by Greg Hopkins
Clash Daily Contributor
Once upon a time, even most criminals saw churches as “sacred spaces”. But as we’ve lost the Christian consensus in America, with increased skepticism and the rise of the rise of Islamic terrorism, no worshipper in any religious house can count on physical safety there.
Carl Chinn is an expert on crime committed at houses of worship. The author of Evil Invades Sanctuary and an instructor with “Sheepdog Seminars for Churches”, Chinn compiles statistics on violence and other crimes committed at places of worship. For instance, from January, 1999, to January, 25, 2017, there have been 1,461 deadly force incidents resulting in threats of death on the property of faith-based organizations. Four hundred thirteen of those resulted in homicides. The various incidents include: 291 robberies, 192 domestic violence spillovers, 148 personal conflicts, 128 caused by mental illness, 98 were gang-related, 69 resulted from religious bias, 36 drug-related, and 171 from random and other causes. Killed and injured totaled 1341. Remember, these are just the crimes where death was threatened. (Copyright, Carl Chinn.) For the full story, see, www.carlchinn.com, where he updates these stats regularly. His website is a good place to start to show those in your church who say, “It can’t happen here!”
Saturday I attended and spoke at a conference for representatives of 11 churches on church safety. I learned a few things and offered info on my class that trains church security teams in the law of self-defense, trespass law, the Bible and self-defense, and much more. It’s time that people of all faiths recognize that dangers now exist that didn’t exist 60 or 70 years ago. Recall the recent bomb threats directed at hundreds of Jewish day cares and synagogues nation-wide. The danger grows with increasing church size.
Congregations running 750-1000 and up are often involved in a lot of community outreach, meaning they will run into more people with various problems. Some of these will have criminal records, pedophiles who think the Kids’ programs are a good hunting ground, and others who aren’t quite sane. Some of those with mental problems see the church as their last hope before being legally confined for their condition. They can turn violent if they think their twisted concept of their “needs” are not being met to their satisfaction. They may seek vengeance.
Moreover, as I stated in last week’s column, Islamic terrorists see churches as prime targets. Of course, the differences between the Shia and Sunni sects also results in violence against each other world-wide. Terrorists always look for targets that can bring them the most notoriety. It’s obvious that the bigger the church, the better target it is for terrorists. They have the same characteristics that make malls good targets: large parking lots for diversionary attacks, large and/or several buildings which can be isolated and held, and many large entrances that invite people IN instead of trying to keep them out.
Some think hiring off-duty police is the solution, in fact, they are hired primarily for traffic control. While a deterrent, they are not the whole answer. First, you can only hire a few. $200-$500 dollars/week gets expensive. Whereas a volunteer team of church members can be as large as you wish, (so substitutions are easier) and they often pay for their own training as a contribution to the ministry. Also, the hired cops leave soon after the service is over.
Carl Chinn was a Security Supervisor at New Life Church on December 9, 2007.when a would-be mass killer arrived about 45 minutes after the last service. Having killed two at a mission center affiliated with New Life about 100 miles North the night before, he had threatened on the Internet: “I’m coming for EVERYONE soon, and I WILL be armed to the @#$%& teeth, and I WILL shoot to kill and I WILL @#$%& KILL EVERYTHING! — Christian America-this is YOUR Columbine!” Armed with an AR-type semi-auto rifle, a 9mm pistol and several thousand rounds of ammo, he first set off two smoke bombs at different entrances, thus dispersing remaining security. The cops who handled traffic at the megachurch had left just five minutes before. He killed three and wounded several more in the parking lot, then strode toward one of the main entrances. Only Chinn and off-duty cop Jean Assam, a new member of the security team, were armed inside. Remember, it is INSIDE armed security that makes a difference! Assam engaged the killer with multiple shots from her 9mm, striking him several times. Dropping his rifle and realizing he was incapacitated, the killer committed suicide with his own pistol. (Most lone mass murderers DO kill themselves once confronted by a citizen or cop with a gun.)
King David knew that many criminals HAVE to be fought with weapons:
But the worthless, every one of them will be thrust away like thorns, because they cannot be taken in hand; but the man who touches them must be armed with iron and the shaft of a spear, and they will be completely burned with fire in their place
(2 Samuel 23:6-7). Also see: 2 Samuel 22:29-43; 46-49 on how God empowers the godly warrior.
Have you considered a church security team? What plans do you have for heart attacks, domestic violence assaults, protestors, or a stranger suddenly leaping from a pew and striding toward your minister as he preaches? Cops will be there in 10 minutes at the minimum. An armed mass killer will be done in two. To learn more, I highly recommend Carl Chinn’s Evil Invades Sanctuary, and Ron Aguiar’s Keeping Your Church Safe.
Greg Hopkins is a recovering lawyer, city prosecutor, police Use-of-Force law instructor, former city judge in two towns and criminal defense lawyer. He’s been teaching the Bible to teens and adults for 40 years. He now trains CCP holders and armed church security teams in self defense law. He also does expert witnessing in firearms and self defense cases. His book is A Time To Kill: The Myth of Christian Pacifism, on the Bible and self defense.