AP
President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

SALT LAKE CITY — President Donald Trump signed a bipartisan bill Tuesday to strengthen protections for religious organizations and their properties against persecution.

In introducing the measure last year, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, cited past mistreatment of early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and recent bomb threats at Jewish community centers.

"Crimes targeting religious institutions pose a danger to the religious freedom and security of all Americans," Hatch said in a statement Tuesday.

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Attacks on houses of worship and affiliate community centers are "inexcusable," he said.

Hatch worked with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to draft the Protecting Religious Affiliated Institutions Act, which unanimously passed the Senate and House last month.

The bill clarifies that federal law prohibits threats toward religious institutions. It also modestly increases the criminal penalty for cases in which the underlying conduct causes significant damage or destruction, and clarifies that religious real property includes property that is leased by religious institutions.