WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today met with faith leaders and law enforcement officials to discuss his bipartisan efforts to improve security for faith-based institutions in Michigan. At the roundtable, Peters highlighted his bipartisan legislation that recently advanced in the Senate to provide grants to nonprofits and religious organizations to help secure their facilities against potential terrorist attacks.
“Places of worship should be a safe haven, where people can practice their religion without fear of being attacked. But tragically, the rise in the number of violent attacks against synagogues, mosques and churches across the country has shattered that expectation,” said Senator Peters. “These acts of hatred and bigotry toward our fellow Americans have no place in our society,”
Peters continued, “I was encouraged by our frank and productive discussion on how to best ensure that Michigan’s houses of worship can remain a safe haven, and what more the federal government can do to help accomplish that goal.”
Religious leaders from the Detroit Metro area attended the roundtable to discuss their security concerns and how they can benefit from the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Nonprofit Security Grant Program. Law enforcement officials, including representatives from the DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Michigan State Police also joined the discussion to advise attendees about best practices for improving security in churches, synagogues, mosques, gurdwaras, and other houses of worship. The roundtable discussion was held at St. John’s Armenian Church in Southfield.
Peters’ bipartisan Protecting Faith-Based and Nonprofit Organizations from Terrorism Act, which he introduced with U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), would authorize $75 million annually over the next five years for the Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program. Of the $75 million total, $50 million will be available for nonprofits located within high-risk urban areas, and the remaining $25 million will be available for organizations in suburban and rural areas. Under the legislation, funding may be used for target-hardening activities, training for personnel, and other activities to help secure these institutions and the people they serve from violent attacks. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee unanimously approved the legislation in June.