Infrastructure Protection Resource Sheet - Religious Facilities

Religious facilities serve millions of people of all faiths and denominations throughout the United States. These facilities are generally open-access public assembly venues, and terrorists have successfully targeted them in the past.

Threats of Most Concern to Religious Facilities Include:

  • Improvised explosive devices
  • Arson or incendiary attack
  • Small-arms attack
  • Assassination or kidnapping

Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activity Include:

  • Suspicious persons wearing bulky clothing that may conceal explosives or weapons
  • Suspicious or illegally parked vehicles near buildings or where crowds gather
  • Unattended packages such as backpacks that could contain explosives
  • Unexpected or unfamiliar delivery or maintenance vehicles

Potential Indicators of Terrorist Surveillance Include:

  • Persons using or carrying camera or other observation equipment in or near the facility over an extended period
  • Persons discovered with facility maps, photos, or diagrams with critical assets highlighted or listing of personnel
  • Persons loitering in the same area over a multiple-day period with no reasonable explanation

Considerations for Law Enforcement Include:

  • Prepare mentally and physically for attacks at religious facilities that could result in mass casualties
  • Be aware of tactical challenges of limited ingress, egress, low visibility, and potential for mass panic
  • Be cognizant of the potential for multiple shooters or a barricaded suspect with hostages

Protective Measures Include:

  • Develop plans for security and emergency response
  • Establish regular communications with local law enforcement
  • Conduct regular emergency response exercises with employees
  • Incorporate security awareness and response procedures into congregation training
  • Control access to the facility and its restricted areas
  • Install and regularly test an emergency communication system
  • Take threats seriously and encourage congregation to report any threat or suspicious situation

Visit to connect with NJOHSP, find resources available, and maintain awareness of threat information. 

Visit to learn about planning resources for your organization.

Visit to learn about training and exercises for your organization.

Report Suspicious Activity
Dial 1-866-4-SAFE-NJ or e-mail to report suspicious activity in New Jersey.

Visit to learn more about suspicious activity reporting.


For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Preparedness Bureau at