Sadly, the selection of the DHS office that deals with faith-based organization was an inappropriate choice. See this article in Wash Post: Homeland Security official resigns after comments linking blacks to ‘laziness’ and ‘promiscuity’ come to light
From the Church Law and Tax website: How Churches and FEMA Can Work Together.
Article based on interview with Craig Fugate, former Administrator of FEMA.
From CNN: The truth about church shootings. Some excerpts:
“… Drake cautions against over-interpreting the increase in church shootings. People of faith are not being targeted because of their religion, he said. Rather, the shootings are part of an overall — and alarming — increase in mass shootings within the country at large.
In some ways, Drake said, houses of worship are simply the most “convenient venue” for attackers who harbor grudges against former lovers, spouses or friends. Many sanctuaries have regular schedules, lack robust security and proudly bear open-door policies. They are designed to attract the least and the lost, and to welcome them into a loving community, even if that sometimes has terrible consequences.”
Good idea to get a refresher on this sad topic: https://www.dhs.gov/active-shooter-preparedness
I read recently that the Trump Administration is reconsidering the current prohibition on paying for disaster damaged at houses of worship (HOWs). I asked Peter Gudaitis, Executive Director of New York Disaster Interfaith Services and also President of the National Disaster Interfaiths Network for his opinion, knowing he had extensive experience with this issue. What follows is the essence of his reply to me:
I don’t think the President has the authority – a change would require Stafford Act reform. [The Stafford Act is the enabling legislation for FEMA.] Does this administration/congress have the appetite for rebuilding non-Christian facilities?
In many cases, the cost of disaster damage to HOWs would be astronomical – many historic buildings could cost 100s of millions to rebuild. Either way, I think broadly it’s a bad precedent.
I don’t think the federal government should rebuild sanctuaries/worship spaces, period. Religious social services spaces maybe/yes. But only if they provide non-sectarian services – not program spaces that convert, proselytize, conversation therapy, food services requiring bible study first….that’s why this is a slippery slope Like homeowners and businesses , all religious facilities should have appropriate flood and risk insurance. If they were eligible and had no insurance, no assistance. Why is it that banks don’t require flood insurance but do require homeowners insurance?
However, if a religious facility provides pre-approved mass care services or is requested to stand up mass care or recovery operations and those facilities are damaged then they should be reimbursed for direct costs.
Your comments are invited.
From the Jewish Community Relations Center in NYC, a list of useful documents on Security Guidance.
In New York City, there is a model organization in place to help houses of worship deal with and recovery from disasters. It it the NY Disaster Interfaith Services. The organization developed many useful programs, documents, and tip sheets after Superstorm Sandy, which should be useful to those helping with response and recovery from Harvey and Irma.
One example is a recent offer to help with Volunteer Group Housing in Housto> Here is a link to the NYDIS Volunteer Group Housing Program which NYDIS developed to organize and support the voluntary rebuild efforts in NYC post-Sandy. Some documents produced by the program include a Host Site Handbook, Volunteer Group Handbook, and a Guide to Writing a Host Site Manual
Each document includes applicable form sets which can be found separately on the link provided above. The program was designed with special concentration on religious and cultural needs of volunteers and host sites, and will provide organizations with the knowledge and resources necessary to begin and sustain long-term volunteer housing programs. These documents include formative advice based on sector best practices, extensive research, partnerships with NYC Sandy volunteer housing programs, and what was the NYC Volunteer Group Housing Task Force.
Another is this Community Emergency Management Toolkit.
A 13-page booklet on How to Communicate During a Disaster. It probably could be used as a poster.
If you know people in TX and LA who belong to a house of worship damaged by H. Harvey, please tell them about this site.