Faith-Based Leaders Across Ohio Support Portman’s Bipartisan Pray Safe Act to Ensure Faith-Based Organizations and Houses of Worship Have Access to Key Information & Security Best Practices

Faith-based leaders across Ohio have expressed their support for the bipartisan Pray Safe Act, led by Senator Portman, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which will establish a federal clearinghouse through which faith-based organizations and houses of worship could access information on safety and security best practices, available federal grant programs, and training opportunities. 

The following faith-based leaders across Ohio have voiced their support for the Pray Safe Act: 

“When the Jewish community first began to realize the rise in Jew-hatred wasn’t a blip and the threats and attacks weren’t outliers, Senator Rob Portman met with us. He promised our communities across Ohio, and throughout the nation, he would use every tool at the Senate’s disposal to keep us safe,” said Howie Beigelman, Executive Director of Ohio Jewish Communities. “The Pray Safe Act is one more bipartisan example of Senator Portman’s untiring efforts, and we thank him and his lead cosponsor, Senator Hassan. Hate-fuelled violence is still on the rise. Houses of worship and other faith based institutions as well as individuals easily identified as part of certain faith remain in the terrorist’s crosshairs.  But none of us are in this alone. This legislation will help those who are targets of terror to know what help the federal and state government can provide.  State & federal policymakers can see what best practices are in use elsewhere.  The office will work across all levels of government to keep us trained, resilient, and ready.” 

“The Pray Safe Act is as great example of the power of bipartisan legislation to make a real life-saving difference on the ground for every-day people exercising their constitutional right to worship free from the threat of violence,” said Jackie Congedo, Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. “We are tremendously grateful to Senators Portman and Hassan for their leadership in working across party lines to streamline and develop a comprehensive clearing house of best practices and resources to protect faith-based communities against the growing threat of antisemitic, islamophobic, racist and other bigoted violence.” 

“I concur with Sen. Rob Portman for the safety and fundamental right for people to worship, pray and praise Jehovah-Elohim in a safe and protected environment. As this country was founded on religious freedom and the Divine direction of the Almighty, regardless of how we call upon Him, I support this effort to protect the American citizens in their right to enjoy the pleasure and privilege to be in their places of worship,” said Bishop Eugene Ward, Pastor of the Greater Love Baptist Church in Cleveland, Chairman of the Bishops Council, Kingdom Connection Fellowship, International. “We all should have the overall protection of government and local law enforcement agencies to aid and cover those from different cultural and diverse backgrounds. It is our right to enjoy the ability to glorify and exalt the Creator in the peace and comfort of our place of spiritual enlightenment and be in a safe and protected environment.”   

“We commend and thank Senators Portman and Hassan for co-introducing this important legislation.  Sadly, it is much needed given the horrific assaults we have witnessed in recent years on innocent worshippers in their sacred spaces,” said Robert C. “Chip” Harrod, Executive Director of EquaSion, Sponsor of the Cincinnati Festival of Faiths. “Seemingly, no faiths have been spared these unconscionable acts of hatred and violence.  We believe the problem warrants the kinds of safe-guarding steps and protections being proposed in the Pray Safe Act, and we whole-heartedly endorse it.” 

The Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati has been a target for threats and security breach by bad actors. It is for this reason and many more we are very positive on the Pray Safe Act as a great example of the power of bipartisan legislation to keep diverse faith communities safe. It is necessary to make a much needed difference on the ground for every-day Americans exercising the constitutional right to worship free from the threat of violence,” said Dr. Amir Izhar, Board Chair of the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati. “We are grateful to Senators Portman and Hassan for their leadership in working across party lines to streamline and develop a comprehensive clearinghouse of best practices and resources to protect faith base communities against the growing threats of Islamaphobic, AntiSemitic, racist and other bigoted violence.” 

While we wish it were not the case, the Pray Safe Act is a crucial piece of legislation to help houses of worship and other Jewish agencies protect themselves against religious-based and hate-filled terror. We know this first hand. A local individual, who was motivated by antisemitic animus, just pled guilty to making threats against our Jewish Community Center and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence,” said Bonnie Deutsch Burdman, Executive Director of Community Relations/Government Affairs for Youngstown Area Jewish Federation. ”His threats shattered our communal security and were meant to terrorize all our local Jewish institutions.  We are so appreciative of Senator Portman, who has been a national leader on the issue of nonprofit security, as well as Senator Hassan, for their efforts to establish a mechanism for our Jewish agencies, and all houses of worship and faith-based institutions, to remain protected against violent acts of bigotry.”