A U.S. senator has introduced a resolution labeling the shooting at a Nashville Christian school a “hate crime” and urging the FBI to investigate it as such.
U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) sent a letter to the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security noting that Nashville police said the shooter, Audrey Hale, had “targeted” The Covenant School. Police said Hale, a biological female, identified as transgender and left a manifesto, although it has yet to be released publicly.
“Federal law explicitly criminalizes acts of violence against individuals based on religious affiliation as hate crimes,” Hawley said in the letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and HHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Hawley quoted the hate crime statute, which says it “bars ‘willfully caus[ing] bodily injury to any person ... because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of any person.’”
“I urge you to immediately open an investigation into this shooting as a federal hate crime,” Hawley wrote. “The full resources of the federal government must be brought to bear to determine how this crime occurred and who may have influenced the deranged shooter to carry out these horrific crimes. Hate that leads to violence must be condemned. And hate crimes must be prosecuted.”
Hawley’s resolution honors the six individuals who were shot and killed. It also applauds the quick work of law enforcement. Further, it “strongly condemns the horrific act of violence that occurred at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, on March 27, 2023, and recognizes it as a hate crime targeting Christians.”
The resolution urges Americans to “unite in the face of such hatred and violence” and to “stand in solidarity with those who have been affected by this tragedy.”
The nation “reaffirms its commitment to uphold the values of tolerance, religious freedom, and justice for all, as enshrined in the Constitution of the United States,” the resolution says.
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.