The Faith-Based Community Center Protection Act could help Jewish community centers and other faith-based community centers offset the cost of increased security.

Senators want $20 million for JCCs and other faith-based community centers

WASHINGTON (RNS) Security cameras, guards and locks at Jewish community centers don't come cheap.

This enhanced security — already in place at many JCCs in the wake of scores of bomb threats in recent weeks — will tax these nonprofits' budgets and divert funds that could be used for their preschools, gyms and programs for the elderly offered to Jews and non-Jews alike.

Two senators — a Democrat and a Republican — say Congress should help.

Their bill would allot an additional $20 million to improve security at these centers — whether they are Jewish or affiliated with another faith — through an existing Department of Homeland Security grant program.

The funds are not designated for synagogues, mosques or churches, though attacks against houses of worship and religiously affiliated cemeteries have spiked in recent months — from the burnings of mosques to a bullet shot through an Indiana synagogue.

The Faith-Based Community Center Protection Act would also double the penalty for making a false bomb threat from five to 10 years in prison.

"This legislation would help ensure that community centers like the JCC's have the added protection they need and can focus on serving the community, while the FBI and our Justice Department track down those responsible," according to a statement from Sen. Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat who filed the legislation Monday (Feb. 27) with Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

So far they have one co-sponsor: Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.

Since Jan. 9, more than 100 bomb threats have been called in to Jewish institutions across the country — 77 of them to JCCs in dozens of states. In no case have explosives been found, but the threats have prompted evacuations and rattled JCC staff and clients.

Neither the FBI nor Homeland Security has announced progress in the case.


  1. Don’t care what the intention is, no public funds should be paid to any religious organization.

  2. Only a fool can’t see the difference between giving a religious organization money and giving people money that they freely choose to spend on religion.

    And no. I’m NOT actually in favor of school vouchers. I just think people against them on the basis of “freedom of religion” (not why I am against them) should be asked why they also support other things that could potentially be used to spend on religion by the people the services benefit.

    Are you against welfare too?? I know someone who pays part of their welfare check into Huququ’llah. Is that the Government subsidizing the Baha’i Faith then??

  3. You’ve amended your position, that’s fine. No need for insults.

  4. Despite the title of the legislation, I don’t think community centers need be classified as religious organizations, their purpose and function centers on building links among members and residents of a specified geographical space of whatever size, not primarily or even secondarily promoting the religious views of their guests and members.

  5. OK, lets end the office of Faith Based Initiatives. 🙂

    Actually its that no public funds should be paid for the furtherance of religious belief. If you are going to take the position, at least represent it the right way.

    In this case the funds are going towards what can be called public safety and law enforcement measures.

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