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Legislation would combat religious hate, increase security

February 9, 2024 - As antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hatred continue to rise, Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) on Thursday renewed her push to protect places of worship. Porter katie porter california congresswomanintroduced the Pray Safe Act, co-led by Reps. María Elvira Salazar (R-FL) and Troy A. Carter, Sr. (D-LA), which would establish a federal resource for nonprofits and places of worship to get information on best practices to keep their organizations safe and secure.

“Too often, our places of worship are targets for individuals filled with hate—including here in Orange County when Geneva Presbyterian Church was attacked by a mass shooter,” said Rep. Porter. “In a time of rising fear and violence, our faith communities need strong federal partnership to keep Americans safe. I’ll continue to work with colleagues across the aisle to pass the Pray Safe Act, combat hate, and bring our country together.”

“Americans must be protected in their place of worship,” said Rep. Salazar. “I’m proud to co-lead this bill to create a federal repository of best security practices and grant opportunities to improve safety and security for Miami’s churches, synagogues, and religious organizations.”

“The Pray Safe Act will enhance the security and safety measures for houses of worship, faith-based organizations, and other non-profits. Establishing a federal clearinghouse will allow these organizations to access information on safety and security best practices, available federal grant programs, and training opportunities. No one should feel unsafe or threatened in their place of worship,” said Congressman Troy A. Carter, Sr. (LA-02).

The Pray Safe Act requires the Department of Homeland Security to establish a Federal Clearinghouse, in conjunction with the Department of Justice and the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, to serve as a central source for nonprofit organizations, faith-based organizations, and houses of worship to access safety and security standards, federal resources, and grant information. Companion legislation in the Senate is led by Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Ron Johnson (R-WI). The Pray Safe Act passed the Senate unanimously in 2022. 

Rep. Porter has a strong relationship with California’s interfaith community, and she has worked tirelessly to protect religious freedom and combat hatred. In an Oversight Committee hearing, Rep. Porter brought attention to religious disparities on the terrorism watchlist, following up on a letter she sent to President Biden expressing concern over continued religious discrimination. Rep. Porter is also an original cosponsor of the Disarm Hate Act to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals convicted of hate crimes. 
Source: Congresswoman Katie Porter