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March 06, 2024

New Bill Would Protect Places Of Worship From Increased Threats

By Elizabeth Troutman |

Congressman David Schweikert’s new bill would help places of worship and other nonprofit organizations protect themselves from danger. 

The Warranting of Religious Spaces to Handle Increased Protection (WORSHIP) Act provides greater flexibility to places of worship and other nonprofit organizations receiving funding from FEMA’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) to bolster security measures against terrorist threats and antisemitic incidents.

“Our communities depend on places of worship to come together and embrace shared beliefs throughout life. No one should feel threatened when exercising their religious liberty, which is fundamentally protected by the First Amendment,” Schweikert, a Republican, said. 

Antisemitic incidents in the U.S. increased by 360% in the first three months after Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). This is more than triple the number of incidents from the same period last year. 

A minimum of 628 reported cases were against synagogues and Jewish community centers, and the preliminary three-month total was higher than the total number of antisemitic incidents tallied in any year over the last decade except for 2022.

The Grand Canyon state has seen its own uptick in antisemitic incidents, as the ADL’s Arizona regional office reported an 86% increase in antisemitic incidents over the past year. The FBI arrested a man for allegedly threatening to execute a Scottsdale rabbi in November. 

Crimes motivated by religious bias increased by more than 28% from 2021 to 2022, according to the 2022 Hate Crime Statistics Report released by the FBI. Religion was in the top three bias categories due to the volume of reported hate crime incidents, with the highest religious bias being anti-Jewish.

“I’ve always said my faith motivates me, and I’m proud to introduce this commonsense legislation that will provide our faith-based communities the resources they need to harden security and improve safety,” Schweikert said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this bill.”

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