The U.S. bishops are asking Congress to provide at least $200 million in federal funds for grants that improve security for houses of worship and other nonprofit organizations.
In a letter to congressional leaders, written last month and released to the public this week, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) urged lawmakers to include additional funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) in a package that provides security assistance to Israel.
The federal government says that the NSGP “provides funding support for target hardening and other physical security enhancements and activities to nonprofit organizations that are at high risk of terrorist attack.”
New York archbishop Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chair of the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty, said in the letter that the grants “enable vulnerable communities to gather for worship, prayer, and service without fear of being attacked.”
Dolan in the letter stated that “the Jewish community is especially vulnerable,” citing “stories of attacks” since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, as well as reports of sharp rises in antisemitic incidents.
The Anti-Defamation League said in November that antisemitic incidents in the United States had skyrocketed by more than 300% year over year since the Israel-Hamas war began. In mid-October, meanwhile, Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, a private Catholic university, expedited the transfer process for Jewish students who experience antisemitic discrimination at other universities.
“Muslims are vulnerable too,” the archbishop said in the letter, citing the killing of a 6-year-old Muslim Palestinian boy in Illinois, which resulted in first-degree murder charges for the alleged attacker.
Catholic churches have also faced multiple attacks in recent years. The USCCB estimates more than 300 attacks on Catholic churches in the U.S. since May 2020.
The archbishop said in the letter that the U.S. bishops were joining the Jewish Orthodox Union in calling for “at least $200 million for the NSGP” in the military aid package.
“We ask that you work to ensure that these funds can be made available quickly, in a manner appropriate to the dire situation,” Dolan said in the letter.