When you go to church on Sunday morning or evening, or Wednesday night, do you feel safe from violence because you are at church? When you send your kids to a youth meeting at your church, do have a false sense of security believing they are safe because they are at church?
In today’s decaying secular society, church property or other faith-based properties are not nearly as safe as you believe. According to a recent report, there is a violent death that takes place at a church or other faith-based property every 4.8 days. Since 1999, there have been over 600 violent deaths on church property.
If that doesn’t shake your false sense of security, then consider that there are over 20 sexual oriented crimes taking place on church properties every day. How safe does that make you feel about yourself and your kids?
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One example I recall right off is the December 2007 Sunday morning shooting at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. Matthew Murray began his shooting spree in the in parking lot and then entered the sanctuary where he began shooting again. Murray killed two and wounded three people.
Some churches are turning to conceal carry permits for church leadership and members. Others are turning to protection programs.
Jimmy Meeks, a retired police officer and current pastor, is co-founder of a program called ‘Sheepdog Seminar’ in which he and others teach churches how to be prepared for violence. Why Sheepdog? According to their website:
“IT HAS BEEN SAID THAT THERE ARE 3 KINDS OF PEOPLE IN THE WORLD…
…wolves, sheep, and sheepdogs. Most people are sheep – and there’s nothing wrong with that. They love peace and quiet, and they are not likely to rise to the occasion should violence strike.
Another kind of person is a wolf. Wolves can be vicious. They will attack a person just because they want their wallet, or choose to rape their daughter. They are evil.
Fortunately, there is a third kind of person in the world: Sheepdogs. Sheepdogs love peace, too. However, they are aware that there is evil in the world. They know the wolves prowl about. They do not crave violence, and wish the world was free of its wars and riots. But they know that heaven with its glory has not yet arrived. And until it does, the sheepdog will take his/her stand against violent people (wolves). “
Meeks told the local media:
“Right now somebody’s losing their life to a violent death every 4.8 days in the United States at a church or faith based property. Those deaths occur in various ways. They’re shot to death, stabbed, beaten to death, suffocated. We had a preacher in the Ft. Worth area beaten to death with a guitar. We don’t believe there’s any reason for any church to be in a state of panic. We believe there’s every reason for every church to be in a state of preparation.”
“The main thing every church has to do is wake up. Chances are twice as much of having a violent act in the parking lot as in the sanctuary. Drug deals go down in parking lots, people are shot in parking lots. Put somebody in that parking lot, just pay attention. Have somebody in the foyer, have somebody in the children’s area.”
Sheepdog Seminars are mainly geared for the men at a church. ‘The Well Armed Woman’ is a training program for women. One of the women trainers said:
“Our role hasn’t been the sheepdog. That’s been the man’s job. And you think of the women with the knight in shining armor and our dependency on others. Obviously our world has changed and women are more independent, travelling, so many single women that they have to become the sheepdog.”
And yes, well-armed woman refers to the use of firearms. According to their website:
“Here you’ll find everything you need to make well informed decisions about the role of firearms in your life whether you are a new or experienced gun owner. The Well Armed Woman Instructor program provides instructor certification courses to meet the unique needs of female students. We have certified more than 225 female instructors all over the country.”
Remember the shooting at New Life Church mentioned above? What you may not realize is that there may have been many more killed or wounded had it not been for one parishioner by the name of Jeanne Assam, a former Minneapolis policewoman who was armed and ready. She used her conceal carry weapon to wound and stop Murray from shooting anyone else.
This is the type of vigilance and protection that these training groups are sharing with churches everywhere. If you’re starting to feel vulnerable at your church or sending your kids to a church function, then perhaps you need to mention these programs to your pastor and church leadership. Share with them that churches are no longer a place of safety or free from violence or sexual assaults.