Credit Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times
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Before the church massacre in Sutherland Springs, Tex., there was the church massacre in Charleston, S.C. It was enough to make the Rev. John Darsey think that his young Georgia church needed a security plan — one that involved defenders with firearms.
So his church, Redeemer Church of Madison, hired three uniformed sheriff’s deputies for each Sunday service, one directing traffic, one in the parking lot, and one right by the door.
This is the visible deterrent — the first line of defense.
The second, more subtle layer is an in-house security team of church members with military or law enforcement backgrounds, all carrying concealed weapons. Inside the spare, spacious modern sanctuary — where some 500 people come every Sunday morning — the team members split the room into quadrants, with one always keeping a bird’s-eye view from the back of the room, on the riser with the sound and lighting equipment.
The third layer of protection is one that Mr. Darsey knows is there, though he has trouble quantifying it. He estimated that about 20 to 25 of his flock were concealing a weapon on any given Sunday. “Now that’s just the ones I know about,” he said.
In Plano, Tex., the Prestonwood Baptist Church, a megachurch with more than 43,000 members and a model of modern-day vigilance — with off-duty police, private security, and cameras monitored 24 hours a day — offered to hold a seminar on church security after the shooting last Sunday.
Within 48 hours, more than 250 ministers and lay leaders from more than 100 churches in four states had signed up.
“This has caused every church in the country to think about the security of their people, and how that has to be of utmost importance,” said the Rev. Mike Buster, Prestonwood’s executive pastor.
Credit Callie Richmond for The New York Times
But securing a house of worship poses very different challenges from securing other public places like airports, schools or theaters.
For one thing, most American congregations are relatively small, and lack the staff or the budget for extensive security. Two-thirds of the churches in the United States have fewer than 100 regular attendees, adults and children combined, according to data from the National Congregations Study, and in many cases, only part-time or volunteer ministers.
Just as important, many clergy members say that the very mission of houses of worship leaves them conflicted over imposing security measures. A church, temple or mosque should be a welcoming place, they say, with doors kept wide open to strangers and those who are hurting.
Many say they have ministered to people in all kinds of crises — homelessness, drug addiction, domestic abuse, or trouble with the law — without being sure whether they are intent on harm.
“The safe thing to do is to isolate yourself from these people, but that’s the wrong thing to do for a church,” said the Rev. Bart Barber, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Farmersville, Tex., who wrote an essay for Christianity Today about the security dilemma for small rural churches.
“We’re not going to cordon off the block, and make people show their I.D. and do a fingerprint background check to get into the worship service,” Mr. Barber said. “Because the very people we’re afraid of are also the people we are here to help.”
But increasingly, clergy members have felt it necessary to have extra eyes, and sometimes weapons, watching their open doors.
In the last five years alone, shootings have occurred at churches, mosques, a Sikh temple and a Jewish community center, forcing religious leaders nationwide to confront the issue of safety. Consultants have started businesses focused on church security, and the federal government has offered limited grants for houses of worship to install cameras and hire guards. It was a security camera image from Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston that helped the authorities quickly identify Dylann S. Roof as the gunman.
Church Executive magazine recently suggested that church leaders invite local police officers to stop by and use the restrooms or meeting rooms, in order to acquaint them with the church’s layout and leadership before an emergency arises.
In areas of the country where many people own and carry guns, church security is complicated by the question of whether to allow or even encourage guns in church
Credit Travis Dove for The New York Times
Texas law allows houses of worship to bar firearms, and many do, posting signs saying that carrying guns onto the property is prohibited. The United Methodist Church adopted a resolution suggesting that churches post such signs in 2016, part of a larger statement on ending gun violence. Mormon Church policy says that carrying firearms is “inappropriate except as required by officers of the law.”
All week, since the massacre in the pews in Sutherland Springs, the Rev. Brady Martin said that members of his church, Temple Baptist Church, in Gainesville, Tex., have been coming to his office to discuss how to protect the church while still being welcoming. One asked whether the sign posted out front announcing that the church doesn’t allow the open carrying of firearms — showing a gun with a slash through it — could actually be sending the message that the church is vulnerable.
“That was something I hadn’t actually thought through,” he said, though he added that the church was not reconsidering its open-carry policy. (It does allow concealed firearms.) “We are not thinking that everybody should open carry. That would be a security nightmare.”
