I use to be very opposed to any kind of security that involves guns in church. Honestly I still am not really in favor of having armed security in the church building. Unfortunately, the world is changing and violence against people of faith, whether they are Jews, Muslims, or Christians has been on the rise in some very scary ways.
As the pastor of this congregation it is my responsibility to make sure being in church is a safe place to be and not just from those who carry guns. So I am really torn and yet I believe I know what I will encourage our congregational leaders to do.
This all being said what has caused the increase in hate crimes? Why are groups or individuals attacking people of faith in their places of worship? Are we just easy targets? Is it our theology, the color of our skin, how we understand the Bible or is there something more?
When people are afraid, and by the way change in folk’s lives is one of the great fears, they react sometimes in very inhuman ways. In fact, it is the reptilian part of our brain that gives us the flight or fight reaction to threats, or at least perceived threats. People do some very strange things when they are afraid. Examples of this are that a drowning person will sometimes try to drown their rescuer, a person who feels so threaten will turn on those close to them, lashing out at the nearest target of opportunity.
Fear and how we react to fear seems to me to be the one common dominator in all this violence toward people of faith. The people who encourage this fear are usually the extremist in religion, culture, or politics. Also, it seems human nature to blame somebody for things they personally have no control over. We search for a scapegoat, somebody to blame, the other that we can lay responsibility at the feet of for our troubles.
Those who would play on these fears, the people and groups who encourage hatred of others, have contributed greatly to the violence against communities of faith throughout the world. This does not take away the responsibility and guilt from those who do horrible violence to Christians, Muslims, Jews Hindus, Sikhs, and other faith traditions. And yes, we are easy targets as we gather to worship God.
I believe we cannot turn houses of worship into fortresses, this is not who we are. I would do anything humanly possible to protect my children and my grandchildren from violence. I am not alone in this feeling, but what we do to protect those we love and are loved by God, now there-in lies the challenge.
One of my grandchildren told me; “I don’t know how I would feel if I walked into church and saw a person with a gun guarding the church. But I know it wouldn’t feel right!” I agreed with her, but I still want those I love safe and I believe God does too!