It might be the place where you feel the most comfortable. It might be the place where you feel the safest. It might be the absolute last place where you’d expect a shooting to occur.
I’m talking about your place of worship.
Whether it’s a Catholic or Protestant church, or a synagogue, or a mosque… it could be the place where you’ve always believed you could never be harmed.
But devastatingly, violence at places of worship is happening more and more these days.
Massacre in Sutherland Springs
In fact, that is exactly what happened earlier this month. At the normally quiet and peaceful First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, a gunman shot and killed 26 people and injured 20 others. It happened during the morning worship service.
It was the deadliest shooting in an American place of worship in modern history.
Unfortunately, there was no one present that could attempt to protect the church attendees. The event was horrifying.
It’s Not Just Christian Churches
Now, it’s easy for some of us to assume that a vicious massacre such as the one that occurred in Sutherland Springs was an attack on Christianity.
After all, that incident and many others have happened in churches across America. Especially now at a time when many feel Christianity itself is under attack.
But what about the bomb threats and desecrations that have occurred at Jewish community centers?
And what about the dozens of mosques that have been attacked and vandalized in recent years?
Is It Religion Or Is It Personal?
Investigators are finding that these attacks at houses of worship often have very little or nothing to do with religion.
One study tracing church shootings from 1980 to 2005 revealed something interesting. In nearly one-half of the cases, the attacker had some connection with the church.
And 25 percent of the time, “intimate partners” are the targets. This includes wives, husbands, girlfriends or even boyfriends.
Attacks in churches receive a lot of media attention. But most of those attacks probably don’t have much to do with religion.
Lack of Church Security a Problem
My guess is that gunmen and other attackers feel just as “safe” in a church with an “open-door policy” as the unsuspecting worshippers do.
In other words, attackers assume no one will be able to “fight back” if they carry a loaded gun into a place of worship. There’s little, if any, security in many churches. And, the churches’ regular schedules make it easy for attackers to know exactly when to strike.
Unfortunately, these types of incidents are increasing at a scary pace.
A church security consultant in Colorado Spring, Colorado reported about 250 incidents in 2015. And the same number in 2016. He says there have been close to 200 more so far in 2017.
A criminologist in Minneapolis, Minnesota says that about 10 percent of the attackers have a mental illness. Also that about one-half of the victims know their attackers.
Security Training Is Available
The last thing church leaders want is for people to be afraid to come to church. So, some of them are taking steps to make their buildings more secure.
Strategos is the largest church security training ministry in the world. They teach officials at churches, schools, and other institutions how to deal with armed intruders.
Recently there have been more and more of incidents of church violence. Because of that, some churches have to wait for nearly a year to receive Strategos’ training.
The vice president of the company, Brian Young, commented on this epidemic. “We’ve got to get church leaders’ heads out of the sand. How many people have to die before the American church changes?”
What Do You Think?
Regardless of why attackers are choosing churches for their violence, the fact is, that’s what is happening.
I’d love to get your thoughts about this horrific problem.
Would you want one or more armed security guards at your church watching out for an attacker? To be ready to take him down if necessary?
Or would armed security guards spoil your mood for worship?
If you’d like to let us know, feel free to leave a comment. We’d love to hear your thoughts!
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