Friday, May 22, 2009

Do Our Churches Need Body Guards?

On March 9, 2009, CNN ran a story titled “Churches Need Security Plans, Experts Say”. This was in response to the story of an attacker who, the day before, had walked into a church in Illinois and began firing. The pastor was killed. There were also reports that the church had security plans in place. Although two men subdued the gunman involved, clearly the plans weren’t sufficient. In the last year or so the Christian Security Network (CSN) has been around more and more churches are getting help in this area and some tragedies have been averted. CSN also keeps track of security events in churches around the country (in January and February 2009 alone, over 140 acts of violence to churches were tracked by the Network). CNN reports that CSN spoke of one incident that an unknown visitor overdressed for the warm weather and acting odd was taken aside and questioned by church officials only to discover he had two machetes tied to his back. His excuse? The devil had told him to cut the pastor’s head off. With the rise of drug use (America has all but given up the battle against drugs according to Foreign Policy magazine and the visible evidence around the country) as well as the increase of mental illness due to depression, economics, loss of job, family breakdowns, etc., this type of incident is bound to rise. Executive Pastors and those in charge of church facilities would be wise to check out CSN’s services to its members.

As recent as May 20, 2009 the FBI and New York police busted four locals who had planned to blow up two synagogues in the Bronx, not to mention shooting another plane out of the sky. CNN reported that the suspects were three U.S.-born citizens and one immigrant. Three of the four had converted to Islam in jail and were angry that Muslims were dying in Afghanistan. To top it all off, they saw the Jews as the cause of all of America’s problems.

So, do our churches need bodyguards, visible or discrete, and, with or without, armed weapons? [According to CNN, a bill to allow concealed weapons in churches didn’t get past the state’s Senate committee in February.] Last I checked schools have armed guards in some parts of the continent. And if we think we need them in our churches, how do we balance our need for a secure place to worship and still be a place of worship, open to all? More people need a place of comfort these days than ever before, but do we make them go through a security machine as if they were about to travel by plane just to get in? If not, how do we help provide the sense of security many others need that taking one’s family to church is not considered a potentially dangerous activity?

I’d like to hear your take on this pastors and worshipers? What do you think? Provide your comments below.

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