He said that his church would send 12 people to the security seminar at Prestonwood. In the meantime, his volunteer security team is considering stationing members in the parking lot before Sunday services, not just inside.
The Rev. Robert Jeffress, pastor of a Dallas megachurch, First Baptist Dallas, said in an interview on Fox News this week that he felt safer knowing that one-quarter to half of his congregation carries concealed weapons to services on Sunday.
“If somebody tries that in our church,” he said of the attack in Sutherland Springs, “they might get one shot off, or two shots off, and that’s the last thing they’ll ever do in this life.”
Mr. Darsey, the pastor at Redeemer in Georgia, acknowledged that some might find it odd that so many deadly weapons were being brought into a building dedicated to worshiping the man the book of Isaiah calls the Prince of Peace. But he cited Romans 13, which allows earthly authorities to serve as “agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”
There was always a chance, he said, that someone who meant to fire a weapon to protect innocents could end up harming the innocents themselves, which would be a “nightmare scenario” for his church.
“I’m not so Southern and fundamentalist in my thinking that I don’t see the other side of that issue,” he said. “But it is what it is.”
Jason Singleton, 36, is among the members who brings a handgun to Redeemer, in his case, strapped to his torso with a belly band. He said he would never pull the gun if there was merely a fight. There had to be an armed attacker, shooting innocents.
“It would be a last resort,” he said. “If I took someone’s life it would be because mine was about to be took or someone else’s, and I think I’d be O.K. with answering for that, in the by and by.”
(The New York Times, November 11, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/10/us/church-shooting-security.html)
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No matter how many people think otherwise, Jehovah’s Witnesses really is God’s visible organization.
The wrath of Jehovah God really is upon the Mormon Church of Satan, no matter how many people think otherwise.
The stock market really is going to crash, worldwide, no matter how many people think otherwise.
No matter how many people think otherwise, Caroline Kennedy will be elected President in the year 2020; Jim Turner of Texas will be elected Vice President; Robert Kennedy Jr. will be nominated and confirmed U.S. Attorney General; Robert Mueller will be nominated and confirmed Director of the FBI.
No power on earth has the power to prevent this prophetic message that I write from becoming reality, not even these four people themselves. I write under inspiration from and with authority from, God, the true God, Jehovah. cc all Mormon barristersTHIS IS ANOTHER IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM ME:
Mayor Warren Wilhelm aka Bill de Blasio is the clean-up man, if the Mormon Church of Satan/CIA succeed in their planned nuclear bomb attack on the Hudson River. His administration is already prepared to hold tribunals and immediately execute some of the “troublemakers” (30,000 bananas; nationwide: 30,000 guillotines, to be continued).
Partial List of Scapegoats, if the Mormon Church of Satan/CIA succeed in their nuclear bomb attack on the Hudson River:
Former President Barack “Hussein” Obama
Former Advisor to the President, Valerie “June” Jarrett
Former Homeland Security Director “Jeh” Johnson
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka
Minnesota Congressman FBI agent Keith “Ellison”
New York Congressman FBI agent Hakim Jeffries
Former leader of the CIA’s Black Panthers: FBI agent “Malik Zulu Shabazz”
Former Public Relations Spokesman for Mormon Church, FBI agent “Ahmad” Corbitt (now assigned to the Dominican Republic)
The purpose of this website is to expose the Mormon Church of Satan and all enemies of Jesus Christ the Way the Truth the Life, the Prince of Peace. This website is also the beginning of a presidential campaign to elect Caroline Kennedy President of the United States. I prayed to Jehovah God to please, by means of His son Christ Jesus, please, arrange national events and world events in such a manner such that Caroline Kennedy is elected President of the United States. I know Jehovah God hears my prayer and will answer my prayer because that particular prayer of mine is one of my deepest desires and Jehovah God has promised me that he will satisfy all of my deepest desires. All of the information posted at this website is interconnected; directly connected to the Mormon Church of Satan’s illegal sting operation surrounding Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, and me. The illegal sting operation that encompasses every human being on earth, and has resulted in the LEGAL CASE, unlike any other, ever. The LEGAL CASE, headed to The Hague, Netherlands. cc all Mormon attorneys
Maintain Your Focus on Jesus!
(Matthew 14:22-34; Hebrews 12:2)
(Concluding talk, Jehovah’s Witnesses Convention 2015, worldwide)