DHS Provides Self-Defense Guide to Houses of Worship

(NationalUSNews.com) — In a press release on December 6, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a guide outlining actions and strategies for houses of worship like churches, mosques, and temples to protect themselves against what they have characterized as heightened tensions in faith-based communities.

David Mussington of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) branch of the DHS says that the guide is designed to give clear, usable information to guide faith groups actions and direct them on how to get assistance as needed from CISA. The 16-page pamphlet called Physical Security Performance Goals for Faith-Based Communities offers advice on landscaping around houses of worship to not provide attackers with hiding places and not give out unnecessary information during livestreaming religious services.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says that they are committed to protecting American’s religious rights, and to that end, the guide will provide faith-based institutions with ways to reduce risk to their communities that are easy to implement and cost-effective. The guidance also includes information about how religious institutions can apply for federal government grants to pay for security improvements, among other resources that may be available to them.

CISA has been working on this guidance for months amid a spike in reported hate crimes since the October 7th attack on Israel by the terrorist group Hamas. According to FBI Director Christopher Wray, they have been opening 60 percent more hate crime investigations since then compared to similar periods before.

Attacks on mosques, churches, and synagogues have become an increasing problem in many countries over the last few years. A report by the Family Research Council claims that 2023 is the worst year they’ve seen for acts of hostility perpetrated against churches since they began tracking the incidents six years ago.

The CAM Antisemitism Research Center has noted an uptick in attacks on Jewish institutions globally, and the ACLU’s website hosts an interactive map for tracking nationwide anti-mosque activity. While incidents of religious hatred seem to be ramping up around the world and in America specifically, it is reassuring that the DHS seems to be prioritizing enhancing American’s freedom to practice their faith in safety.

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