House lawmakers recently advanced a measure designed to ensure federal support to protect the safety of non-profits at risk of terrorism, including synagogues, mosques, churches and other places of worship.
The Securing American Nonprofit Organizations Against Terrorism Act of 2019 authorizes a security grant program within the Department of Homeland Security for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations at risk of a terrorist attack. It was authored by Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) along with Reps. Peter King (R-NY), Max Rose (D-NY), Steve Stivers (R-OH), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) and Troy Balderson (R-OH).
“In just the first six months of 2019, the level of bloodshed in places of worship has shocked the world,” Thompson said. “It’s painfully clear that these houses of worship are under threat of violence committed by terrorists of all extreme ideologies. We urgently must address the root causes of hatred and extremism, but in the short-term, these synagogues, mosques, and churches need our help and protection just to stay safe.”
The lawmakers said the legislation would assist targeted organizations with costs related to acquiring and installing security equipment, hiring security personnel, and security training for key personnel to prevent or protect against attacks.
“This bipartisan bill will strengthen security and preparedness at faith-based and other at-risk nonprofit institutions,” William Daroff of the Jewish Federations of North America said. “Since Sept. 11, nonprofits generally, and Jewish communal institutions specifically, have been the victim of an alarming number of threats and attacks from across the ideological spectrum. This bill will bolster the ability of nonprofits to counter those threats by providing needed resources for target hardening and the integration of nonprofit preparedness activities with broader state and local preparedness efforts.”