The Department of Homeland Security has announced the appointment of a new, 25-member faith-based advisory council to assist Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in finding ways to protect houses of worship.
The council consists of Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh clergy plus some law enforcement and nonprofit faith group leaders.
The safety of religious congregations has been a growing concern for a decade — since the shooting at the Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Sikh temple in 2012. It was followed by the massacre at Emanuel AME in Charleston, South Carolina, a mostly black congregation, in 2015; the killing of nearly two dozen worshippers at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas; the killing of 11 Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018.
And those are only the most notable mass killings. Other acts of violence include a shooting at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills in June that left three senior adults dead.
The council is expected to help the department evaluate the effectiveness of existing security-related programs and improve coordination and sharing of threat and security-related information.
The advisory council’s first meeting will take place online Oct. 6. (TAB Media contributed)