by Christian Wade
Churches, synagogues and mosques in Connecticut are getting more money to bolster their facilities against terror attacks or hate crimes, according to Gov. Ned Lamont.
Lamont said state funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program will expand to $5 million this year. The grants can reimburse nonprofits for the cost of metal detectors and surveillance cameras, adding more lighting, fencing, or locks and other security upgrades.
Lamont said the additional money will help fortify places of worship that terrorists and hate groups are increasingly targeting.
“These are places where people should feel safe and are protected,” the Democrat said in a statement. “These organizations provide so many vital services to our communities, and these grants are another way that we can partner with them.”
This is the third round of grants released under the program. More than $4.9 million in grants were provided to nonprofits in 2021, while another $4.9 million was made available last year. In December, the Connecticut State Bond Commission, which Lamont leads as chairperson, approved an allocation of $5 million for the latest round.
Nonprofits that qualify for the funds can receive a maximum of $50,000 per building. Allowable activities include security infrastructure improvements to enhance security and target hardening of structures based on security assessments, according to the Lamont administration.
The money for security upgrades follows a surge of high-profile attacks on the Jewish community, which have raised security concerns among religious leaders and civil rights groups who have noted a surge in reports of bias and hate crimes.
In October, FBI Director Christopher Wray said antisemitism in the U.S. has reached “historic levels” in the wake of violence in Israel and Gaza, with said 60% of all religious-based hate crimes targeting Jewish people.
“This is not a time for panic, but it is a time for vigilance,” Wray said at the time. “We shouldn’t stop conducting our daily lives – going to schools, houses of worship, and so forth – but we should be vigilant.”
The Anti-Defamation League says that antisemitic incidents in the U.S. skyrocketed by more than 300% year over year since the Israel-Hamas war began.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security already issues grants of up to $100,000 to houses of worship, day schools and nonprofits in major U.S. cities. President Joe Biden has proposed another $200 million in funding for the program.
In November, a group of U.S. bishops called on Congress to approve the additional funding, saying it would allow “vulnerable communities to gather for worship, prayer, and service without fear of being attacked.”
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Christian Wade is a contributor to The Center Square.