Amid a spike in hate crimes nationwide, New Hampshire's Democratic congressional delegation announced Friday that seven houses of worship in the state are getting funding to help bolster security.
The $150,000 in grants will go to four churches, two temples and a chabad. The delegation also announced the state was getting more than $4 million from the State Homeland Security Program to support terrorism prevention and preparedness efforts.
"As domestic and foreign terrorists alike target places of worship, malls, and other gathering places, it's sadly more important than ever that community organizations have the resources they need to mitigate the impact of an attack — and that local and state law enforcement have robust infrastructure to prevent and respond to attacks," Sen. Maggie Hassan said in a statement.
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Overall, statistics released by the FBI late last year showed hate crimes in the United States rose 17% in 2017 compared to the previous year, the third straight annual increase. There were 7,175 hate crime incidents in 2017. There was also a rash of anonymous bomb threats in 2017 made against Jewish institutions, which prompted Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen to join about 100 of their colleagues in calling for the Trump administration to take action to address the threats.
"It is a sad reality that churches, synagogues, mosques and other places where the faithful gather have been sites of violent attacks," Rep. Chris Pappas said in a statement. "Nothing is more important than the safety and security of our families and neighbors, and these federal funds will help secure vulnerable facilities and local law enforcement have the resources and training needed to keep people safe."
The delegation said the funding from the Nonprofit Security Grant Program will go to the Bedford Presbyterian Church; Bethany Congregational Christian Church in Greenland; First Congregational Church in Littleton; Chabad of New Hampshire in Manchester; Temple Adath Yeshurun in Manchester; and Temple Beth Abraham of Nashua. It is the first time the state is getting money from the program, which provides $10 million to secure religious institutions nationwide.
The $4.1 million in grants will be used to provide equipment and training for state and local law enforcement agencies. It is part of $415 million in counterterrorism grants given out nationwide.
"Terrorism poses a significant threat at home and abroad, and it is critical that we do everything we can to combat these hateful and deadly acts of violence," Rep. Annie Kuster said in statement. "This funding will bolster our state's security efforts - including at places of worship - and help prevent attacks before they happen, as well as save lives when they do occur."