U.S. Senator Gary Peters, Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, announced that $7.5 million in grant funding will be awarded to nonprofits and faith-based organizations across Michigan to help them protect their facilities against potential attacks. The funding is from the Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP), which Peters has championed, to help religious institutions, including synagogues, churches, mosques, gurdwaras, and other nonprofits, strengthen their security in the face of rising threats and attacks. Peters helped lead the reauthorization of this essential program last Congress, and has helped secure substantial funding increases in recent years, including $305 million in a funding bill that was signed into law last year.
“Houses of worship in Michigan and across the country continue to face threats and attacks that are inspired by hate based on religion, like antisemitism and Islamophobia,” said Senator Peters. “While this funding will be critical to helping communities feel safer, I will continue pushing the federal government to do more to combat the continued threat of domestic terrorism, including white supremacist violence.”
The number of hate crimes in the United States in 2021, the most recent year for which data is available, increased 11.6% over 2020, including more than 1,590 hate crimes categorized as anti-religious. Hate crimes motivated by religious bias comprised an increased proportion of hate crimes overall, up from 13.3% of total hate crimes in 2020 to 14.1% in 2021. Further, data collected by organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League and Center for Strategic and International Studies show that the greatest terrorist threat to Americans is from domestic violent extremists motivated by white supremacist and anti-government beliefs. This includes deadly attacks at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston and the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Funding from 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.
Last Congress, Peters released an investigative report that found the federal government is not adequately addressing the threat of domestic terrorism, including white supremacist violence. The report offered several recommended actions on how the U.S. can better counter the threat of domestic extremism. Peters also previously convened a two-part hearing with experts representing faith-based, civil rights, and academic and policy research organizations on the impacts of domestic extremism, including white supremacist and anti-government violence.