DHS Issues Advisory to Churches, Other Groups Amid ‘Heightened Threat Environment’
By American Faith – May 30, 2023
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued an advisory stating that the United States remains in a “heightened threat environment” with “lone offenders and small groups motivated by a range of ideological beliefs and personal grievances” posing a significant risk.
Churches and faith-based institutions are among the potential targets for violent acts, according to the advisory, which is effective until November 24, 2023.
The warning, which was distributed via the National Terrorism Advisory System, emphasizes that individuals motivated by different ideologies, including domestic violent extremists (DVEs), are attempting to “motivate supporters to conduct attacks in the Homeland.”
The bulletin particularly warns against the potential for violence stemming from the 2024 general election cycle and legislative or judicial decisions related to sociopolitical issues.
With a spotlight on faith-based institutions, the bulletin noted that a racially motivated violent extremist (RMVE) was arrested in March 2023, charged with “attempting to use an improvised incendiary device to burn down a church in Ohio that was planning to host a drag-themed event.”
Further incidents reported by the DHS include shootings in Texas and Tennessee, and plots against electrical substations in Maryland.
The threat isn’t confined to domestic actors, as the bulletin states that “foreign terrorists continue to use media to call for lone offender attacks in the West, condemn US foreign policy, and attempt to expand their reach and grow global support networks.”
The DHS has offered a slew of resources to aid in staying safe during these times.
The Department urges the public to “be prepared for emergency situations and remain aware of circumstances that may place you at risk,” also suggesting vigilance online to recognize and resist “false or misleading narratives.”
DHS is active in its response to these threats, collaborating with partners across government levels, the private sector, and local communities.
Some of these efforts include sharing timely and actionable information with partners and conducting recurring threat briefings with private sector and state partners.
They also launched the Prevention Resource Finder (PRF) website in March 2023, a comprehensive repository of federal resources designed to help communities protect themselves from targeted violence and terrorism.
For faith-based organizations specifically, the DHS Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships “continues to engage a coalition of faith-based and community organizations.”
This engagement is designed to build the capacity of these organizations to protect their places of worship and community spaces.
Despite these threats, the DHS assures the public that they continue to work diligently with partners to identify and prevent all forms of targeted violence and terrorism, to support law enforcement efforts to keep our communities safe.
The advisory encourages the public to report suspicious activities and threats of violence to local law enforcement, FBI Field Offices, or local Fusion Centers, reinforcing their motto, “If You See Something, Say Something.”
Read the full bulletin below: