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'A Very Dangerous Time in America': DHS Sec Endorses Protections for Religious Groups After NY, TX Attacks


ABOVE:  Gary Bauer, the commissioner of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, appeared on the Thursday edition of CBN News' Faith Nation to discuss the Department of Homeland Security's recommendations and how the government should respond to protect religious groups. Faith Nation is seen weeknights on the CBN News Channel. For a programming schedule, click here

The Department of Homeland Security has been under fire for not doing enough to guarantee the safety of people of faith. 

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf is now directing his agency to review an internal report with recommendations to prevent violence against religious groups, like last month's attacks at a Texas church and a Hanukkah celebration in New York.

The report proposes a new leadership post to oversee faith-based programs, more consistent training for religious groups, and for Congress to increase grant money for faith-based groups to use towards security.

Wolf called the matter vital to US national security. He instructed the agency's component leaders to explain within two weeks how they will respond to guidance outlined in a recent internal report focused on preventing violent crime targeting faith-based groups, according to The Washington Post

"The right to practice religion free of interference or fear is one of our nation's most fundamental and indelible rights," Wolf wrote in his memo. "As such, the targeting of houses of worship by violent extremists of any ideology is particularly abhorrent and must be prevented."

The Homeland Security Advisory Council found a pattern of domestic extremism and hate crimes over the past decade — shootings, arson attacks and bombings targeting churches, synagogues, a Sikh temple and mosques across several states — that has put Americans' freedom "under significant stress," according to the report. 

"If people start to change the way they behave, pray or even what they wear when they want to go to a house of worship of their choice, then we're in a very dangerous time in America," Paul Goldenberg, a longtime security expert who co-chaired the advisory council alongside retired Marine Gen. John R. Allen, told the newspaper

"This report should be converted into an implementation plan at the earliest possible moment," it reads. 

DHS has held emergency-response training events for religious leaders, according to the Post. The department held such an exercise for Jewish leaders last April after the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. 

Read the Homeland Security Advisory Council report here

Meanwhile, Nevada Sen. Jacky Rosen (D) also addressed the rising tide of anti-Semitism around the world this week at a hearing for the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. 

"This epidemic has been on the rise as we know and it must be taken seriously, anti-Semitism, acts of hate – they are growing at an alarming rate. Earlier this year the State Department called the rise in anti-Semitism worse than it has been in decades, and its impacts go far beyond the Jewish community." 

The Democrat from Nevada added a warning from the State Department that "wherever anti-Semitism has gone unchecked, the persecution of others has been present or not far behind."

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