Rogers, Thompson Call for New Focus on Threats to Religious Institutions at DHS

House Homeland Leaders Say, “International terrorists and extremists inspired by hate-fueled ideology remain a threat”

WASHINGTON – Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, and Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), Chairman, today called on Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan to create a Homeland Security Advisory Council Subcommittee focused on threats to places of worship and religious institutions. This follows a wave of recent attacks on religious institutions across the globe.

“We urge you to establish a Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) Subcommittee focused on threats to religious institutions,” Rogers and Thompson said in a letter to McAleenan. “In the past 45 days alone, we have witnessed the shootings at mosques in New Zealand, suicide bombings at churches in Sri Lanka, arson at three African American churches in Louisiana, and a shooting at a California synagogue.  Just over six months ago, we were shaken by the vicious shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh…We must be more vigilant against international and domestic terrorists and those inspired by hate-fueled ideology.”

 

Find the full letter here and below:

 

The depraved terrorist attacks against the Chabad of Poway synagogue near San Diego on Passover this Saturday, churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, and mosques in New Zealand in March, are stark reminders of the continued terrorist threat to religious institutions and other soft targets.  We join with you in condemning these attacks. 

 

Freedom of religion is a Constitutional right for all people in America and inherent in that right is the ability to worship without fear.  While there are no known threats to U.S.-based religious institutions, we know too well that both international and domestic extremists are increasingly targeting churches, synagogues, and mosques.    

 

The Department of Homeland Security has a number of programs and outreach efforts designed to enhance information sharing, training, and security for religious institutions across the United States.  While we support these ongoing efforts, much more remains to be done. As part of that effort, we urge you to establish a Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) Subcommittee focused on threats to religious institutions.  It is essential that the Department convene a group of religious practitioners and security experts to assess current and emerging threats, information sharing protocols, and the effectiveness of ongoing Departmental programs. 

 

The HSAC is uniquely designed to quickly bring together experts to provide information and recommendations to DHS leadership.  Creating a HSAC Subcommittee will ensure that you are receiving timely information from those most impacted by these despicable attacks on religious communities.  

 

In the past 45 days alone, we have witnessed the shootings at mosques in New Zealand, suicide bombings at churches in Sri Lanka, arson at three African American churches in Louisiana, and a shooting at a California synagogue.  Just over six months ago, we were shaken by the vicious shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. 

 

Sadly, this is not a new phenomenon.  There was a shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin in 2012, a shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015, and the planned bombing of a mosque in Garden City, Kansas in 2016. We must be more vigilant against international and domestic terrorists and those inspired by hate-fueled ideology. 

 

Thank you for your service.  We look forward to working with you on this and many other urgent issues facing the homeland. 

 

###

Contact: Nicole Hager

202-226-8417

CONTACT US

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Sending

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?