INDUSTRY FOCUS

Church Should Be Off Limits

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 in action.

If you see something, say something. If you hear something out of order, spring into action.

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2019 issue of Security Today.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.

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