(July 19, 2022 / JNS)
A coalition of multifaith national organizations sent a letter to two committee leaders in the Senate on Tuesday, urging them to help protect houses of worship and nonprofits by passing a bill to improve the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP).
Led by the Jewish Federations of North America, the letter was addressed to the Senate Homeland Security Committee chairman Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and ranking member Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). It called for the House-passed Nonprofit Security Grant Program Improvement Act of 2022 to be incorporated in legislation scheduled for markup in the committee this week.
The bill would authorize the NSGP to be funded with $500 million annually from fiscal years 2023 to 2028, allowing the program to grow. It also requires there establishment of mechanisms to improve the grant’s management at state and federal levels; allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to redirect unallocated funds between state and federal NSGP grant programs; and provide data collection to measure the program’s efficiency, among other details in the bill.
Its urgency comes in the wake of recent shootings, as well as threats and violent acts towards religious organizations.
The letter noted that the Department of Homeland Security, which issues National Terrorism Advisory System bulletins twice a year, consistently warns faith-based institutions in the United States of imminent violence against institutions, schools, and racial and religious minorities. The warning also recommends organizations utilize the NSGP to counter these threats.
It stated that the program has grown from its small beginning in 2005 to last year receiving 3,400 applications and even more applicants this year, totaling 3,500 despite only having seven days to apply.
The writers of the letter stated that more support is needed to help smaller organizations apply for the grant and outlined multiple issues with the application process.
Entities signing onto the letter alongside JFNA include the ADL, Agudath Israel of America, National Association of Evangelicals, Religions for Peace USA, Secure Community Network, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty and the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations.
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