The Trump administration has authorized millions in federal grants for churches and other houses of worship and nonprofit organizations for the purpose of defending against violence amid rising hostility to religion, specifically anti-Semitism.
In remarks last week in the East Room of the White House before a gathering of American mayors about the economy and community renewal, President Donald Trump noted that "in the face of attacks on synagogues, mosques, and churches in our community — something that is just so horrible — we must work together to reject the monstrous evils of anti-Semitism and anti-religious bigotry."
"I will sign legislation authorizing $375 million for federal grants to help houses of worship and other faith-based and non-profit organizations defend against violence," Trump said to applause, adding, "It’s crazy; what’s going on is crazy."
"We are committed to building a nation where every community is secure, every family is safe, and every child can grow up in dignity and in peace."
The bipartisan authorization, which substantially increased the funding for the Nonprofit Security Grants Program, allows houses of worship to apply for $100,000 grants to be used for things like fencing, cameras, stronger doors and the hiring of security professionals. The bill passed the U.S. House by voice vote and passed through the Senate via Unanimous Consent.
The move follows increasing anti-Semitic violence and attacks in New York and New Jersey and, most notably, two separate synagogue shootings that occurred in Poway, California, in April and in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in October 2018.
For Christian churches, the issue of taking more steps toward greater security measures rose to the fore following the massacre at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where 26 people were shot and killed in November 2017.
Such considerations are being discussed again after a shooter entered a church in White Settlement, Texas, late last month and began shooting. Two were killed but the shooter was taken out by an armed member of the congregation, Jack Wilson, who was the head of the congregation's volunteer security team. His quick action was praised as heroic and was credited with preventing further carnage.
The Texas Tribune reported last week that the Krugerville, Texas-based National Organization for Church Security and Safety Management has seen an increase in interest in the past few weeks in light of the recent church shooting.
For someone to go through the training, churches pay approximately $800 per person to be fully certified, which includes the program and the state licensing.