Across the globe, churches, mosques and Jewish centers have had to amp up their security levels for greater protection. Religious congregations have started to focus on security now more than ever after a white shooter attacked a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. Mosque leaders around the United States have started working with law enforcement in response to the backlash they have received for the killings in San Bernadino, California. The Anti-Defamation League has been working ardently to secure Jewish sites around the country. Even in France, officials have boosted their security at the churches over Christmas.
What can you do to increase the security at your congregation? Reverend T.D. Jakes, a pastor at a megachurch in Dallas, offered tips about watching for behavior that raises concern. For example, be cautious of people who wear long coats in hot weather. If necessary, the church greeters can give hugs and pat people down for weapons. In recent years, a lot of religious sites have become the target of violence and vandalism.
Congregations have to protect themselves given the openness a lot of churches have to newcomers. Church insurance is a great additional assurance, but you want protection that goes beyond that. The problem with a lot of churches is that while you are facing forward to worship, someone could come in from behind.
Rod Pires, an operator of a church security ministry out of Atlanta, has said that he continues to receive more and more requests for help from churches. A lot of the questions are often whether certain members in the church should be armed as part of the security plan. Several states have allowed for this including Georgia, but you should always check with your church insurance provider in advance. Should everyone carry weapons in a place of worship? Pires rejects this notion without having first received a full security assessment, and he believes firearms should be handled by those trained to do so.
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