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Peters Calls for Increased Funding to Help Protect Houses of Worship from Threats Following Violent Attack Against Texas Synagogue

DETROIT, MI U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, led a group of his colleagues in calling for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) to receive adequate funding to meet the needs of houses of worship and other nonprofit organizations that want to secure their facilities against potential terrorist attacks. Peters’ letter follows another violent attack against the Jewish Community in Colleyville, Texas. The NSGP provides grants to help at-risk nonprofits plan for and safeguard their facilities against potential attacks. Grants can be used to harden facilities, promote emergency preparedness training, and strengthen security coordination between communities, emergency responders and state and local government agencies. Last year, Peters announced that nearly $3.5 million was given to nonprofits and faith-based organizations across Michigan to help secure their facilities against potential attacks.

“The Nonprofit Security Grant Program is a critical resource for houses of worship that want to protect against potential threats. The recent tragic attack against a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas is just the latest example of why this program needs robust funding,” said Senator Peters. “No American should fear for their safety when practicing their faith. That is why I have long fought to increase funding for this vital program so that houses of worship, cultural institutions and nonprofit organizations in Michigan and across the nation can improve their security and provide a safe haven for their congregations, especially in the wake of rising anti-Semitic and other faith-based attacks that continue to terrorize communities.”

Data collected by organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League and Center for Strategic and International Studies show our nation faces the highest level of violence based on religion in decades. This includes deadly attacks at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston and the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. According to FBI data, among all victims of anti-religious hate crimes in 2019, 60.2 percent were victims of crimes motivated by offenders' anti-Jewish bias. Funding for the NSGP can be used by religious and other non-profit institutions for securing facilities, personnel training, and other activities to help protect against violent attacks.

In his role on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Senator Peters has long fought to help protect faith-based and nonprofit institutions that are under threat from terror attacks. Peters recently convened two hearings to examine needed actions to address the rise of white supremacist, faith-based and anti-government violence. Prior to the 2020 year-end funding bill, Peters led bipartisan legislation, which was signed into law, to authorize additional funding for the in-demand program, and has led bipartisan calls for the program to get robust funding.

Read the text of the letter here.