Faith-based communities seek to improve their security

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – The FBI warns of a growing risk of attacks on places of worship in the United States and urges these sites to step up security. They report that in 2021, hate crimes reached their highest level in more than a decade, with places of worship seeing the most.

A hostage situation at Temple Beth Israel in Fort Worth, Texas is the latest example of attacks on faith communities. Now, local religious leaders must seek to ensure the safety of their constituents. Something Rabbi Binah Wing of Temple Beth-El is already doing.

“So we applied for a grant from DHS and have been improving our security since then, so that’s nothing new,” Wing said.

According to federal authorities, many of the attacks can be traced to online forums that refer to things like Jewish targets linked to COVID-19 conspiracy theories and the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. Mohamed Elghobashy of the Muslim Association of Greater Rockford, blames a lack of education for these theories.

“We do our best to be moderate, balanced and teach people to be accepting of others,” Elghobashy said.

Each church should make its own security plans. Pastor Steve Cassell of Lena’s Beloved Church says she runs self-defense classes.

Cassell says, “We have many people in our congregation who have come through our congregation and also in the community who have taken self-defense classes or hidden carry classes at church.”

Another way to improve security is to hire real armed guards. The Muslim Association of Greater Rockford has announced that it will hire outside security guards for its mass gatherings.

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