WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced the bipartisan Pray Safe Act to 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 Pray Safe Act is cosponsored by Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV).
“We must ensure that faith-based organizations and houses of worship have the resources, assistance, and training they need to secure their facilities in the face of unnecessary violence that has tragically become increasingly common,” said Senator Portman. “The threats and senseless attacks on faith-based organizations and houses of worship we’ve seen across our country are attacks on our values and this bipartisan legislation will give our faith-based institutions in Ohio and across our country the resources and information they need to protect themselves.”
“Americans should be able to feel a sense of safety and security in their places of worship, yet we have seen heartbreaking attacks targeting communities based on their faiths,” said Senator Hassan. “This bipartisan bill will help provide best practices to places of worship so that Americans of all faith backgrounds can gather in peace. I will continue working to protect faith-based organizations in New Hampshire and the rest of the country.”
“The Pray Safe bill would create a centralized hub for faith-based institutions facing security threats,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of The Anti-Defamation League. “At a time when Jews have been experiencing increased antisemitic incidents, we welcome bipartisan efforts like that of Senators Portman and Hassan to improve access to life-saving services across faith-based communities.”
“We are deeply troubled about the recent spike in hate crimes, including antisemitic violence,” said Elana Broitman, the Senior Vice President for Public Affairs of The Jewish Federations of North America. “By establishing a national clearinghouse for the collection of data and best practices, this legislation will enable Jewish institutions and other nonprofits to better protect themselves against the threat of domestic terrorism, thereby making us all safer and more secure. We are grateful to both Senators Rob Portman and Maggie Hassan for their steadfast support for faith-based and nonprofit communal security and look forward to working with them to make this bill into law.”
“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,” said Dr. Amir Izhar, Board Chair of Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati. “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. 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.“
“It is tragic that in the United States today – synagogues, churches, temples and other houses of worship can’t be assumed to be sanctuaries from violence and strife; but have been the sites of faith-targeted violence. Freedom to worship cannot be enjoyed without freedom from fear,” said Nathan J. Diament, the Executive Director for Public Policy of The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. “Thus, the Orthodox Jewish community is grateful to Senators Rob Portman and Maggie Hassan for their introduction of the Pray Safe Act. This legislation, when enacted and implemented, will enable the greater security and safety of our community’s synagogues and other community’s houses of worship. It is sad that we need this kind of legislation – but we do – and we call upon Congress to pass it right away.”
NOTE: The Pray Safe Act directs the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with Department of Justice (DOJ), the Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and any other agencies that the Secretary determines appropriate, to establish and codify a Federal Clearinghouse on Safety and Security Best Practices for Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) and Houses of Worship (HoW). The Federal Clearinghouse will inform FBOs and HoW on best practices and recommendations for safety and security. In addition, it will provide information on available federal resources and grant programs relevant to the safety and security of faith-based organizations and houses of worship.