President Donald Trump signed a bill on January 24 authorizing $375 million in grants for churches and other houses of worship to help protect themselves against violence and terror attacks.
During the gathering of American mayors at the White House, Trump signed H.R. 2476, or the Securing American Nonprofit Organizations Against Terrorism Act of 2019. It will allocate $75 million annually for the security of houses of worship and other non-profits, reports The Jerusalem Post.
We are committed to building a nation where every community is secure, every family is safe, and every child can grow up in dignity and in peace. —US President Donald Trump
The grant could be used to improve building security through the construction of fences, installation of surveillance cameras, metal detectors and blast-resistant doors. Faith leaders could also use the grant to train staff or hire security personnel.
“We are committed to building a nation where every community is secure, every family is safe, and every child can grow up in dignity and in peace,” said Trump.
Violent attacks on places of worship prompted the government to help churches to beef up their security. In 2017, 26 people were gunned down at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Another church shooting happened in the state in December 2019, where two people died during a Sunday service at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, reports BBC.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott called the shooting “an evil act of violence.” In a statement, he said, “Places of worship are meant to be sacred, and I am grateful for the church members who acted quickly to take down the shooter and help prevent further loss of life.”
Meantime, Congress increased the budget for the Nonprofit Security Grants Program (NSPG) for houses of worship to $90 million, from $60 million last year. Democratic senators have called to quadruple the said budget to $360 million.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Senator Chris Van Hollen said it is important to give more funding to secure houses of worship in the country. “We need to do that because we’re, unfortunately, sadly, at this moment in our history seeing a dramatic increase in hate crimes motivated by anti-religious bigotry and racism.”