We are in the midst of a sharp increase in homegrown violent extremism (HVE), owing specifically to those embracing right-wing extremist ideologies. The data is overwhelming: the right-wing terrorist threat that has been festering and growing for years, is now at a critical level of participation and extremist action. The result is terrorist attacks, and in recent months, those attacks have been directed at faith groups and houses of worship, particularly targeting Jewish, Muslim and African American communities.

Consider these examples:

  • On October 27, 2018, the shooting at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue was the deadliest attack against Jews in American history. Eleven people were murdered.
  • On April 27, 2019, exactly six months later, a shooting at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in California left one dead and three injured.
  • Also in April, a Louisiana man was arrested and charged with hate crimes after setting fire to three churches with predominantly African American congregations.

Facing these threats, the Safe Communities Institute regularly offers a seminar for faith communities on protecting their houses of worship. The presentation explains how the United States has arrived at this juncture, along with the globalization of the movement. Subsequent to an outline describing the landscape of the current threat, attendees receive action items that houses of worship, members of congregations and the community can engage to increase their awareness and reduce the risk of violence and other criminal activity.

The presentation is delivered by SCI Director Dr. Erroll Southers and is free for houses of worship and faith communities. (Note: Events can be scheduled for any weekday but are not offered on weekends.) Contact SCI for more information.

Download the Protecting Houses of Worship flyer.

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