Securing Places of Worship: A Guide by Homeland Security

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Places of Worship
Places of Worship

Guidance for Religious Groups Nationwide: Places of Worship

Places of worship, this document offers straightforward and useful advice for religious groups all over the country. In a time of heightened tensions in faith-based communities, the Department of Homeland Security has unveiled a new guide aimed at assisting places of worship in safeguarding their members and facilities. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has put out a 16-page document called “Physical Security Performance Goals for Faith-Based Communities.” 

Collaborative Efforts with Faith Groups

CISA, working closely with faith groups, seeks to help them prepare for and prevent targeted violence against their facilities and members. According to David Mussington, who oversees infrastructure security at CISA, the guide is designed to offer usable information in an easily understandable format.

Objectives of the Guidance

The primary goal of the guide is to provide clear, jargon-free information, making it accessible to faith communities, specifically those seeking assistance for their places of worship. Mussington emphasizes that the guide encompasses a range of measures, including physical security goals and emergency response planning tailored to the unique needs of places of worship.

Practical Measures for Enhanced Security

The guidance outlines practical steps that faith groups can take to better protect themselves. From maintaining trimmed landscaping to prevent hiding places for potential attackers to controlling the information disclosed during live-streamed services, the guide offers actionable advice.

Emergency Response Planning and Memorials

Acknowledging the need for preparedness, the guide encourages places of worship to have a plan in place for emergencies. This means having special safe places for members to come together and designated areas for honoring those affected by unfortunate events in places of worship.

Government Assistance and Resources

Recognizing the financial aspect of security improvements, the guide informs places of worship about federal government grants available for such purposes. Additionally, it highlights various resources developed by the Department of Homeland Security to support communities, especially places of worship, in their security endeavors.

Statement from Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas emphasizes the commitment to protecting every American’s right to live, express, and worship their faith freely and safely. The physical security performance goals outlined in the guide aim to provide cost-effective and readily implementable strategies.

Wide Distribution Channels for Guidance

Wide Distribution Channels for Guidance

The guide will be distributed through CISA offices nationwide and the agency’s network of protective security advisers. These advisers, totaling around 125 across the country, collaborate with diverse communities to offer security advice for places of worship.

Addressing Community Concerns

The release of this guidance coincides with deep unease in many faith communities across America. Jewish communities, in particular, have expressed concerns about rising antisemitism, heightened further by the recent Hamas attack on Israel.

Agency Response to Increased Threats

In response to elevated threats, Secretary Mayorkas confirms that Homeland Security has actively responded to an increase in threats against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab American communities, including places of worship, in the U.S.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the “Physical Security Performance Goals for Faith-Based Communities” guide serves as a valuable resource in ensuring the safety of places of worship. Its comprehensive approach, combined with the commitment of Homeland Security, aims to empower faith communities to thrive securely in an environment of heightened tensions.

FAQs

How can faith communities benefit from the guidance provided by Homeland Security?   

Ans: The guide offers practical steps, emergency response planning, and information on government grants, empowering faith communities to enhance their security in places of worship.

What role does landscaping play in the security measures outlined in the guide?   

Ans:   Maintaining trimmed landscaping is recommended to prevent potential hiding places for attackers, contributing to overall security, particularly in places of worship.

How does the guide address concerns specific to Jewish communities post-Hamas attack?

Ans:   The guide acknowledges the concerns within Jewish communities and is part of Homeland Security’s response to increased threats against various faith communities, including places of worship.

What is the significance of having a predetermined spot for congregation members during emergencies?

Ans: Having a designated spot ensures a coordinated and safe gathering point for congregation members in case of emergencies in places of worship.

Where can faith communities access the guide and additional support from Homeland Security?

Ans: The guide will be distributed through CISA offices nationwide, and protective security advisers will collaborate with communities to provide support for securing places of worship.

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