Today I was honored to participate in a special event hosted by the White House and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which brought together a diverse group of federal government officials, community and faith-based leaders, and advocacy groups to talk about an issue that impacts far too many people in our nation: religious discrimination.
From March to June of 2016, DHS, DOJ and other federal agencies hosted a series of roundtables across the country with community stakeholders to discuss issues such as religious bias and obstacles to religious practice. Today, DOJ released a report on these roundtables and, along with other federal agencies, announced new steps they are taking to address religious discrimination.
Building safe and resilient communities that protect religious freedom is a fundamental part of the Department’s mission. On behalf of DHS, the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) works closely with communities to promote tolerance and ensure safety at houses of worship.
- CRCL holds quarterly roundtables with demographically and religiously diverse communities in 17 cities across the country. These roundtables provide an open forum for communities to discuss religious intolerance that can result in hate crimes or bias-motivated threats at the local level. CRCL also provides resources for these communities to develop emergency plans and enhance security measures at their houses of worship
- In addition to our roundtables, CRCL also works with international partners through the UN Human Rights Council, to train countries on how to promote religious tolerance through implementation of Resolution 16/18. Since 2013, CRCL has delivered training to officials in Bosnia, Indonesia, Greece, and Spain.
- Also, FEMA and the DHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships provide resources, training, and guidance on how to protect their houses of worship.
We will continue to work with DOJ, other interagency partners, and community stakeholders to overcome the challenges to religious freedom and safeguard the fundamental rights of all that we encounter in our homeland security mission. More information about CRCL can be found here.