In a letter to community members Wednesday, the department reminded houses of worship to review security plans and procedures ahead of congregant gatherings, acknowledging that many people are worshiping remotely at this time.
“[T]here has been an increase in online hate speech intended to encourage violence or use the ongoing situation as an excuse to spread hatred,” states the letter from the department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, obtained by CNN.
Additionally, stressors caused by the pandemic may contribute to an individual’s decision to commit an attack or influence their target of choice, according to DHS.
The letter is aimed at providing the faith community with guidance for planning “restoration of normal operations, whenever that may be.”
Social distancing creates opportunity to become isolated, more glued to the TV and computer and less socially engaged, the official said, adding: “No doubt we are all experiencing stress.”
Officials are concerned that someone who is already vulnerable could easily be recruited by violent ideologies or that the situation becomes precursor to them carrying out attack.
In addition, the department is aware of individuals using Covid-19 to propagate conspiracy theories, the official said.