Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Atlanta Bishops join fight against antisemitism as Georgia bill progresses 

By GEORGIA BULLETIN STAFF  | Published January 26, 2024  | En Español

ATLANTA—The bishops of Atlanta added their voices to the effort to pass a law that defines antisemitism in the face of reports of escalating attacks of Jews.  

Lawmakers passed the bill Thursday, Jan. 25 that revises the state’s hate crimes law. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill into law Jan. 31.

The Senate passed the proposal 44-6, and later House members endorsed it with a 129-5 vote. 

“The inclusion of this definition is long overdue. We have witnessed vandalism at synagogues, schools and cemeteries. We are called to confront hatred in all its forms,” said the bishops’ letter to Georgia lawmakers.  

Citing studies from the Anti-Defamation League, the bishops said there had been a 63 percent increase in attacks and antisemitic incidents in the state in 2023. Reports of growing incidents targeting Jews at street protests, on social media and on college campuses make the revision necessary, stated the bishops’ letter.  

The proposal incorporates the definition of antisemitism adopted by the International Holocaust Alliance in 2016.  

The definition reads: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be express his hatred towards Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed towards Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”   

The state’s hate crimes law imposes higher penalties for crimes motivated by certain types of bias. 

Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv.; Bishop Joel M. Konzen, SM, Bishop Bernard E. Shlesinger III and Bishop John N. Tran each signed the letter.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated Feb. 1 following the signing of the bill by Gov. Brian Kemp.