A faith group in our town recently held a worship event with about 350 plus people in attendance. They expected people from several states and foreign countries including Nigeria, South Africa, Botswana, United Kingdom and Canada. The International group came together in celebration of their Christian faith to worship and recognize academic achievement.
Throughout most of the Friday evening worship event and Saturday morning recognition service, two armed police officers were located in the main event auditorium. They were wearing uniforms and badges and wearing their pistols. There were also three people carrying concealed pistols. They have permits to carry concealed guns.
There has never been any trouble at the yearly event nor was any expected this year.
A spirit of worship and recognition of those attending was carried out with a harmonious spirit of unity and love. At any moment a crazed gunman could have entered the place and shot somebody. However, he would unlikely have escaped the auditorium without being wounded or taken out. Sounds kind of weird doesn't it? In light of last week's Charleston, South Carolina, massacre of nine people it no longer sounds crazy.
Churches must now have a strategy plan to protect each other and those who visit. A public prayer meeting or Sunday morning worship event is an easy target to a crazed gunman. Two or three people with automatic weapons could kill dozens of people within a minute or two. One 21-year-old lunatic in Charleston, S.C., killed nine beautiful people as he stood and reloaded his weapon in front of shocked worshipers. We would all be shocked.
Don't be shocked. This is the world in which we live.
Sadly, your church will have to employ or ask for volunteer security guards. They need to be properly trained on how to watch for crazy people. It's not that easy. Who would have suspected a 21-year-old sitting under the guise of interest and spiritual concern? You will need to have two or three people in your congregation observing the behavior of other people and willing to tackle someone if the need arises. A trained security guard wearing a gun and stationed in a visible place in your church is essential. One or two licensed people in your church with concealed weapons, willing and able to use them will not hurt either.
I can't believe I am writing this article. I have led worship and spoke publicly in churches for over 40 years. Never have I ever feared that our lives might be at risk.
Evil has been around since the beginning of the world. Ask people of faith in Iraq, Egypt, or Afghanistan. Thousands have been killed and their churches burned to the ground. The goal of ISIS is to eliminate any person who is not Muslim or who does not celebrate Allah. Even the disciples of Jesus hid behind closed doors for fear of the extreme religious fanatics in their day.
While this all sounds grim and dim. People of faith must move on and go forward. We all have to be observant and don't ever think the following for a moment, "Something like that could never happen in our town."
Glenn Mollette is a syndicated columnist and author. He is the author of 11 books and read in all 50 states. This column does not necessarily reflect the view of any organization, institution or this paper or media source.