THE Government has made £1 million available for places of worship and other faith buildings that are vulnerable to attack, after the Finsbury Park terrorist incident that targeted Muslims (News, 19 June).
On Sunday, the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, announced the Vulnerable Faith Institutions Scheme, which will pay for churches, mosques, temples, and other related religious centres to install security measures such as CCTV cameras, alarms, bollards, automatic gates, or strengthened fencing.
The extra £1 million is an extension of the £2.4 million Places of Worship scheme. Launched last summer, this has already made one £400,000 tranche of grants to 45 churches, 12 mosques, one Hindu temple, and one Sikh gurdwara (News, 25 November).
“People must feel free to practise their faith without fear of violence or abuse,” Ms Rudd said.
The fund was initially set up in the week that an 85-year-old Roman Catholic priest was murdered in his church in Normandy, in northern France, in an attack for which Islamic State claimed responsibility (News, 29 July 2016). It also followed the spike in hate crime after the EU referendum result.
The new funding is also available to religious institutions that are not strictly places of worship, such as community centres. The worshippers targeted in the Finsbury Park attack had just left Muslim Welfare House, a combined Islamic community centre and mosque.
To be eligible for funding, a place of worship must provide evidence either that it has been the subject of an attack on racial, religious, or ideological grounds, or that it is vulnerable to such an attack. The application period opened last Friday and closes on 17 August.
Decline and despair “not inevitable”. Preaching at a service for the new Parliament in St Margaret’s, Westminster, on Wednesday of last week, the Archbishop of Canterbury said that, at a time of national uncertainty, politicians must turn to God.
“This Parliament will no more be an inevitable tale of decline and despair or conflict than at any time in the past. It is what we, under the sovereignty of God, in care for one another — and above all in holy and selfless living — choose to make it that will give it its history,” he said.