Lawmakers working to combat threats to religious groups


WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Hate crimes are continuing to rise across the country and religious groups are often the target.

That’s why lawmakers are trying to get groups more money to combat rising threats.

Many religious groups have experienced tragedy in recent years, such as the 2015 brutal murder of worshipers at a South Carolina church, the 2017 bombing of a Minnesota mosque and the 2018 shooting massacre of Jewish people at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

FBI statistics show hate crimes targeting places of worship have spiked in America over the past three years.

“It’s an unfortunate and tragic fact of life now,” said Sen. Gary Peters, a Democrat from Michigan.

Peters is pushing a plan to give millions of more dollars to religious groups and nonprofits threatened by the rise of domestic terrorism. 

“It’s sad to say, but we have to make sure that those organizations can defend themselves,” Peters said.

The five-year grant would set aside $75 million for religious groups and other nonprofits to purchase training, security systems or hire guards to prevent attacks.

“We have to fight back against this,” said Travis Weber of the Christian-based Family Research Council.

The FRC has joined with other groups like NAACP and the Jewish Federation in welcoming the initiative.

“It’s improper and wrong. Every American should be able to choose their religious beliefs and live them out in peace,” Weber said.

Unlike some groups who blame President Donald Trump’s rhetoric for the spike in attacks, Weber credits the administration for advancing religious freedom.

“We look at the Trump Administration and they’re trying to promote this worldwide,” Weber said.

Peters’ plan is receiving support from both sides of the aisle.

But lawmakers admit more needs to be done to solve hate in America and they are working on other bills to address the issue.

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