BALTIMORE, Md. — Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore joined two U.S. senators and several religious leaders this week in calling for additional federal funding for security measures at religious sites in the U.S.
U.S. Senators Benjamin Cardin and Christopher Van Hollen, both Democrats from Maryland, joined Archbishop Lori and a group of other faith leaders at a Jan. 13 press conference outside the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation in Pikesville.
The senators have proposed to quadruple the funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program in next year's federal budget. This increase in funding would offer an additional $360 million per year to strengthen security measures for religious and non-profit institutions.
“I commend our Senate leaders for calling us together today to condemn these acts, but also to take concrete and necessary measures to do everything we can to protect the rights of all people,” Archbishop Lori, according to the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
The proposal follows a rise in anti-Semitic violence throughout the country in recent months.
In October 2018, a gunman killed 11 people and injured several others at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue. In April 2019, a shooting at Poway Synagogue in Poway, California left one dead and three injured. Last month, three civilians and a police detective were killed in a shooting at a kosher market in Jersey City, New Jersey. Two weeks later, a stabbing left five people injured during a Hanukkah celebration at a rabbi’s home in New York.
Catholic leaders have repeatedly denounced the violence and called for respect for people of all faiths.
“We are deeply disturbed by the recent apparent rise in anti-Semitism, in particular, the violent attacks that took place last year during the Hanukkah celebration in New York and on the kosher market in Jersey City,” said Archbishop Lori at the press conference.
Rabbi Shmuel Silber of Suburban Orthodox Toras Chaim Congregation vowed not to give in to fear amid the recent attacks on Jewish communities.
“We are emboldened and we will continue to shepherd our respective communities in our faith traditions and never bow to hate and bigotry,” Silber said, according to the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
At the press conference, Van Hollen cited FBI reports showing that anti-Semitic attacks have increased by 35% from 2014 to 2018. Cardin pointed to steps taken by European governments to protect religious institutions from being vulnerable to terrorism.
Speakers also pointed to recent attacks against mosques and churches, such as the shooting last month that killed two at West Freeway Church of Christ in Texas.
In addition to supporting legislative action, Lori said, “we also continue to put our faith in the simple act of coming together, standing side by side, to demonstrate that love will always be a greater power than evil.”