NYS Offers Grants To Help Increase Security at Places of Worship
I hate to admit that this thought has even crossed my mind but I would be lying if I said it hadn't. On a few occasions as I've sat in my church, I've wondered just how vulnerable we would be should there be a shooting.
My grandfather was a pastor and I grew up in the church and I've seen pretty much everything but a shooting is one thing I've not seen nor do I ever wish to see. But, I can remember when I was a kid and churches were sacred places. People walked through the doors and felt safe because the church was a respected place.
Look at the movies or even at the news. How many times have you seen a person find sanctuary from authorities and criminals alike within the walls of the church? Yet something happened along the way and the holy place became a target itself where no one was safe.
The church that my family goes to now is a tiny backroad country church with a whopping congregation size of 12 people and that's on a busy Sunday. However, my husband and I used to attend a mega-church when we lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and although everyone and anyone were welcome, security was tight - especially in the children's wing.
What an unfortunate thing that churches have had to tighten security to the point that they have and not just to protect children but the congregation as a whole.
It's not just protestant and catholic churches under attack. Synagogues, mosques, religious centers - "All faiths are under attack in America by radicals and extremists," says Alon Stivi, a security consultant for synagogues, Jewish community centers, and day schools.
In 2016, the federal government provided the faith community with $25 million to cover security costs. In 2021, that amount had risen to $180 million.
While federal money is available to help with security at your house of worship or faith-based center, so is money from New York state. In the fall of 2021, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that $43 million dollars in state grants are available to "to help nonprofit organizations improve the security of their facilities to better protect those at risk of hate crimes or attacks because of their ideology, beliefs, or mission."
Is your faith-based place of worship or center safe? You can learn more about the safety grants that can be applied for in New York state here and you can learn about the federal grants available here.