rapids, in 2020. 

House Bills 4476-77 now await a signature from Governor Gretchen Whitmer