Church Should Be Off Limits
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Feb 01, 2019
While attending religious
services during the
holiday season, a local
congregant asked me if
I had heard about the
ISIS threat to local houses of worship in East
Texas. I was not aware, but I started digging.
A routine report sent out by the FBI to
update local police departments about any
threats pertaining to their area was circulated,
or at least broadcast, to the public. The
online post has since been taken down but it
did cause raised eyebrows. Some church goers
felt fear and it left many people looking
to their churches and wondering how safe
they are there.
“The issue with someone coming in and
doing something violent is something that
we’ve done some thinking about from time
to time,” said Reverend Doctor Lander Bethel,
pastor of Grand Avenue Presbyterian and
First Presbyterian of Denison, Texas.
The fact is religious institutions are
known for their open and hospitable environment.
Unfortunately, this can come in
conflict with safety and security. Anyone
attending their church of choice should feel
safe and secure at all times.
“We recognize that there may be people
who are angry, upset, or want to act out in
some violent ways,” Bethel said. “For the
most part, they are not going to show up.
They are not going to act out. It’s a tiny, tiny
part of the population.”
No matter what happens, Bethel says the
doors to his sanctuary will be open during
the service but says they stay on alert in case
of an emergency.
There are those, or in this case, that one
Lone Wolf, who is hard to predict when or
where an act of senseless violence might take
place. While the report was meant for police
only, it did make its way to the public. It serves
as a reminder that there are people out there
who wish to harm the United States of America,
and that we each should remain vigilant.
Acting on or living by faith is a noble
cause, in my mind. I try to live my life in such
a manner, but when I look at those that I love
and share the church pew with each Sunday,
being observant, and knowing what to do if
“all hell breaks loose,” is a testament of faith
If you see something, say something.
If you hear something out of order, spring
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2019 issue of Security Today.
Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.